IAG March 2016 - page 10

Cover Story
Association says volumes in the continent surged from 774,000
passengers in 2012 to 1.4 million in 2014, the last year for which
figures are available. And analysts say growth certainly continued
last year. For China the expansion has beenmore spectacular, from
217,000 cruise passengers in 2012 to 697,000 in 2014, making it
that year’s seventh largest global sourcemarket for cruising, CLSA’s
ChineseTourists2016 report states. Shanghai, SanyaonHainan, and
Tianjin outside Beijing are the top three domestic departure ports,
with South Korea, Japan andHong Kong the top three destinations,
the brokerage says.
“[T]he Chinese population is getting richer and aspirations are
rising formore adventurous and exotic locations, driven by growing
social media pressures,” CLSA Regional Head of Consumer and
Gaming Research Aaron Fischer and Marcus Liu write. “[W]e have
largely seen a continuation of the 2014 trend, withHong Kong and
Macau lagging and a surge in ‘cooler’ holiday destinations to brag
home about on social media.” The overall direction of Chinese
tourismworks in favor of cruises, which offer the independence and
choices of an individual excursionwith the comforts of a group tour,
particularly for shore excursions to “cooler” destinations such as
SouthKorea and JapanwhereChinese is not widely spoken.
Global giants have joined local leader Star Cruises (see sidebar)
in the regional market. Royal Caribbean claims to have the most
ships with home ports in China, three in the mainland with a
fourth coming and one in Hong Kong under its Royal Caribbean
International brand that also sails from Singapore. Additionally, its
Celebrity and upscale Azamara Club brand ships call into Asia. The
firstof the line’smost advancedvessels,Quantumof theSeas,witha
capacity of 4,150passengers, transferred itshomeport from theNew
York area to Shanghai last year. A second giant Quantum category
ship will homeport in Tianjin after its inaugural cruise next month.
Royal Caribbean carried400,000passengers from theChinamarket,
including Hong Kong, last year, registering 64% growth annually
since 2009, a company spokesperson tells
Then there is theworld’s largest leisure travel company Carnival
Cruises, which sails from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan
under its Princess and Costa brands. Princess will take delivery of a
newship forAsianext year. InaUSstockmarket filingaccompanying
2015 results, Carnival estimates 4 million annual Chinese cruisers
by 2020, noting, “The Chinese government has expressed a strong
desire to transform China into a leading global cruise region and is
making substantial investments in cruise-related infrastructure.”
Union Gaming Securities AsiaManaging Director Grant Govertsen
sees cruises as a strong contender for Chinese travel spending. “It
represents a new experience for mainlanders and therefore is likely
to be something they will want to try,” he says. “The fact that these
cruise shipshappen tohave a casino is icingon the cake.”TheCLSA
report findsnearly 15%of itssurveygrouphad takenacruise. Among
the cruisers, 80% say theywill consider taking another. (By contrast,
among visitors toMacau, only 8% say theywant to visit again in the
next three years.) About 70%of the survey group that haven’t tried a
cruisewould consider takingone.
Theoverall directionofChinese tourism
works in favorof cruises,whichoffer the
independenceand choicesofan individual
excursionwith the comfortsofagroup tour,
particularly for shoreexcursions to“cooler”
destinations suchasSouthKoreaandJapan
whereChinese isnotwidely spoken.
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