Sarina Bratton, chair of Asia Pacific at Ponant, posed this opening question as moderator of the Asia Pacific panel at Seatrade Cruise Global on Wednesday.
She reminded the packed audience some key facts of APAC, namely: It is the fourth largest deployment market; it collectively represents 5.5m passengers, ‘nearly as much as the mature markets of Europe’; and it is a region that contains the world’s largest single source market (China), a nation with the highest penetration rate (Australia) and a large potential for untapped English-speaking source markets.
Focusing on Southeast Asia source markets and starting with China, Bratton asked Madam Wang Hong, party secretary general, Shanghai Municipal People’s Government, Baoshan District, to provide an update on latest developments in China, a reduction in berths led to a year of readjustment.
‘We are entering a new phase in China’s cruise development of quality growth,’ she said, adding that channel congestion in the approach to Shanghai has now been resolved with mega cruise ships getting priority for access in the busy Yangtze estuary.
Lines increase direct sales
Wang also highlighted the growth in cruise line direct sales to consumers due to easier business licensing laws with Royal Caribbean selling 30% of its business in China direct. Costa and MSC are doing the same, she added.
Deanna Austin, chief commercial officer, Princess Cruises, said whilst Japan has been a success story for Princess with local sourced passengers seeking international experiences mixed with closer to home experiences, there are huge opportunities in each of the regions within Asia.
Annie Chang, director cruise development, Singapore Tourism Board, said a lot of Singapore’s success as a hub port for Southeast Asia comes from active support for the STB’s 20 offices worldwide in promoting cruising in the region.
Indian market on the upswing
'The elephant is rising,' Sanjay Bhatia, chairman, Mumbai Port Trust, told the audience that with the Indian source market expected to increase significantly this and next year with Costa’s continuing homeporting and the addition of two domestic cruise lines.
Mumbai is expecting 338 calls in 2018/19, rising to 578 in 2019/20. Bhatia anticipates 578,000 passengers will pass through the port in 2019/20.