The Malaysian Government is to develop three ports – Kota Kinabalu, Kuching and Labuan – in a bid to lure major cruise lines to base ships in the country.
Presently, Singapore has attracted the major lines to base ships in the city state.
The three ports, KK in Sabah, Kuching in Sarawak and Labuan on the Malaya Peninsula of Borneo, will drive more international cruise lines to call at Malaysia, said Datuk Seri Saripuddin Kasim, secretary-general of the transport ministry.
He said the cruise industry has been identified as a “key driver of future economic growth’’, which has already seen a sharp increase in the number of international and domestic cruise visitors to the country.
Most cruise lines visiting Malaysia call at Port Klang, Malacca and Penang. The government is already developing the Malacca Gateway project with a US$10 billion investment from China. The project will be completed by 2025.
The Port of Klang Authority chairman Tan Sri Kong Chu Ha said: “Ideally, we would like to see a major cruise company like Royal Caribbean collaborating with the Malacca government to develop Malacca terminal as its regional hub.’’
He added that “at the moment” most cruise ships preferred to berth in Singapore.
The number of international cruise passengers to Malaysia increased by 23,167 to reach 88,989 last year, while domestic cruise passengers rose by 14,533 to 73,691.
In the past six months Malaysia has welcomed 35,869 people aboard international ships, and 29,483 on domestic ships.