A replica of the Titanic which offers visitors the chance to experience a simulation of the disaster has been branded as being in “bad taste”.
Construction is currently under way on a full-scale replica of the ill-fated ship – dubbed NewTitanic– which is expected to be the centrepiece of the new Romandisea theme park in China.
Visitors will be able to board the ship, which will spend her days in a reservoir in Sichuan province, and take in the remodelled ballroom, theatre, swimming pool and first-class cabins.
Should they wish, they can also experience a simulation of the iceberg collision which sank the vessel.
The original liner, built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast, sank on its maiden voyage on April 15, 1912, killing more than 1,500 people on board.
Aiden McMichael, chairman of the Belfast Titanic Society, said he was concerned the new theme park attraction would be “disrespectful” to the memory of those people who lost their lives in the disaster.
He told the News Letter: “Attractions like this need to be done respectfully and appropriately, and the idea of turning the story of the Titanic into an entertainment experience is in bad taste. It is going a step too far.
“However, one interesting dynamic in all this is that China is a huge tourism market, and many people in that country only really know the story of Titanic from the 1997 Hollywood film starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio.
“If this new attraction piques people’s interest in the Titanic, perhaps they will visit Belfast to learn more, and that is something we would obviously welcome and encourage.”
The Titanic Belfast visitor attraction is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, drawing in more than three million visitors since opening its doors five years ago.
Shaojun Su, the director of the Chinese tourist resort, has defended its replica of the Titanic.
As reported by the BBC, Mr Shaojun, chief executive of Yongle Seven Star Cultural Tourism Development Company, said the full-size replica would “respect history and the spirit” of those who died in the disaster.
He was speaking during a visit to a Titanic convention in Southampton, where many passengers embarked.
Speaking through an interpreter, he said the project would respect the “universal love” of those on board.
Construction of NewTitanic began in May 2014 in Sichuan province, with completion due early in 2019.