Baoshan's Madam Wang Hong as the winner of the prestigious Rama Rebbapragada Award

A record number of delegates, speakers and exhibitors from more than 30 countries are currently in China for Seatrade Cruise Asia Pacific 2017, taking place in Shanghai's Baoshan District.

Over 1,000 participants are attending the three day event, including an audience of more than 700 that witnessed the opening ceremony at the Delta Marriott hotel.

Many attendees have already enjoyed two familiarization trips - one to the Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding Yard and Haurun Dadong Dockyard and another to Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal – as well as witnessed a virtual coin-laying ceremony and reveal of the name of Costa Asia’s first 135.500gt newbuild for China.

The coin ceremony was held for Costa Venezia at Fincantieri's Monfalcone yard. This first Costa Cruises newbuild for the China market is scheduled to enter service in 2019.

A newly minted commemorative coin was placed in the keel for good luck. The event connected Italy and China to mark this milestone, which was attended by government officials, trade partners and senior executives from Costa Cruises and timed to the start of Seatrade Cruise Asia Pacific.

'Costa Cruises is thrilled to have a new ship that is built to offer the best experience to Chinese consumers,' said Michael Thamm, CEO of Costa Group and Carnival Asia. He added Costa Venezia demonstrates the company's strong commitment and confidence in the world’s fastest growing cruise market.

Another highlight for participants was the reveal of the winner of the Rama Rebbapragada Award 2017 – given to Baoshan's Madam Wang Hong, party secretary general of Shanghai Baoshan People’s Government and director of Shanghai International Cruise Business Institute professor, during the event’s welcome reception.

Zinan Liu, president, China and North Asia Pacific, global svp Royal Caribbean International, presented the Rama Rebbapragada Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Cruise Industry in Asia to Madam Wang Hong in recognition of her dedication to the development of China's cruise industry.

Upon presenting the award, Liu said: ‘Our good colleague Rama, who passed away a few years back, was involved with cruising since its absolute beginning in Asia. He saw the potential of Asia as a destination and source market when the US had no idea what Asia was and Asia had no idea of the cruise business.’

Liu added: ‘Madam Wang has made a huge contribution to cruise industry growth in Shanghai by having the foresight to build cruise terminal and berthing facilities at Wusongkou to accommodate the large ships coming to China and has been instrumental in pushing the emerging Chinese market into the “big boat era” and Shanghai to be the largest homeport in Asia.

‘It is a great honour to receive this award,' Wang said, 'given in the name of Rama Rebbapragada, a true cruise industry visionary.’

The award recognises an individual who has made exceptional contribution to the development of cruise tourism in Asia, and is named in memory of the late Rama Rebbapragada, a long-time Royal Caribbean executive with a legion of friends and associates throughout the business, and who was instrumental in creating awareness about the potential of the Asia-Pacific cruise market. He also served as founding chairman of the Asia Cruise Association (now CLIA North Asia/CLIA Australasia).

The award recognizes someone who has played a significant role in developing the cruise industry in the region.

Previous winners include Bob Guy, managing director – Singapore & Malaysia for Destination Asia(2016); Kelvin Tan, commercial director Asia Pacific Celebrity Cruises (2014) and Ong Huey Hong, director, cruise for Singapore Tourism Board (2013).

Speaking about the event, Andrew Williams, general manager Seatrade, thanked the event hosts and co-organisers Shanghai Baoshan District People’s Government, Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal and Shanghai International Cruise Business Institute for their 'support, professionalism, passion and drive in not only making the event possible, but in driving the cruise industry development in China, as all of our sponsors and supporters of this event.’

Photo: Baoshan's Madam Wang Hong receives the Rama Rebbapragada Award at Seatrade Cruise Asia Pacific 2017