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Ports in Asia share cruise update in Miami

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Kenneth Wong, In Seong Hwang and Paulo Benito S. Tugbang toast to Asia, its potential and recent achievements in the region on the first day of Seatrade Cruise Global in Miami
An update on cruising in China, Korea and the Philippines was shared this afternoon during a lunch organised by Hong Kong Tourism Board on the first day of Seatrade Cruise Global 2024.  

At the W Hotel South Beach – close to the Miami Beach Convention Center where Seatrade Cruise Global is taking place from April 8-11 – cruise industry leaders and the media attended ‘The Rebound of Asia's Destinations’ lunch, which involved entertainment, as well as presentations from representatives of each region.  

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China

More international cruise brands will sail to Hong Kong this year, with 28 predicted versus 18 in 2023. ‘Hopefully we’ll attract more homeport deployments,’ stated Kenneth Wong, GM for MICE and cruise, Hong Kong Tourism Board. HKTB is in active discussions with MSC Cruises and Princess Cruises on the subject, he said. 

One of Wong’s big ambitions is to ‘reinforce Hong Kong as a marquee port,’ while working with more ports in Asia to drive international cruise lines to the region. Wong hopes MSC Cruises’ and Royal Caribbean International’s return to mainland China in particular will encourage international arrivals. 

‘All of the destinations in Asia share the same vision and attitude,’ expressed Wong. ‘They have invested so much in building infrastructure and they see the value of cruising.’ 

In aviation, the passenger load factor stands at 70% and is forecast to reach 100% by the end of the year, which ‘will drive Asia’s recovery,’ Wong asserted.  

AIDA Cruises, TUI Cruises and Nicko Cruises are among the cruise lines showing growing interest in cruising in Asia, Wong revealed. He said, ‘Strategically positioned in the heart of Asia and at the doorstep of mainland China, Hong Kong offers convenient visa-free travel and state-of-the-art air-land-sea transportation. It serves as an ideal homeport for cruise lines to develop alluring fly-cruise and rail-cruise products that incorporate Asia’s exotic and vibrant destinations…’

​​Xiamen International Cruise Terminal 2, set to be operational by September, features smart construction and security screening systems. The terminal is seamlessly connected to a three-floor exhibition hall with various amusements and dining options. 

Zhong Hailin, deputy director of Xiamen Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism added, ‘Xiamen… boasts breathtaking natural landscapes and an abundance of cultural heritage. Our imposing cruise terminal, along with the Xiamen Airport operating diverse domestic, international and regional routes, can amply support the development of flexible fly-cruise programs covering domestic and regional destinations.’ 

The Philippines 

Seatrade Cruise Asia will take place in Manila from November 12-13, co-locating with Seatrade Maritime Crew Connect Global – the premier gathering for professionals in marine crewing and seafarer welfare – at Shangri-La The Fort. 

A cruise visa waiver has been introduced for travellers from China arriving to the Philippines by cruise ship – part of the government’s strategy to encourage cruise tourism, having recognised the industry’s role in local job creation. 

Plus, in the next five years, the Philippines will enhance five new cruise ports –  at Boracay, Coron, Camiguin, Siargao and Puerto Galera – said Paulo Benito S. Tugbang, product and market development, tourism development sector, Philippines Department of Tourism. 

Before the pandemic, the country received approximately 100 cruise calls; in 2022 and 2023 it racked up between 150-200 cruise calls, with similar figures projected for 2024. 

The Philippines Department of Tourism is working on building new experiences for cruise passengers after being granted three awards by UNESCO for gastronomy, arts and crafts.

Korea 

Two new deep-water cruise ports in Pohang and Daesan are planned in Korea. Pohang Yeongilman Port International Passenger Terminal is nestled within a city that has unspoilt nature and where there are plans for a new shopping and resort complex. 

Daesan Port in Seosan serves as a brand-new access point on the west coast, allowing cruise passengers to explore the region recognised for its historic holy grounds, temples and Buddhist relics.

In Seong Hwang, deputy director of the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries of Korea, said, ‘Korea is an attractive cruise destination and the epicenter of K-culture, including K-pop, K-drama and K-food. Coupled with its rich traditional culture and history, magnificent tourist attractions and a plethora of shopping facilities and accommodations, Korea creates an ideal environment for cruise travellers to enjoy sightseeing, unique experiences, shopping and relaxation.’

While China is a major source market for Korea, there are five fly cruises to the country from Europe expected in 2024, and 10 in 2025. There were two fly cruises to Korea out of Europe in 2023. 

Korea received 204 cruise calls in 2023 and will receive 405 this year. 

TAGS: China