For the first time, four ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries; Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines came together at the annual Cruise Shipping Miami (CSM) event to raise awareness of the region to industry stakeholders. Under a unified ASEAN umbrella, their booths located next to one another promoted the potential of cruising in Southeast Asia as representatives shared personal stories of the region’s beauty and handed out country-specific collaterals to the delegates.
With more than 25,000 islands in Southeast Asia, cruise is a potential key tourism product for the region. The collaboration underscores the commitment by ASEAN – where Singapore is the lead co-ordinator for cruise – to further its development.
Ms Annie Chang, Deputy Director (Cruise), Singapore Tourism Board said, "Southeast Asia has bountiful potential to be the next cruising playground of the world. I’m thus pleased to be able to come together with our ASEAN neighbours to show key cruise stakeholders what this region can offer.
“Our region is incredibly rich and diverse; one can visit mystifying ancient cities, lush rainforests and cosmopolitan cities all within a cruise journey. We also enjoy a year-round tropical climate and calm waters, making it very conducive for year-round cruising. Many international cruise brands are already doing seasonal home-porting here but there is so much more to be made known still, and the co-location of our booths was thus an excellent platform to do just that,” added Ms Chang.
The ASEAN delegation also held a special reception for guests at the event, which featured iconic Southeast Asian delicacies such as satay (meat barbecued and served on skewers), and mango sticky rice.
Guests were also treated to traditional dance items by Filipino and Thai troupes.
Ms Mitchelle Dy, Tourism Director (New York), Philippine Department of Tourism said, "A cruise vacation can't happen with just one port so it’s heartening to see our ASEAN neighbours sharing a common objective, which is to seize the opportunities on the massive potential in the region.
“I truly believe Southeast Asia can become a major player in the cruising world, and judging by how the guests enjoyed themselves at our reception, hopefully the seeding of our region in their minds will eventually grow into a blossoming cruise industry within ASEAN.”
Mr Ahmad Johanif Mohd Ali, Vice President (New York), Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board added, “We are glad to have been a part of ASEAN’s show in strength and unity at CSM 2015. Great things can be achieved when people come together and that is what we feel can happen for the cruise industry in Southeast Asia.
“It is important now that all of us build on this and help make Southeast Asia the place to be for cruising.”
Other key initiatives supported by ASEAN include the co-funding of the monthly ASEAN Cruise News, an online newsletter that serves to strengthen regional trade capabilities and reach out to global cruise operators, as well as a 10-day familiarisation trip through four Southeast Asian countries – Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia – for shore excursions and itinerary planners from various cruise lines to help them better understand the region’s exciting offerings.