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The development of the cruise industry in Asia – exploring the opportunities and challenges

This substantial growth is reflected in the increase of passengers across the region, with 3.1 million guests taking cruises from Asia in 2016, a 55% increase on 2015.

LONDON – The cruise industry continues to increase in demand, with projected growth increasing annually. Whilst 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 this coming November as cruise industry leaders meet to discuss the projected growth potential of this major market. Seatrade Cruise Asia Pacific conference takes place in Baoshan (Shanghai) from 1-3 November 2017

This substantial growth is reflected in the increase of passengers across the region, 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 Asian cruise market has grown tremendously over recent years – it has the potential to capture a much larger percentage of the population, which could catapult Asia’s capacity share ahead of other markets. While we expected Asia to experience record-breaking growth, the rate at which the region is emerging as one of the most significant cruise destinations and cruise source markets in the world is extraordinary” commented Joel Katz, MD, CLIA Australasia.

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.

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?”

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: “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.”

A Market Overview on Asia Pacific is a key topic being discussed at Seatrade Cruise Asia Pacific, taking place in Baoshan (Shanghai) from 1-3 November 2017 at The Delta Hotel by Marriott. Industry leaders from the region will discuss:

  • The opportunities and challenges in South East Asia and South Asia to tap into emerging source markets and to increase  deployment
  • The strategic role Australasia plays and its source market influence on deployments across Asia-Pacific and further afield
  • How to achieve a sustainable market growth in North East Asia
Co-Founder & Chief Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | + Articles

Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales. She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.