What travel agents should do about our record 4.24 million cruise passengers

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Asia has seen double digit growth in passenger numbers, according to the latest CLIA report. The report also reveals that a record breaking 4.24 million cruisers sailed in Asia last year, a 4.6% increase from last year.

Major source markets like Singapore and India upheld their double-digit growth and emerging markets like Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam also saw double-digit growth in passenger volume.

The number of passengers cruising out of the Philippines and Vietnam has also doubled in 2018 to reach 61,400 and 10,000 respectively.

All of which means travel agencies should be upgrading their skills and knowledge on this profitable form of travel.

Asian cruise passengers predominantly sail in Asia, with Chinese markets contributing the most cruise passengers (55.8%), followed by Taiwan (9.3%), Singapore (8.8%), Japan (6.3%), Hong Kong (5.9%), India (5.2%) and Malaysia (9.3%).

Shorter sailings remain the dominant choice of Asians, 89% of whom are sailing 4-6 nights with an average duration of 4.9 days, with Singaporean cruisers sailing the shortest itineraries of 2.5 days on average.

But presenting overseas options to the increasing intrepid ASEAN traveller will pay dividends. There is more margin, and such trips include air and ground accomodation. And the possibility of pre and post stays.

“Asian cruise passengers are found across the age spectrum, suggesting different consumer segments interested in a cruise holiday and providing numerous possibilities for industry partners to develop the cruise penetration rate in this region,” said Mr Joel Katz, Managing Director for CLIA Australasia & Asia.

Indian cruisers are among the youngest, with a 37-year average, below the Asian average of 45-years.

Indonesia also shows an emerging family segment with an increase of teenage cruisers (13-19 years), bring the average age to a record low of 39-years.

Japan continues to have the oldest cruisers in Asia, with an average age of 57, beyond the global average of 47-years.

The Japanese are more inclined to take longer cruises with an average of 6.9 days in duration. They also cruise to a much higher degree in other parts of the world with a sizeable 11.2% visiting the Mediterranean.

Cruising in Asia is expected to continue growing in popularity with the arrival of new ships in 2019/2020 including from Costa Cruises, Genting Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International and MSC Cruises.

Several Asian destinations are also building new infrastructure to support cruise development, states the report.

Agencies should look to ensure their staff become expert in cruise product, either tasking CLIA training programs or others. And then develop ways to educate their clients on the many opportunities that are available.