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Quality river time coming for yachts

THE city plans to set aside certain times for yachts to ply the Huangpu River, a move to boost the luxury private boat business as Shanghai aspires to become a center of the industry. Development of yacht harbors is also part of the plan, city maritime authorities said yesterday. Maritime officials worry that the busy water traffic on the river may threaten the yachts' operations. "Crashes are very likely to happen when the ships are squashing the limited waterways," said Chen Xiao-guang, deputy director of the Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration. More than 1,000 vessels - from tour boats to freighters to ferries - use the Huangpu River daily in the section near the Lujiazui area of Pudong, the most popular tour route. To reduce the danger of collisions, some large cargo vessels are expected to be turned away or transferred to other water channels during the yacht time, said Chen. The city has only about 30 yachts, much fewer than cities like Shenzhen which has more than 1,000. Shi Derong, chief of the city's cruise and yacht industry association, said "most of the yachts just harbor at the docks and seldom ride on the river at full speed." "The business has not been widely accepted," said Shi, adding that locals can rent yachts. The city government plans to build a large yacht marina in Pudong along the river with 120 berths in the first phase. The industry expects a large market in Shanghai, as well as in the country, as yachts and related equipment worth more than 1 billion yuan (US$155 million) were traded in a recent Shanghai Yacht Exhibition in April. Shanghai will hold its first Yacht Day next February on the river, with plans to hold such days twice a month.

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