Hong Kong and Taiwan Partners to Develop the World’s First “Asia Cruise Fund”

By Ismary Munet

On March 11, the world’s first “Asia Cruise Fund,” which helps Asian ports develop cruise tourism, was announced at Cruise Shipping Miami 2014.

Cruise Shipping Miami is the leading international exhibition and conference serving the cruise industry, and has done so for the last 30 years. At the conference, the Special Administrative Region (SAR) Government, the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), and the Taiwan Tourism Bureau (TTB) made the announcement for the fund’s three year plan, which seeks to promote the Asian cruise industry.

According to Tourism Bureau Deputy Director-General Wayne Liu, the fund seeks to target an increasing number of tourists from Asian countries, particularly those of Chinese descent, and also attract high-end tourists from Europe and North America.

The HKTB and the TTB initiated the fund, and announced that it will first launch on April 1. The fund consists of contributions made by the participating ports, and will also be used to subsidize cruise companies, so that they can develop and market their products. As part of the fund, cruise lines are required to deploy their vessels to at least two participating ports or territories in a single plan of course.

HKTB Executive Director Mr. Anthony Lau said, “The launch of the fund marks a significant step towards regional cruise co-operation, which is vital if the industry is to successfully tap the potential created by the growing population of Asia’s middle class and booming outbound travel over the next decade. We believe the fund will show our dedication and commitment to cruise tourism development and reinforce cruise operators’ confidence in deploying more ships to Asia, benefiting not only the participating ports but also cruise lines and other industry stakeholders.”

Last year, Taiwan and Hong Kong succeeded in bringing the Mariner of the Sea, which was a cruise ship that carried over 6,000 tourists to Taiwan.

According to a recent report by the United Nations Development Program, by 2030, around two-thirds of the world’s middle-class population will be based in Asia. This shift in population dynamics gives cruise companies new and increased opportunities.

The TTB Deputy Director-General Dr. Wayne Liu also stated that the fund will collaborate to encourage other Asian ports to join, and this will help expedite the region’s cruise market development, as well as, enhance the region’s appeal for cruise passengers.

According to Mr. Philip Yung, Commissioner for Tourism of the Hong Kong SAR Government, due to its geographic advantage and current infrastructure, Hong Kong has already proven that it can be Asia’s cruise hub. He also mentioned that the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge should be completed in the next few years, which will improve connecting and travelling from Hong Kong to Southern China.

The 30th annual Cruise Shipping Miami conference and exhibition opens on March 10 at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The show runs through Thursday, March 13. For more information about Cruise Shipping Miami, please visit: www.cruiseshippingmiami.com

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