Chinese theme park Titanic replica upsets families
A project to create a full-size replica of the Titanic at a theme park in China has upset relatives of victims and survivors of the 1912 disaster.
The project at the £1.2bn Romandisea resort has been condemned as in "bad taste" by members of the British Titanic Society.
The resort's American designer said plans for a simulated iceberg crash experience had now been abandoned.
The Chinese firm said the attraction would be "respectful".
Shaojun Su, chief executive of Yongle Seven Star Cultural Tourism Development Company, said the Titanic had "many Chinese fans" thanks to the 1997 film starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Speaking through an interpreter at the British Titanic Society convention, he said the full-size replica would "respect history and the universal love" of those who died.
The convention - a gathering of Titanic enthusiasts and relatives of those on board the ill-fated liner - was held between Friday and Sunday in Southampton.
One participant, Jean Legg, whose father was a steward on the ship, said: "They are using the Titanic because of the tragedy - it's upsetting."
Ms Legg said: "My dad lived to be nearly 90 and the sights and sounds of people fighting for their lives stayed with him to the end of his days.
"If he knew this was being replicated, I think he'd be turning in his grave.
"I find it very upsetting, I feel they could have replicated another liner - it's in poor taste."
Robert Burr, the grandson of a steward who lost his life, had the same objection. "It doesn't suit the situation," he added.
But the society's president, Commodore Ron Warwick, said the replica would "perpetuate the memory of those who lost their lives".
Bruce Beverage, whose American firm is helping to design the theme park, said he had convinced Mr Su to drop plans for a simulated iceberg crash as part of a "6D holiday experience".
He said: "When they hired me I said, 'No, it would be in poor taste'."
The original liner, built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast, sank when it hit an iceberg on 15 April 1912 on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.
The replica is set to form the centrepiece of the theme park in Sichuan province, which is due to admit its first visitors in August.
Work on the ship began in May 2014 and is due to be completed by early 2019.