Keelung bids to be cruise liner mecca

CRUISE CONTROL::As the number of arrivals at Keelung Port soars, its operators are planning to remodel the facilities to deal with the traffic and make it a cruise ship hub

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Sep 25, 2013 - Page 4

The passenger volume at Keelung Port between January and last month grew by 18 percent compared with the same period last year, as the number of visitors arriving via non-regular cruise ship services posted a significant increase, Taiwan International Port Corp (TIPC) said yesterday.

Officials from the state-run company made the remarks aboard the Mariners of the Sea cruise ship, which arrived at the port yesterday morning. The ship was chartered by China’s Pro-Health International Group, which has been bringing its employees to Taiwan on incentive tours since the beginning of the month.

Yesterday was the ship’s third visit to the port this month. The ship has brought a total of 10,000 visitors to Keelung.

According to TIPC, the number of passengers arriving by boat to Keelung topped 380,000 in the first eight months of the year, representing annual growth of 18.14 percent.

About 50 percent of the 380,000 arrived on regular cruise ships, while approximately 23 percent arrived via non-regular cruises and 20 percent were passengers on regular domestic shipping services. Only about 6 percent were brought on cross-strait shipping services, the statistics showed.

The company forecast that the volume of arrivals at the port could reach 500,000 this year. Travelers on non-regular cruise ships may number 150,000 this year, which would signify annual growth of 200 percent.

TIPC said that since it wants to make Keelung a hub for cruise ships and since the port can no longer adequately accommodate the heavy traffic passing through it, a new shipping service center and office building are to be built starting in March next year. Construction of is scheduled to completed in 2015, with the cost set to top NT$6.2 billion (US$209.5 million).

The firm also plans to remodel the office building currently in use and expand the facility by 2016.