This Titanic will be a tourist attraction

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The effect picture of the replica of Titanic parking at a reservoir in the Qijiang River in Daying county, Sichuan province.

A Chinese company is rebuilding a full-scale replica of the RMS Titanic, the legendary luxury liner that sank in 1912 after hitting an iceberg during its maiden voyage.

The replica, which will cost an estimated 1 billion yuan (S$201 million), will be permanently docked in a reservoir in the Qijiang River in Daying county, Sichuan province, as part of a tourism resort.

Su Shaojun, chairman of Seven Star Energy Investment, which is behind the project, said the replica Titanic will be exactly the same size as the original - 269 meters long and 28 meters wide.

The ship will include facilities such as a high-tech simulation cockpit where visitors can experience what it felt like when the original Titanic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank, he said.

"I watched the (1997) movie Titanic many times, and I have long been touched by the humanity revealed in the catastrophe," Su said, adding he would like to teach people about responsibility by letting women and children go first during the disaster re-creations.

The original Titanic was heading from Southampton, England, to New York City when it struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912, about 650 km southeast of Newfoundland, Canada, and sank within hours. More than two-thirds of the 2,224 people on board died, mainly due to a shortage of lifeboats. The last survivor of the disaster died five years ago.

Su said he chose to build the ship in Daying because of its location and beautiful natural environment.

The county is less than a two-hour drive from Chengdu and Chongqing, two of the largest cities in southwestern China.

The replica was designed by a United States company, GC High-Tech Inc, and is being made at Wuchang Shipbuilding Industry. The replica is expected to be done in two years.

Gao Jianling, executive president of GC High-Tech Asia, said they collected most of the blueprints for the original Titanic.

"What we are trying to rebuild is the one that sank in the ocean in 1912, not the one in the movie," he said.

Gao said Bernard Hill, the British actor who played Edward J. Smith, the doomed ship's captain, in James Cameron's 1997 film is happy to be honorary captain of the new ship, which is unsinkable and will "never make him die".

Wei Pengju, dean of the Creative Culture Research Institute at the Central University of Finance and Economics, said, "Unlike traditional sightseeing attractions, the project makes use of the massive influence of the movie Titanic and created a new way of experiencing tourism with high-tech measures."

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