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Consensus that destinations in Asia must pull together to maximise cruise potential

L-R: Alice Ko, Patrice Henry and Kenneth Wong at Seatrade Cruise Global 2023
Destinations in Asia must band together to drive the region’s cruise growth was the message from the ‘Emerging Markets Panel’ at Seatrade Cruise Global Wednesday.

From Korea Tourism Organization’s New York office, Marketing Manager Patrice Henry explained that Korea benefits from cruises out of Hong Kong, while Kenneth Wong, GM for MICE and cruise, Hong Kong Tourism Board, explained that sourcing passengers from mainland China is a key driver for Hong Kong’s growth.

‘Asian destinations need to work together,’ concurred Alice Ko, chief, international affairs division, Taiwan Tourism Bureau.

All three destinations are part of the Asia Cruise Cooperation which unites on marketing efforts to attract cruise lines, in addition to the range of incentives being offered by Hong Kong.

Taiwan is foremost trying to attract more Japanese cruise passengers, as well as passengers from Hong Kong, Philippines and Vietnam. Korea has eased its customs and immigration rules, enabling cruise ships to berth for 24 hours without the need for permits.

Gaining a competitive edge

Moderator Joel Katz, MD, Australasia & Asia for Cruise Lines International Association, observed that Asia is the second largest cruise market in the world, accounting for nearly 15% of global passengers. ‘The growth of cruising in Asia represents a tremendous opportunity for the industry, and cruise lines that can successfully navigate the unique challenges and opportunities of the Asian market really stand to gain a significant competitive edge, while also helping to promote economic growth and developments across the region,’ he said.

‘K’ culture

‘K-food, K-pop, K-film, you name it: it’s driving a whole lot of cruise business to South Korea,’ asserted Henry. The destination’s new cruise port at Seosan will receive its first cruise ship in May 2024. Korea aims to attract 1.5m cruise passengers by 2027.

In Hong Kong, there are 86m in the cities of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area who now have greater access to Hong Kong via High Speed Rail and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, reducing journey time from four hours to 40 minutes, explained Wong. It is in addition to the new Hong Kong Palace Museum along the harbor of Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, and M+, a museum of contemporary visual culture. The Peak Tram to panoramic views from Victoria Peak has also been given a makeover, with new sixth-generation tram cars complete with glass ceilings. There are works to improve connections between downtown Hong Kong and the cruise terminal for passengers’ ease of travel between the two.

In Taiwan, Kaohsiung has a brand-new new cruise passenger terminal while Keelung’s cruise passenger terminal has undergone renovation.

‘Taiwan Tourism Bureau is focused on green tourism,’ noted Ko. ‘We try to balance the environment and economic growth, and also we want to have a green lifestyle in Taiwan.’