Asia’s cruise industry experts outline the potential and pitfalls

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Cruise industry’s heads were in Busan, South Korea,  this week to talk about the potential  – and the pitfalls – of the industry.

Dr Zinan Liu, president of North APAC & China for Royal Caribbean as well as the chairman of CLIA North Asia, said the organisation found that Asia is the fastest growing area in the global cruise market.

In 2015, over 2 million passengers had booked a cruise compared to the 1.6 million in 2014 – representing a 23.5% year-on-year increase.

Dr Liu said the cruise industry has grown 68% over the last decade.

But Dr Liu said there is still a long way to go to develop the industry saying that Asia is not an easy cruise market.

Drawing on his experience in China, he said the issues were not a lack of demand but pricing and distribution.

President of Costa Group Asia, Buhdy Bok, emphasised the need for better port infrastructure, saying it impedes on the growth of the industry. Itineraries were not being maximised to their full potential.

He added that quality and the price of cruises was a major factor for Asian cruisers.

Thatcher Brown, the president of Dream Cruises, part of the Genting Group, said developing people’s understanding of the industry in order to deliver a different vacation experience was important.

Dr Liu also said he found Chinese passengers, overall, had a positive experience with Royal Caribbean’s shore excursions. But customers found that there was a lack of variety.

Some passengers found that itineraries were too shopping focused and Dr Liu has suggested to the cruise lines and travel agents that passengers need complete information around cruise itineraries.

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