Giving a relatively newcomer’s perspective Hong Kong-based Felix Chan, vp of sales, Asia, Norwegian Cruise Line said until 16 months ago Norwegian had no offices in Asia but has since opened offices, in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing, Australia and also in Tokyo, Singapore, Mumbai and New Delhi.
He said putting people on the ground in these locations, is reflective of where it sees the growth markets are.
‘In catering to these various markets there is no one size fits all solution,’ he observed.
While all have the similarity of having huge domestic markets, trends and tastes are different, he commented: Indian cruisers for instance are younger with young families while Japanese are more mature - and each demographic has different needs and tastes. Choice and customization are especially important in the Asian market according to Chan.
The upcoming Norwegian Joy, made for China is NCL'S first such purpose-built ship.
Michael Goh, svp, sales at Star Cruises, pointed to the brand’s two Global Class 5,000 lower berth newbuilds intended to tap into the China market as evidence of the potential in Asia. They will be starting operations between 2019 and 2020.
Goh said penetration is still currently low but by 2020 China is expected to have 4.5m passengers and by 2030 expectations are that penetration will increase to between 0.5% - 1% and China’s annual passengers will reach up to 8 to 10m.
Goh also looked at the exponential growth in outbound passengers from India and Hong Kong as disposable incomes increase.
Looking at the growth in Korea's cruise market, Dr Harry Baek, president & ceo Lotte Tour Development Co. Ltd said in 2015 some 13.2m international tourists visited Korea, of which 6.5% or 870 ,000 were cruise tourists.
He compared the fast track 9.1% growth of cruise tourism is Asia compared to 5.1% globally.
He said the increased cruise calls by increasingly larger vessels with more passengers since 2010, needed better facilitation.
He advocated reducing CIQ entry formalities so that cruise vessels can maximize their passengers shore experience. He also asked cruise lines and relevant authorities is to promote cruise awareness through various means including TV.
Dr Baek also called for the government to develop Gangwon as a popular cruise destination with Sokcho as a gateway port.