Shanghai's port for cruise liners in north Baoshan District is decked up for carnival.
This year’s Shanghai Cruise Liner Tourism Festival, which runs until October 6, includes a float parade, an osmanthus blossoming festival, an international darts competition and sightseeing tours along the waterfront at the mouth of Yangtze River.
Forums on travel and wedding industries will be held that is expected to offer insights into the future development of the former iron-steel base, which is striving to become a maritime Silk Road gateway with its cruise industry.
On Wednesday, a cruise liner left the port with 14 soon-to-be-married couples on a five-day trip that will take in Fukuoka City in Japan.
The mid-sea group wedding ceremony will take place on the board and is being planned with an eye on the coming generation.
Before their departure, the 20 couples on board the 114,000-ton Costa Serena gave away wedding candies to tourists at the port as part of the activities.
The wedding ceremony will be held aboard with the couples taking their vows under the open sky and sea in front of them.
“The activities are all part of the city’s annual tourism festival and aims to showcase the Wusongkou Cruise Liner Port, which has become Asia’s largest and the world’s fourth largest cruise liner port after Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Cape Canaveral in the United States,” said Zhu Zhongwei, director of the district’s waterfront commission.
Cao Zhonghua, the president of Shanghai Wedding Trade Association, expects the new form of group wedding on cruise liners to become popular among the post-1990s generation.
The planned forum will invite industrial leaders and experts to discuss about its promotion.
“The post-1990s have outnumbered their 1980s counterparts for the first time this year to become the biggest marriageable force in the city,” said Cao.
The younger generation has different demands on weddings compared to their predecessors. They want less traditional events but more fun, he added.
To mark the climax of the cruise liner tourism festival, dozens of floats will parade along a 4-kilometer-long route in Baoshan on Saturday. The floats will start from Lingdian Plaza and pass through several major roads in Baoshan, including Baoyang, Mudanjiang, Mohe, Tongji and Yixian elevated roads.
These roads will be closed to allow visitors to watch the parade between 8pm and 8:45pm.
Not far from the port is the city’s biggest osmanthus forest in Gucun Park.
Over 10,000 osmanthus trees spread over 2.6 million square meters are in full bloom in the park. The trees of various species have turned the park into a sea of red, orange, yellow and green flowers, giving out a sweet fragrance, said Ye Qiang, the district’s tourism bureau director.
A darts, beer and music festival will be held over the weekend at Elite Valley in Songnan Town at 258 Changjiang Road. The town, which used to be an industrial center in the 1950s, has opened many of its industrial heritages to visitors for the first time.
Among them are the former factories of the city’s earliest glassware plant, motorcycle factory, iron alloy plant as well as a warehouse for China’s early exports.
These sites have been renovated into museums and creative parks. A well-preserved section of the Songhu Railway, China’s first railway that opened in 1876, are also open for visitors, the township government said.
Over 300 people, including visitors from abroad, were the first to take part in an orienteering contest on September 16 along a route that included all the historical sites.It is also part of the 2017 Shanghai Walking Contest, a city-wide campaign to encourage citizens to walk and take part in various sporting activities.
“We’d like to invite more visitors to learn about the town’s history and cultural features, while encouraging locals to develop a healthier lifestyle,” said Jin Yan, an official with the township government.
“Baoshan aims to develop its tourism industry, led by its cruise liner port,” Ye said. The port, which opened in 2012, received 2.8 million inbound and outbound tourists from 471 cruise trips in 2016 — up 63 percent from 2015.
As of August this year, the port has handled 1.87 million tourists in 308 cruise trips, said Zhu.
“Baoshan has attracted a total of 8.1 million tourists from both home and abroad between January and July this year, a jump of 15 percent, bringing a total avenue of 4.7 billion yuan (US$714.5 million),” Ye said.
To boost the future development, expansion work on the port will be completed by the end of the year that will allow four cruise liners to berth simultaneously. Two berth lots, two terminal buildings and a bridge will be built to extend the total length of the port to 1,600 meters. The port will be able to handle 1,000 cruise liners a year by then.
Furthermore, a comprehensive transport hub is being planned to make it more convenient for outbound travelers to reach the port and inbound travelers to keep traveling elsewhere in Shanghai, he added. Shuttle bus services are expected to open this year to take travelers to the port from the city’s airports and railway stations.
The Baoshan government is also developing an ecological waterfront area near the Yangtze River mouth. Scheduled for completion in 2018, the revamped riverside site, which stretches 1.8 kilometers along the Yangtze, will feature 4,200 apartments, three parks, assorted malls, restaurants, hotels and kindergartens. The Changtan area will also have a 180-meter-tall sightseeing tower, offering views across the Yangtze River to Chongming and Changxing islands as well as the East China Sea.
Moreover, the Baoshan District signed a letter of intent in May with China State Shipbuilding Corp, the nation’s largest shipbuilder, and Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri, to develop Shanghai CSSC International Cruise Industrial Park in Baoshan.
Fincantieri and CSSC will promote the industrial park in their supply chain network and attract companies to participate in the shipbuilding project. With their joint efforts, China’s first domestically manufactured vessels are expected to be delivered in 2023 and set off from the Baoshan port.