He said a year round presence in China, is a force in developing the market. ‘We have a very strategic approach here in China,’ said the Carnival Corp executive. Princess Cruises’ Majestic Princess was the group’s first purpose-built ship for China, with two more Costa ships tailor-made for China expected in 2019 and 2020.
Thamm described the cruise industry in China ‘to be at an early stage’.
He said it was important to focus on the long term, and build a high-quality eco system. ‘Customer demand, product, distribution, ship management, and newbuilds are all part of this ecosystem,’ he remarked.
He added everything starts with the consumer: ‘We need to transform the value proposition and communicate it.’
‘Creating future demand is the key to future success,’ he said.
‘The current system, largely based on the charter market is not sustainable and we need to move to a commission-based system.
Dr Zinan Liu, president, China and North Asia Pacific, Royal Caribbean International, began with a reminder of how basic economics applied to China’s cruise industry. ‘When volume goes up, price goes down and cyclic changes will take place, as in all industries.’
He said what those in the cruise industry need to be concerned about is the sustainability of the growth of the cruise industry in China. ‘The cornerstone for this consumer-concentric industry is sustainable customer satisfaction,’ he added.
Cruising in China is not just economic revenue but also brings about cultural and lifestyle changes, he added.
Citing challenges to growth, Liu picked on ‘port services such as CIQ clearance and the on-shore experience which is boring as it mainly about shopping.’
Liu said, ‘there is a lot to be done and we are going to work with travel and tourism agencies to change this.’
He suggested passengers needed to wander on their own and soak in the atmosphere and history, culture and food tasting: ‘That is one of our focuses in 2018 to design new shorex.’
Referencing the restrictions on Chinese travellers to South Korea, Lui said he was hopeful of a solution soon.
Changing the distrubtion system and the eco system will take some time, he concluded: ‘China, for historic reasons, is retailer weak and wholesaler strong .
Gianni Onorato, ceo MSC Cruises called his company a newcomer to the Chinese market with home market ship, MSC Lirica being replaced by MSC Splendida next year, ‘as we start to grow our commitment to China’.
He said he believed there is space in the Chinese market for every line but he warned ‘China cannot grow in the way we want it without the rest of APAC markets growing.’
Seasonality, for instance, makes the various regions inter dependent, he commented.
Referencing the company’s new World-Class newbuilds and without giving away any information on their deployment, he said they will cater to all passenger source markets but when the ships come to China they will have features to cater to the local market.