The inaugural CruiseWorld Asia heard many speakers stress the importance of travel agents to the growth of the industry.
With 320 delegates –250 of them agents – attending the event earlier this month in Singapore, Dynasty Travel International’s director of public relations and marketing Alicia Seah told the conference: “With 80 to 90% of cruises in the region being sold by travel agents, I think this is a great opportunity for the travel trade to understand more about what cruising has to offer.”
She revealed cruise makes up eight per cent of her company’s revenue, so she said there was plenty of potential to grow.
Her words were echoed by Royanto Handaya, CEO of PT Panorama JTB Tours Indonesia, who urged cruise lines to consolidate their distribution system.
Michael Ungerer, Chief Operating Officer of Carnival Asia, urged all “stakeholders” to work together to make cruise “really take off”.
Royal Caribbean’s MD for Asia Pacific Sean Treacy pointed out that 99.9 per cent of holidays were still land based, making them the real competitors to cruising.
He pointed out that port development was vital to accommodate today’s mega ships, like Royal Caribbean’s Quantum and Oasis class vessels – the largest in the world.
“Governments are recognising this so we’re encouraged but the infrastructure isn’t there and it will slow down growth
“In the past, Asia was the destination for old tonnage but… now you’re seeing newer ships come into Asia so I think the industry sees the potential of the market but in South-east Asia, we’re going to run out of space to bring ships unless more ports are built soon.”
ASEAN countries are responding.
In Bali, dredging will make the port ready for Quantum class ships; in Thailand, a plan is under way to identify a location for a new port; immigration procedures are being streamlined and visa-free travel plans worked out.
Ms Seah gave the conference the thumbs up.
Her verdict:“The key note speakers and panel speakers were able to share invaluable insights which has benefited all the delegates with a greater understanding of the developments in Southeast Asia’s cruise industry and how to sell cruise vacations better.”
The conference theme was ‘The Future of Southeast Asia Cruise Tourism: It’s Not How to Sell, But What to Sell’. It was organised by Travel Weekly Asia.