Costa To Enter Asian Market

Costa Cruises, an Italian-based subsidiary of Carnival Corp., will enter the Asian market in July with the Costa Allegra operating round-trip voyages from Shanghai. The 1,000-passenger, 28,500-ton vessel will be marketed exclusively to Chinese clientele; initially operating a series of 24 five-day cruises from Shanghai to Nagasaki, Japan, and Cheju, Korea, beginning July 3. This is Carnival Corp.'s first entree into the Asian market. Micky Arison, Carnival Corp.'s chairman and CEO noted that China is one of the world's fastest growing travel markets, with more than 31 million Chinese traveling abroad last year. That number is expected to grow to 50 million by 2010. To oversee its entry into Asia, Costa has created a new division, Costa Asia, with an office in Hong Kong and an office in Shanghai scheduled to open in April. This marks the first time that a large international cruise company has been granted a license by the People's Republic of China to embark its citizens from Chinese ports. In May, Costa plans to open a call center in Mainland China. Prior to the launch of service from Shanghai, Costa Allegra will undergo a multi-million-dollar renovation to create an onboard product specifically tailored to the preferences of Chinese vacationers but with a European flair. It will then offer a variety of dining options, a wellness center and a shopping area. While Costa Allegra's deck and engine officers, along with key departmental management, will be Italian, more than 230 Chinese professionals who will be hired from Chinese hotels and resorts will assist them.

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