On May 7th, 2019, China’s Ministry of Transport approved a pilot program to allow China-funded ”Flag Of Convenience” (FOC) cruises to develop cruise routes at two Hainan ports — Sanya and Haikou.

The new measure will provide easier access for China-funded FOC cruises. (The ratio of capital contribution by the Chinese party in the corporate entity of any of the FOC international cruise transport business must be no less than 51 percent.) The new measure will also apply to bareboat chartered cruise ships for which cruise companies are developing cruise routes in Hainan. The age of vessels in the program must not exceed 30 years.

According to the program plan, cruise companies will be encouraged to design a variety of cruise routes with the aim of meeting the diverse needs of tourists and residents, and to help accelerate the development of Sanya as a home port for cruise ships.

The move was welcomed by experts in the tourism industry as a step to help accelerate the development of Hainan as a province with a strong ocean economy and growing status as an international tourism center. The program is considered a way for the central government to boost the development of the China (Hainan) Free Trade Pilot Zone and the Hainan Free Trade Port with Chinese Characteristics.

Key words:

1. China-funded ”Flag Of Convenience” (FOC) ship: Refers to ships that are Chinese-funded and operated; the ships can be registered in foreign countries.

2. Bareboat charter: An arrangement for the chartering or hiring of a ship or boat within an agreed timeframe, whereby no crew or provisions are included as part of the agreement; instead, the people who rent the vessel from the owner are responsible for taking care of such things.