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CLIA Southeast Asia’s Sherry outlines key findings of 2014 cruise study

Ann Sherry: An 'historic' number of ships, passengers and ports in Asia
The second and most comprehensive 2014 Asia Cruise Trends study shows double-digit annual growth over the past two years, with historic numbers of ships, passengers and ports.

‘CLIA commissioned the study to give all stakeholders a compelling overview of cruise industry growth in Asia as an indication of its potential for further expansion,’ CLIA Southeast Asia chair, Ann Sherry, said.

CLIA Global chairman Adam Goldstein and Sherry first announced the findings during this year's Cruise Shipping Miami, following which Seatrade Insider reported a brief overview. Below, is a more detailed analysis of the key points

‘With cruise lines hosting nearly 1.4m Asian guests last year, a 34% increase in just two years, the global cruise industry has recognised that Asia is quickly becoming a major international market in its own right,’ Sherry said.

‘It is exciting for the first time to know the true size of Asian source markets and to present a stunning picture of the opportunities that cruising presents for the region.

‘The cruise industry is responding by offering more cruises that deliver experiences especially tailored to Asian travellers but are at the same time just as attractive to international travellers wanting to experience Asia’s wide array of fascinating destinations.'

CLIA Australasia gm Brett Jardine said the Asia cruise boom is good news for the Australasian region.

‘We welcome the continued increase in deployment in the Asian region and the potential opportunities this provides for the Australasian market, both in terms of seasonal deployments and as a source market,’ Jardine said.

‘With more ships based in the region, Australia and New Zealand will likely see a greater number of ships, as well as larger capacity ships, which would require infrastructure investment to take advantage of the growth opportunities,’ he said.

Below are key findings of the study:

1,   The capacity to carry passengers continues to soar with the introduction of new and larger ships in the region. Since 2013, passenger capacity grew at a 20% compound annual growth rate and is expected to reach almost 2.2 million in 2015. The Asia region has quickly progressed to fourth in passenger capacity deployment, tied with Australasia.

2.   From 2012 to 2014, the number of Chinese passengers grew 79% per year.  In 2014, 697,000 passengers were from mainland China which is almost as many passengers as all other Asian markets combined (701,000).

3.   China’s Generation Y (aged under 35 years) made up most of the country’s outbound travel, according to statistics from the World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF). This trend is echoed in the cruise industry. In four of the largest cruise markets – China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines – more than four out of 10 passengers were under 40.

4.   This year, 52 cruise ships will operate in Asia, a 10% compound annual growth rate since 2013. The number of cruises and longer voyages in the region has also grown with 1,065 sailings scheduled this year, up 11% per year. There has also been a significant increase in the number of days cruise ships are in operation, from 4,307 operating days in 2013 to 5,824 operating days in 2015.

5.   While Asian outbound tourism is exploding around the world, the study found that Asian cruisers are primarily exploring Asian destinations. More than nine out of ten Asian passengers (91%) cruised within Asia. The remaining 9% flew to cruise destinations outside the region, primarily in Europe, followed by Alaska and the Caribbean.

6.   Cruising in the region includes more than 168 destinations across 18 countries, making travelling by cruise ship one of the easiest ways to see all that Asia has to offer. While the introduction of new ports throughout Asia is great for travellers, it is also great for local economies. With a 34% increase in port calls since 2013, cruise lines are bringing more visitors to destinations in Asia having a direct impact on economic growth in the region. Japan ranks top with 646 port calls planned in 2015, followed by Malaysia (580), South Korea (377), Singapore and Thailand (374 each).

7.   Depending on the market, many Asian guests have limited holiday entitlements making short cruises preferable. In 2014, 48% of Asian passengers chose four to six day cruises, 38% chose cruises of two to three nights, and only 12% opted for seven to 13 night cruises.

8.   Cruise lines have recognised the need to bring their best ships and amenities to the region. New onboard offerings tailored to the Asian guests include inclusive onboard activities aimed at multi-generational families, high-end shopping, and adapted menus to include familiar favourites and regional cuisine.