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Ceremony greets cruise ship's Kaohsiung return

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A welcoming ceremony was held for a cruise ship yesterday marking the vessel's maiden voyage home since she was rebased to a home port in Kaohsiung, marking the beginnings of a nautical tourism boom for southern Taiwan.

The Star Cruises (麗星郵輪) operated SuperStar Virgo (處女星號) yesterday arrived in the Banana Pier (香蕉碼頭) after completing her first run of a direct route between Kaohsiung and Hong Kong.

Taking part in the festivities, the Kaohsiung City Deputy Mayor flew to Hong Kong the previous day to return to Kaohsiung on board the cruise ship, which was welcomed with much fanfare.

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) stated that the city government is working closely with the Taiwan International Port Co. (港務公司) in developing the regional cruise ship-related industries, and expect about 50 cruise ships to base their operations at ports throughout Kaohsiung, attracting about 100,000 tourists and revenues of NT$700 million annually.

With convenient access to an international airport and major sea lanes connecting South East and North East Asia that are also utilized by European and North American trade routes, Kaohsiung represents the ideal home port for cruise ships to base their operations, Chen said, who added that since development began in 2009, Kaohsiung cruise ship-related industries have grown from 5 vessels and 4,000 annual tourists to 2013's 20 vessels and 50,000 tourists, with the latest addition yesterday propelling further growth to the sector.

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This photo taken yesterday shows the SuperStar Virgo docked at Kaohsiung's Banana Pier. The cruise ship yesterday completed the first run of a direct route between Hong Kong and Kaohsiung. She is one of the 50 cruise ships expected to moor at ports throughout Kaohsiung and attract up to NT$700 million in revenues and about 100,000 tourists.

(CNA)

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