Annie Chang, Cruise Director at the Singapore Tourism Board chats to ASEAN Cruise News about the country’s push to growth the cruise industry.
- How did the brand come about and what does it show?
The brand represents the cultural diversity within Southeast Asia, and our region’s commitment towards jointly harnessing the growth potential of this industry.
The idea for a regional cruise brand was proposed by Singapore in its role as the ASEAN lead co-ordinator for cruise development, and was warmly supported by the other ASEAN member states. Collectively, we recognise that cruise tourism taps on the appeal of multiple destinations, and Southeast Asia has the right conditions for a cruising playground – calm waters, warm hospitality and the perfect harmony of history and modernity. The essence of these are captured in the new brand.
The brand can help entrench Southeast Asia in the minds of both consumers and industry stakeholders, and raise interest in cruising as an ideal way to discover our region.
- Where will we see it being used?
The brand was most recently showcased in March this year, when ASEAN came together again at the Seatrade Cruise Global conference and tradeshow in Fort Lauderdale, USA.
The brand will also be on ASEAN collaterals which individual ASEAN states will use in promoting their cruise industry.
- Tell us what you are most excited about in the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan?
Cruise tourism is an important aspect of the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP). It encapsulates the objectives of the ATSP by promoting multiple destinations within the region.
We are looking forward to collaborating with the relevant authorities and industry stakeholders to not only develop and enhance cruise-related infrastructure, but also promote sea and river cruise products.
- Singapore is tasked to take a leading role. Can you tell us what STB will be doing?
As ASEAN’s lead coordinator for cruise development, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) works closely with our fellow ASEAN colleagues to drive cruise developments in the region and lead joint efforts to promote Southeast Asia as an attractive cruising region. Aside from the launch of the inaugural Cruise Southeast Asia brand, we will also be releasing an ASEAN cruise tourism map, which will serve as a one-stop informative guide on the region’s cruise infrastructure (ports/facilities) and attractions for cruise lines and the travel trade.
- The brand will be launched at the Seatrade Cruise Global conference and tradeshow – how is the ASEAN region attracting global cruisers? Where are our strongest markets?
Cruise tourism is still a nascent travel product in Southeast Asia and consumer awareness is thus still growing. Key to our efforts to get more Southeast Asians to cruise are travel agents.
Travel agents play an important role in recommending the correct cruise products to Southeast Asian consumers who may be unfamiliar with cruising. We will continue working closely with partners like CLIA Southeast Asia to strengthen travel agents’ product knowledge and selling capabilities across the region.
In addition, we are reaching out to cruise operators and other relevant industry stakeholders. At the recent Seatrade Cruise Global (SCG) conference and tradeshow in March this year, ASEAN member states created a unified Southeast Asia presence by co-locating their booths together and hosting a lunch reception showcasing the authenticity of Southeast Asia.
ASEAN was also the sponsor of SCG’s State of the Industry – Asia/Australasia conference session, where an ASEAN cruise representative shared the latest efforts taken to grow cruise in Southeast Asia.
Outside the SCG, an ASEAN delegation conducted a joint presentation on Southeast Asia to the Travel Industry Association of Florida (TIA Florida). This was a step towards enabling TIA Florida’s members to not only better sell Southeast Asian travel products, including cruise packages, but potentially create new travel itineraries.
STB’s regional offices have also undertaken marketing efforts to entice consumers to consider cruising as a refreshing way to explore Southeast Asia.
- Is there enough support from the cruise industry and cruise lines for these regional campaigns?
There is a growing presence of international cruise lines in the region, with TUI Cruises being the latest to be here. Most of these cruise lines have also been involved in various marketing initiatives, which is a strong indication of their support for cruise industry developments in Southeast Asia.
 In its annual State of the Industry report released earlier this year, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) found that approximately 70 per cent of cruise vacations are sold through travel agents, who earn up to 10 per cent commission per sale according to a study by the ASEAN Cruise News, a monthly publication co-funded by ASEAN.
 In the Asia Cruise Trends (2014 edition) report released by CLIA Southeast Asia, Asia was projected to have the greatest gain in share of global capacity deployment (2.4 percentage points) among all regions between 2013 and 2015. The number of ships deployed in Asia grew at a 10 per cent compound annual rate. The volume of cruises and voyages 11 per cent increase in the volume of cruises of voyages.