SINGAPORE – Cruising is making a rebound in Asia/Pacific and cruise operators are anticipating a pick-up in demand.
Andrew Poulton, director of strategic marketing at Radisson Seven Seas, said, “Asia as a cruise destination is definitely on the rebound following the SARS scare of two years ago.”
He added that the response to the Asia/Pacific segments of Radisson’s Seven Seas Voyagers has been “phenomenal – the ship sold out”.
Another luxury cruise operator, Silversea Cruises is also expecting more Asians to take to cruising. According to Aris Zarpanely, executive VP sales, UK, Asia/Pacific and emerging markets, Silversea Cruises ended last year on a positive note. “For Silversea, 2004 was a great year and we finished extremely well,” he said.
The traffic out of Asia/Pacific accounts for 10 percent of Silversea’s bookings. The cruise operator expects this figure to rise to 12 percent by 2005.
In response to the rising demand, Silversea is setting up a regional sales office in Singapore within three months. Previously it had appointed a GSA.
Zarpanely also said that markets such as India is showing a lot of potential and that it was “ready for relaxing luxury cruises”.
Both cruise operators identified Singapore and Hong Kong as a cruise hubs like Miami due to their sophisticated infrastructure, air connectivity and political stability.
Statistics compiled by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) indicate that cruising is making a significant recovery after the SARS endemic of 2003.
In 2004, Singapore received 634, 585 passengers, which is 23 percent above 2003 and marginally below that of 2002.
While the STB works closely with Star Cruises to promote cruise tourism in overseas markets, Chang Chee Pev, director for sightseeing and cruise said “there is still room for other cruise products here.”
“We are working closely with our industry partners to intensify our efforts to ensure a range of diverse and compelling cruise products here.”
The advent of low-cost carriers in Asia/Pacific is also fueling the demand for cruises.