This week in the news, cruise vacations are catching on in China, young Chinese professionals are buying up Beijing’s new luxury properties, China’s middle-class is driving iPhone 6 sales, San Francisco is the most popular city for Chinese real estate investors, and watchmaker Vacheron Constantin is bringing Swiss craftsmanship to Beijing.
Two of the world’s biggest cruise lines, Royal Caribbean and Carnival, have big plans for China as cruise vacations catch on among younger travelers. Both cruise companies will add additional ships to their fleets in China. Royal Caribbean, which entered China in 2010, will increase its fleet in the region to five ships with the 160,000 ton Ovation of the Seas. Through its subsidiary Costa Cruise Lines, Carnival will increase its capacity in China by 140 percent. The company expects its cruise ship based in Tianjin to embark on 40 cruises this year, up from 8 trips last year. Travelers made 1.2 million trips to and from Shanghai’s two home ports in 2014, an increase of 60 percent over 2013.
Young Chinese professionals in their 30s have displaced middle-aged Chinese buyers, who gained their wealth from manufacturing, to become the top buyers of Beijing’s new luxury property developments. The easing of property policy controls, along with easier access to credit and Beijing’s hot real estate market, has led to a property-development frenzy within Beijing’s third ring road. However, Beijing’s municipal government has released less land for development this year, which means high-end property prices in the city are skyrocketing. During the first four months of this year, Beijing auctioned off only seven sites for development, compared to 10 over the same period last year.
Sales of the iPhone 6 in China have made China Apple’s number two market in the world. Apple announced an increase in profit of 33 percent in the quarter with net income totaling $13.57 billion, compared to $10.22 billion over the same period last year. The company sold 61.2 million iPhones during the quarter ending March 28, an increase of 40 percent compared to the first quarter of 2014. The company attributed much of that gain to China, including Hong Kong and Taiwan, where sales increased 72 percent in the quarter. Consumer demand for bigger screens and payment plans offered by Chinese banks and telecommunications companies have helped iPhone sales in the country.
San Francisco is now the most popular city for Chinese looking to invest their money in real estate overseas. According to data from luxury real estate listing website PropGoLuxury.com, which compiled millions of online searches from Chinese buyers, San Francisco climbed from a ranking of seventh in the fourth quarter of 2014 to first in the first quarter of 2015. Ranking below San Francisco, London, Tuscany, New York, and Paris rounded out the top-5 favorite cities worldwide for Chinese investors. Overall, the most searched city was Hong Kong. San Francisco has captured first place because, to many Chinese investors, it is seen as a relative bargain when compared to the other cities below it on the list.
Teaming up with Geneva’s Museum of Art and History, watchmaker Vacheron Constantin is bringing Swiss craftsmanship to Beijing’s Capital Museum. The “Geneva at The Heart of Time” exhibition runs through August 12 and features 350 timepieces, as well as watchmaking equipment and machinery. The watchmaker has flown in its craftsmen for the event, during which they will demonstrate watchmaking, enamelling, gem-setting, and engraving, including guilloche work. The focal point of the exhibit is a re-creation of an 18th century Geneva workshop based on a painting Christophe Francois von Ziegler, which is housed in the Geneva Museum of Art and History.
image credit: ricardo villar