Tourism Bureau, Hong Kong team up to launch regional cruise travel fund

Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Mar 14, 2014 - Page 4

Tourism authorities from Taiwan and Hong Kong announced a joint program yesterday to promote cruise travel in the rapidly expanding Asian market. Through the world’s first “Asia Cruise Fund,” the Tourism Bureau and the Hong Kong Tourism Board hope to develop regional cruise tourism, Tourism Bureau Deputy Director-General Wayne Liu (劉喜臨) said during the Cruise Shipping Miami 2014 trade show.

Initiated by both sides, the fund — collected from ports in Asia — will subsidize promotions for regional cruise liners, Liu said.

“Taiwan and Hong Kong will invite more Asian countries and territories to take part in the project to improve our regional market competitiveness,” Liu said.

Anthony Lau (劉鎮漢), executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, said the fund is an important step toward regional cooperation in cruise tourism.

“The fund will be the key for cruise tourism to keep developing in the upcoming 10 years in Asia,” Lau said.

The fund, which launches on April 1 for a three-year period, requires cruise firms to stop in at least two participating ports or territories in a single itinerary to get the subsidy.

Last year, ports around Taiwan served 992,000 passengers, a rise of 41.8 percent from the previous year, according to statistics from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. The growth was linked to a 45.4 percent increase in the number of cruise travelers visiting Taiwanese ports, which totaled 390,000 last year, it said.

According to the bureau, Taiwan’s cruise market could grow by at least 50 percent this year. In addition to Asia, the bureau said it hopes to tap into markets in Europe and the Middle East.