'The potential is clearly enormous,' said moderator Mary Bond, managing director of publishing and editor, Seatrade Cruise Review/Seatrade Insider.
Carnival Australia's Ann Sherry and chair of CLIA SE Asia kick-started the proceedings presenting a snapshot of the newly announced CLIA report on the Asia cruise market. It shows passenger capacity will continue to soar in an effort to keep up with snowballing demand. The report stated cruise lines hosted nearly 1.4m Asian passengers in 2014.
Port infrastructure is growing at a staggering pace, as well.
'The development is breathtaking,' said Dominic Paul, svp, international, for Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, and managing director, RCL Cruises Ltd.
Alan Buckelew, coo for Carnival Corporation & Plc, foresees double-digit growth well into the next decade. He said the Chinese upper-middle class is growing quickly and will number 225m by 2022.
Currently, more than 100m Chinese travel internationally, and this statistic will only increase once visa restrictions are eased.
Buckelew stressed the need to effectively communicate the value of cruising to this burgeoning market. In fact he has relocated to China to facilitate Carnival’s role in growing the market.
In addition, there is a 'thirst by local travel agents to learn the details of our business,' said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises.
It also helps that tourism bureaus across the region are willing to work across countries. Swartz cites the Hong Kong and Singapore tourism bureaus as excellent examples of collaboration. And Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. is partnering with hospitality schools in China to staff its ships.
What could slow this bullet train down? 'One of the limitations would be shipbuilding,' said Paul.(Kelly Liszt)