1. How many calls did you have in 2023? How are you doing this year?
Since the reopening of international cruise travel in January, Hong Kong’s cruise tourism has progressively resumed to pre-pandemic levels. We have so far secured the return of 18 cruise lines and over 160 ship calls in 2023, accounting for 74% of the pre-pandemic figures in 2019.
2. What is the outlook for the coming years?
Hong Kong cruise scene has made a remarkable comeback since the beginning of the year and is expected to continue an upward trajectory with healthy growth rate in the years ahead. This positive trend is reinforced by the increasing number of cruise lines committing to deploy their ships in Hong Kong and to include the city in their sailing itineraries and hence the anticipation of strong demand for cruise travel.
Besides, the strong resumption of air capacity in Hong Kong is accelerating the return of fly-cruise travel, driving more international visitors who often choose to extend their stay to immerse themselves in all that this city has to offer. Hong Kong has been launching and upgrading a variety of attractions over the past years, offering an array of new arts and cultural experiences, for example, the Hong Kong Palace Museum and M+ Museum in West Kowloon district, the uplift of Peak Tram etc, bringing in new excitement to enrich visitors’ experiences.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong SAR Government is also highly committed to developing the cruise business. It has already earmarked additional funding for the Hong Kong Tourism Board to support the cruise deployments in Hong Kong as well as drive demand from key source markets.
3. Are you planning any infrastructure developments that you’d like to share?
The Hong Kong SAR Government saw the importance of infrastructure in the cruise industry development more than 10 years ago. Thus, in addition to the Ocean Terminal, we transformed the previous airport runway into a world-class cruise terminal (Kai Tak Cruise Terminal) in 2013 to cater for the increasing number of mega cruise ships being built. Over the years, enhancement work of the city’s transportation network continues, with more transport infrastructures and road networks to be built around the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal. Upon completion of the said projects, the travelling time from Kowloon Bay district where the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal is located to key tourist districts will be significantly reduced. For example, by 2025, it will take only 5 mins to travel from Kowloon Bay district to West Kowloon.
As the region’s key homeport and turnaround port, accessibility to the global source markets is very crucial. While our air network already connects Hong Kong to half of the world’s population in 5 hours, the capacity of the Hong Kong International Airport will further be enhanced by the addition of a third runway system, which is scheduled for completion in 2024.
The Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macao Bridge and High-Speed Rail connect Hong Kong to the 86 million population in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA). Hong Kong, as part of the core cities in GBA, offers cruise lines excellent opportunities to develop cruise products and attract visitors from southern mainland cities.
4. Which cruise lines are calling most frequently? Any exciting upcoming calls to note?
Resorts World Cruises has played an essential role in reigniting the cruise industry in Hong Kong with its year-round homeport deployment with Resort World One, offering three departures from Kai Tak Cruise Terminal on a weekly basis. Additionally, the cruise prospect in Hong Kong has received a significant boost with the recent announcement from Royal Caribbean International. The cruise line has confirmed Spectrum of the Seas’ seasonal deployment in Hong Kong in winter 2024.
Meanwhile, renowned international cruise brands such as Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Silversea Cruises, TUI Cruises also show their vote of confidence to Hong Kong by committing multiple cruise calls from 2023 onwards. The continuous support from our cruise line partners reinforces Hong Kong’s position as an attractive cruise port in the region.
5. How soon do you envisage cruising in Asia returning to pre-pandemic numbers (ships and passengers) and what needs to happen to get back to that?
While it is challenging to predict an exact timeline for the return of cruising in Asia, I am confident that through the combined efforts, coordination and cooperation among the region’s authorities, the industry will swiftly set path for recovery and regain its pre-pandemic levels of ships and passengers in no time.
In line with this objective, the Hong Kong Tourism Board maintains a close collaboration with neighboring destinations to facilitate cruise lines’ deployment planning and to foster the development of new itineraries and shore excursions. We believe the revival of cruise industry in the region can be achieved through consistent communication, effective marketing and promotions as well as collaborative efforts.
Hong Tourism board are supporters of this years Seatrade Cruise Asia Pacific event happening 24-26 October 2023.
Register for your ticket here