Yachts set to cruise in Shanghai
Working on luxury cruises is becoming trendy among young people in Shanghai, which is widely expected to develop into a cruise and yacht hub in Asia.
Handsome incomes earned by serving well-to-do customers in such a promising service sector may be the major lure to young job seekers in the city.
"We've recruited two classes, 80 students in total, and will probably open two more classes next year to meet the increasing demand," said Wen Ren, president of Shanghai Science and Technology Management School, which opened a course on the cruise industry this year, the first of its kind in the city.
The courses are aimed at training professional staff for the Shanghai Port International Cruise Terminal, which will formally go into operation in 2007, according to Wen.
"Although serving on a Huangpu River sightseeing yacht now earns a worker less than 2,000 yuan (US$240) per month, it is expected to double that on luxury liners," said Wen.
Shanghai started constructing its yacht terminal in January, which is located at the 158-year-old Gaoyang pier along the Huangpu River. It has invested some 2 billion yuan (US$240 million) in the effort.
"That demonstrates the government's resolve to develop the city's cruise industry," said an official from the Shanghai Municipal Port Administration Bureau, who preferred to be anonymous.
Statistics indicate that about 15 per cent of Shanghai's more than 16 million permanent residents have travelled for leisure out of the city in the past three years.
The percentage of outbound travellers from the region is 17 times higher than the national average.
Last year, more than 50 international cruise liners docked at Shanghai, despite the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak, bringing tens of thousands of overseas tourists into the city.
"International cruises are expected to bring around 500,000 overseas tourists to Shanghai annually for the next three years," said the official.