Cruise tours may become a new growth driver for Taiwan’s tourism sector as well as an extra tool to export more of its services, cruise tour organizer Royal Caribbean Cruises said yesterday.
The comments came after Globalports Pte Ltd, a Singapore-based international seaport developer and investment company, announced last week it would hold an Asia cruise forum next year in an effort to boost the cruise industry in the region by developing an Asian version of the French Riviera Cruise Club.
The company planned to introduce a set of comprehensive and collective training and accreditation frameworks for tourism operators and their auxiliary supporters in Asia for club members.
US-based Royal Caribbean, one of the world’s largest cruise line operators, shared Globalports’ views.
“Taiwan could become a rising star in the cruise tour market because of its favorable geographic location,” Teresa Lu (呂麗齡), president of Royal Caribbean Cruises in Taiwan, told the Taipei Times.
The number of Asian cruise passengers is expected to grow to 11 million by 2030, from the current 1.5 million passengers, the operator said.
By then, Asian passengers would make up 30 percent of the world’s cruise passengers, up from 8 percent now, it said.
Because of the huge potential for growth, Royal Caribbean Cruises will expand its services to Asia this year. To promote its cruise tour services, the company’s 140,000-tonne Voyager of the Seas ship made its first stop in Taiwan last month.
The ship was fully loaded with 3,000 passengers during its maiden voyage to Asia and brought a total of 5,000 tourists to Taiwan with the two stops it made at Keelung Port on Aug. 31 and Sept. 5.
Cruise ship passengers are expected to spend NT$1,000 and NT$1500 daily per person during their stay in Taiwan, the operator estimated. That would boost the service sector by more than NT$5 million (US$170,000), the operator forecast.
Although the cruise operator’s service in Taiwan was temporary, Lu said the results indicated the nation’s potential to the industry.
Taiwan lags behind in port infrastructure construction and software buildup, compared with ports in Singapore and China’s Shanghai and Tianjin, Lu said.
Lu said the government should accelerate the pace of the construction to benefit from the fast-growing demand in the cruise market.
In addition, relaxing laws on foreign ships traveling across the Taiwan Strait would also help speed up the industry’s development in Taiwan, Lu said.
Globalports executive director Henry Teh said last week that two Asian countries have shown interest in the company’s ideas, but did not disclose which ones.
Globalports said Taiwan is on its list to promote cruise tour tourism in Asia.