Speaking at CSAP2014 in Hong Kong, Lorenzo Diamantini, vice general manager of MSC Cruises' Shanghai office explained how his company sees Asia growing as a source market.
'Today, our target is middle-‐class, intrepid travellers who are ready to make the journey to Europe,' he said.
He claims MSC currently enjoys the largest market share of the outbound market of Chinese tourists cruising in the Med.
'We’re also very optimistic about the future of this strategy, given that around 11% more Chinese people are travelling to Europe every year and the number is set to accelerate when the EU relaxes its visa policies,' he continued.
MSC Cruises has carried over 40,000 Chinese and Japanese travellers this year, mainly to the Med and North Europe which is more than double the number in 2012, explained Diamantini who arrived in China this spring.
Whilst demand for Eastern Med itineraries is grwoing, in the main due to improving flight connections from China's main cities, 'the most popular canvas for China remains the West Mediterranean in summer where we carried more than 9,000 Chinese guests this year.'
MSC Cruises, which has operations across Asia in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka; in Shanghai; Hong Kong and Taiwan; in South Korea; Japan; Thailand; Malaysia; Singapore and Indonesia as well as Australia and New Zealand calls its Asia presence ‘exploratory' said Diamentini.
'We see the huge market potential and we are 100% committed to Asia.
'MSC Cruises will make its move when the time is right, he commented.'
'Next spring we’ll make our first Asian calls, when MSC on a Grand Voyage stops in Singapore and Mumbai.'
He said Asian cruisers in the Med, particularly from China and Japan, are big spenders - on average they spend twice as much as everyone else during their MSC cruise.
'We fully accommodate this love of shopping, especially around Golden Week and Chinese New Year,' he added.
Also showcasing the Med's appeal at CSAP2014 was MedCruise’s president Carla Salvadό, as a guest speaker during the travel agents training session, a comprehensive education programme attended by over 60 agents from across the region.
Τhe MedCruise delegation which also included secretary general Thanos Pallis along with board director Bojan Babič from the port of Koper, updated cruise lines, travel agents, and other stakeholders on the facilities offered by 100 port members and the prospects of cruising in the world’s second most popular destination.
All agents received a copy of the 2013-14 MedCruise Yearbook and port member update in e-format. Also produced for the event, a Chinese-language version of MedCruise News highlighting the history, architecture, culture, gastronomy and sights found in 19 countries around the Mediterranean.