David Herrera, president, NCL China who is participating in the ‘Market Overview – China’ session on November 2, 2017 in Baoshan (Shanghai) commented: ‘The long term fundamentals for growth in China remain sound. While still in the early stages of development, the Chinese homeport industry has seen incredible growth these past few years and has become an important market for the industry.’
Commenting on China’s ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative, Kenneth Wong, gm, MICE & Cruise, Hong Kong Tourism Board, also a speaker, had the following view: ‘We believe the Belt and Road Initiative will fuel the growth of the cruise market in China. As a “Key Link” and a “Super-Connector” for the Belt and Road, Hong Kong can tap into opportunities to strengthen cooperation with other destinations along the Maritime Silk Road, especially in cruise development.’
In recent years, the HKTB has been actively expanding regional cooperation in cruise tourism through Asia Cruise Cooperation. ‘We will continue to explore more collaborations with provinces and cities in the mainland, as well as other destinations in the Belt and Road region to open up more regional business opportunities,’ added Wong.
Assessing whether this growth in Asia will continue, Ted Blamey, principal, CHART Management Consultants Psy Ltd has the following view point: 'Last year the Asian source markets as a whole grew hugely. But 96% of total growth was due to mainland China (up 1.05 million passengers). Will that continue?
'New ships do keep arriving, homeports keep expanding, the market grows in sophistication, the distribution system is maturing, the penetration is still tiny, the opportunities vast.
'But real concerns have arisen this year that may dampen the enthusiasm we all have for China. The restriction on travel to Korea has removed the most popular destination for Chinese cruise tourists. Itineraries have been compromised, particularly in the short cruise durations chosen by 96% of Chinese. Cruises from China are also restricted to Taiwan and cabotage prevents calls at other China ports. Japan is the only option left. Attractive as the many destinations there are, will that stunt the growth we all had expected,' Blamey commented.
The full panel lineup for the China Market Overview session is: Thatcher Brown, president, Dream Cruises; David Herrera, president, NCL China; Helen Huang, president Greater China, MSC Cruises; Anthony Kaufman, evp international operations, Princess Cruises; Ken Muskat, ceo, SkySea Cruise Line; Kenneth Wong, general manager, MICE and Cruise, HKTB and Mario Zanetti, president, Costa Group Asia.
The growth of the cruise industry in Asia has been phenomenal, with China experiencing growth like no other country, overtaking Germany as the number 2 source market globally in 2016. This growth is represented by the vast increase in passenger numbers, which saw 2.1m passengers travel from China last year(a 99% increase from the previous year).
The Chinese government is predicting that 4.5m people from China will take cruises by 2020.
‘With a population of 1.3 billion and a current market penetration of less than 1% cruising, the numbers stack up for a bright future for China,’ noted moderator of the session Mary Bond, editor of Seatrade Cruise News.
‘As with any emerging market there are challenges and the potential can only be truly realised if supply matches growing demand. It will also be interesting to see how long before Chinese travellers start cruising in large numbers beyond Asian waters. This could also be a game changer for the global industry,’ she added.
The level of optimism in the Asia Pacific region is clear to see and this interest is reflected by the number of major cruise line brands who have registered to attend SCAP 2017 next week: Carnival Maritime, Carnival UK, Carnival Corporation & PLC, Celestyal Cruises, Coral Expeditions, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Genting Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Hurtigruten, MSC Cruises, MSC Cruise Management (UK) Ltd, MSC Group, Norwegian Cruise Line, Ponant Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, SkySea Cruise Line and Windstar Cruises.