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Duty-free boost arriving soon for cruise ship passengers

Shanghai Daily, May 29, 2014 Adjust font size:

Shanghai tourist authorities are planning tax refunds for overseas tourists on purchases in designated shops, and are to open duty-free shops at the arrival areas of the city's two cruise terminals, a conference on China's cruise tourism development pilot zone heard yesterday.

The zone, the first of its kind in China, was approved to be set up in Shanghai by the China National Tourism Administration in September 2012.

Cruise liners bring lots of tourists to the city every year, said customs official Zhang Manxian, and it was hoped they would be encouraged to shop here.

In Hainan Province, overseas tourists can claim tax refunds worth 11 percent of their purchases at some shops when leaving China, with the minimum purchase set at 800 yuan (US$121). Beijing has similar plans, but details have not been announced.

Shops selling local specialty and folk products are being considered because foreign tourists like them, Zhang said.

There are also plans to open duty-free shops at the arrival areas of the Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal in Baoshan District and Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal on the North Bund in Hongkou District.

Currently, there is no duty-free shop at the arrival area of either terminal, meaning tourists can only shop at duty-free stores when they are about to leave.

With the new stores, they will be able to shop right after they disembark.

Approval from the central government is required, Zhang said.

Also discussed was expanding the types of goods sold at the cruise terminal shops. At present, only wine and cigarettes are on offer.

Zhang said that would be broadened to include luxury goods, leather products, perfume and cosmetics soon, and no later than this year.

Authorities are also working on cruises out to sea but with no destination. Such cruises could encompass various entertainments, including casinos, or even simple concepts such as appreciating the sunrise and sunset at sea, according to Sun Jianping, head of the Shanghai Transport and Port Administration.

Sun said such cruises could prove popular with local tourists who might like to spend just a weekend at sea.

The plan has been approved in principle by officials at the Ministry of Transport, and working with other agencies, frontier inspection for example, would be a priority this year.

Hainan and Tianjin are also vying to offer such cruises.

The conference also heard that regular cruises to Taiwan would be promoted this year, and cruise operators would be encouraged to offer mixed routes including Taiwan, Hong Kong and other ports overseas.

A 72-hour visa-free stay for cruise ship passengers docking in Shanghai is also expected this year. The policy only applies at local airports at present.

Other measures discussed at the conference included simplifying the exit and entry procedures of foreign cruise tourists, improving emergency plans in foggy weather, accelerating the construction of support facilities and promoting the approval of foreign-funded travel agencies on organizing overseas cruise tours for Chinese tourists,.

The two cruise terminals reported 292,000 tourists up to last month this year, soaring 82 percent from the same period last year, and 86 cruise liners docked in Shanghai, a rise of 72 percent.

It is expected that 285 cruise liners, including 243 making the city its home port, will dock in the city this year, a rise of 44 percent. A total of 1.08 million visitors are expected, a rise of 43.6 percent.

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