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Cruise industry booms in Asia

cruise thailandWhilst the US remains the world’s leading source market for cruise passengers, Asia is emerging as a major market for the cruise industry. All eyes will be on Asia in the coming years as the increase of passengers across the region is enormous; with 3.1 million guests taking cruises from Asia in 2016, a 55% increase on 2015.

Mainland China is the main driver of growth in Asia, accounting for 2.1 million passengers, a market which grew by 99% last year. However growth was also to be found within the other major source markets in Asia during this period, including Taiwan (236,800 passengers), Japan (215,400) Singapore (196,900) and India (120,000), according to CLIA.

The increase in passenger numbers across Asia naturally had a positive impact on the size of the fleet deployed there. There were 66 ships deployed in Asian waters this year, representing an increase in capacity of 31% from the previous year.

Looking at India as a source market, Mark Ittel, Partner, SVP Ports & Maritime, Bermello Ajamil Partners commented: “The cruise prospect for India is vast and exciting! Implementing and following through on the recommendations developed as part of the Cruise Action Strategy will be the key to success. A push to develop an Indian domestic cruise market is a key influencer of the long-term vision for India. With the right product mix this could be an exceptional market opportunity.”

David Rousham, VP UK & International Development, Cunard had this to say about the growing appeal of Australasia said, "Increasingly the Australasia region is gaining more focus as the appeal of this area for all of our inbound guests, as well as locally sourced guests, continues to grow. Highly competitive air fares between Asia and Australia mean that our guests enjoy open jaw cruises of between 15 and 25 days, often tagging on additional Asian or Australian loops. The growth in this area has started to more strongly influence our deployment plans, and in 2019 we have introduced a much longer season for Queen Elizabeth in the region - which in terms of booking volumes proving of great success."

Assessing whether this growth in Asia will continue, Ted Blamey, Principal, CHART Management Consultants Psy Ltd has the following view point: “Last year the Asian source markets as a whole grew hugely. But 96% of total growth was due to mainland China (up 1.05 million passengers). Will that continue? New ships do keep arriving, homeports keep expanding, the market grows in sophistication, the distribution system is maturing, the penetration is still tiny, the opportunities vast. But real concerns have arisen this year that may dampen the enthusiasm we all have for China. The restriction on travel to Korea has removed the most popular destination for Chinese cruise tourists. Itineraries have been compromised, particularly in the short cruise durations chosen by 96% of Chinese. Cruises from China are also restricted to Taiwan and cabotage prevents calls at other China ports. Japan is the only option left. Attractive as the many destinations there are, will that stunt the growth we all had expected?”

All those questions will find their answers when cruise industry representatives come together this coming November at Seatrade Cruise Asia Pacific conference that takes place in Baoshan (Shanghai) from 1-3 November 2017 at The Delta Hotel by Marriott.