One of the biggest tragedies in tourism history occurred this week when a river boat with nearly 500 people on board sank on the Yangtze in China. Most of the passengers and crew are feared dead after the Eastern Star was hit by a cyclone during a sightseeing cruise.
Neil Taylor, who took the first group of British tourists to China in 1976, believes the tragedy was the first since the inception of organized tourism there. “Cruises have been operating on the Yangtze without incident for nearly 40 years,” he said.”The most risk-averse strategy is to book excursions only through a tour operator.” British travel firms offering river cruises in the People’s Republic, or anywhere else, must be satisfied with the safety regime of every transport provider they use.
A more significant danger faces independent travelers who book their own domestic ferries. The International Maritime Organization currently rates “the unacceptable loss of lives” on Asian passenger vessels as its most significant challenge.