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China lagged as Asia cruise market grew overall in 2018

Explorer Dream
Added capacity is expected to lift China's cruise numbers going forward. Pictured here: the recently inaugurated Explorer Dream (ex SuperStar Virgo) is targeting Chinese travelers
Asia’s cruise passenger source market hit a new high in 2018 with 4.24m people taking an ocean cruise, up 4.6% year-on-year, according to data released today by Cruise Lines International Association that was first announced last month at Seatrade Cruise Global.

14.8% market share

Asia continues to be the cruise industry’s third largest market after North America and Europe, maintaining a 14.8% share of the total global ocean passenger volume of 28.5m in 2018.

Most of the source markets in Asia saw year-on-year gains in 2018 except mainland China and Malaysia. In particular, passenger volume from Singapore, India, Indonesia, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam had double-digit growth.

1.6% decline in China

China retained its dominance as a source market, accounting for 55.8% of all Asian passengers, though the Chinese market has been going through a period of adjustment and had a marginal 1.6% decline in passengers.

The more measured increase in Asia’s passenger volume did not come as a surprise as cruise ship capacity dipped in 2018 after years of rapid expansion in this region.

Asia’s slowdown in ship capacity is due to the strong demand for cruise ships worldwide, and reduced short cruise itinerary options ex-mainland China.

More berths heading to Asia

'In the next few years, cruising in Asia is expected to continue growing in popularity with the arrival of new ships in 2019/2020 including from Costa Cruises, Genting Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International and MSC Cruises,' said CLIA Managing Director for Australasia & Asia Joel Katz.

'We also see several Asian destinations building new infrastructure to support cruise development,' he said. 'Consumer interest in cruise has also been rising as Asian travelers discover the ease, relaxation and value of a cruise vacation.'

A detailed report on the Asia source market is to follow.

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