Asia has the potential to become one of the world’s biggest cruise markets with broad economic benefits driven by the cruise industry’s long value chain, Carnival Australia CEO Ann Sherry has told the ASEAN Tourism Forum Ministers’ Meeting in Sarawak.
Speaking at the event yesterday as Director of the Asia Cruise Association, Ms Sherry welcomed the interest shown by governments in South East Asia in encouraging the growth of the industry. She said a white paper produced recently by the Association – ‘The Cruise Industry in Asia 2013 and Beyond’ – had outlined a pathway to cruise industry growth in Asia.
In highlighting the scope of the opportunity, Ms Sherry said: “A cruise ship arriving at a destination with two and a half thousand passengers carries the equivalent of around five fully laden A380 jets. Add each ship’s crew and you have another two full A380 aircraft. It is easy to visualise the positive impact of cruising.”
Ms Sherry said Asia had a platform for future growth highlighted by the following landmarks:
- 1.5 million people in Asia already cruised each year and Carnival Asia forecast this would increase to nearly four million by 2017 and to seven million by 2020
- 762 cruises took place in Asia last year and another 58 visited Asia after starting or ending voyages outside the region
- Cruise ships last year visited 117 destinations in Asia and 17 separate countries
- In the first quarter of 2014, Asia would account for 247 cruises – 22 per cent more than for the same period last year.
Ms Sherry said governments in Asia could support local cruise industry growth by making source market and economic data available to assist cruise lines in market development and itinerary planning.
Governments could also improve the passenger experience by streamlining visa requirements and procedures and upgrade infrastructure to develop a network of ports to allow for the popularity in Asia of short break cruises.
Ms Sherry identified Malaysia as a positive case study where the government had developed a cohesive national strategy to attract cruise ship visits to maximise the economic benefits of the sector’s expansion.
In line with shared responsibility for growth, Ms Sherry said the cruise industry could contribute to the training of travel agents to enhance distribution networks and assist governments in planning for industry expansion in the region.
The industry would also continue to tailor the product offering with dining, accommodation and entertainment features that appealed to Asian travellers.
Ms Sherry said major cruise facilities in some of Asia’s biggest cities were a step forward but there was also a need to develop other ports in Asia where the availability of facilities was currently patchy.
“Mega-tourism centres aren’t essential for port calls at incredible destinations, of which Asia has many,” Ms Sherry said. “Over capitalising port assets can be a risk. Cruise ships need channels deep enough for safe passage and piers to allow ships to berth alongside. Space and a welcoming environment for passengers and access to key local attractions completes the requirements for an effective cruise facility.”