Tickets for Titanic replica are selling already... and it hasn't even been built yet
'New Titanic' is under construction in China
Tickets have gone on sale for the first full-scale replica of the Titanic - even though the controversial project won't be ready for another two years.
As exclusively revealed by the Belfast Telegraph, the new tourist attraction is currently under construction in China, where it will form the centrepiece of a theme park.
On the replica liner - simply called New Titanic - tourists will be able to experience a simulation of what it may have felt like when the ill-fated original struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage in 1912.
And critics of the £250m project believe that recreating a disaster in which more than 1,500 died is in extremely poor taste.
"Having an attraction where it replicates what it's like for the Titanic to sink is out of order and disrespectful to those who did lose their lives and their relatives," said John Wilson, the chief executive of the Liverpool Seafarers' Centre.
"A lot of lives were lost and this is not something which sits easy."
The chairman of the Belfast Titanic Committee, Dr Aidan McMichael, said any commemoration should be done sensitively.
"Given China's remoteness from the story, there remains a risk that it would be sensationalised," he said. "But if used to interpret the story, then that would be acceptable."
Tickets went on sale after the official launch of the project in Hong Kong earlier this week.
Seven Star Energy Investment began assembling parts for the replica last month and expects to complete the project by August 2017 - the same amount of time it took Harland and Wolff to build the original at the Belfast shipyard more than 100 years ago.
The Chinese State-run shipbuilder has promised that the new ship will be a virtual carbon copy of the original.
Unlike its predecessor, the Titanic replica will never grace Belfast or Southampton, or the Atlantic.
Instead, it will be permanently docked 900 miles inland.