U.S. campaign to lure cruise line operators

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 March, 2012, 12:00am


Top executives from Worldwide Flight Services will fly from Hong Kong to Miami tomorrow to kick off a marketing and promotion campaign to lure cruise lines, operators and retailers to the Kai Tak cruise terminal.

The team from WFS and the government will promote Kai Tak at a four-day international cruise conference and exhibition in Miami after the Worldwide Cruise Terminals Consortium was awarded the operation and management contract for the terminal yesterday.

The group is led by WFS, which already provides passenger and airline-related services at Hong Kong International Airport, with a 60 per cent stake. Shun Tak Holdings subsidiary Neo Crown and Royal Caribbean Cruises, the world's second largest cruise line, each have a 20 per cent interest.

Barry Nassberg, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Worldwide Flight Services, said the cruise terminal 'will be an iconic structure closely identified visually with Hong Kong'. The 30,000 square metre three-storey terminal is being built at a cost of HK$5.6 billion, with the first berth due to become operational in mid-2013. The two-berth facility, which has been delayed by about 18 months, will be capable of handling mega-cruise ships of up to 220,000 gross tonnes.

Jeff Bent, WFS director for cruise projects, said that while cruise lines typically fix itineraries two years ahead it was 'not too late' for Hong Kong to be included in the 2013 and 2014 seasons.

Bent added the terminal 'could well become a tourist attraction in its own right', luring local people and visitors to the facility in the same way Chek Lap Kok airport did when it opened. Bent, who is visiting the Miami cruise show with Ron Taylor, WFS vice-president for Hong Kong and the Asia-Pacific, will also meet local representatives of global cruise companies to promote the terminal.

Bent said it was 'well suited for conventions and events' when passenger liners were not in port.

The terminal consortium won its contract against competition from another bidder thought to be a group led by Dragages Hong Kong, which is also a shareholder in AsiaWorld-Expo. A Tourism Commission spokeswoman said: 'The major selection criteria were the tenderers' experience in managing cruise terminals, plans for operating the terminal, plans for promoting the terminal as well as their proposed rents.'

Aside from managing and operating the terminal, the consortium will be responsible for arranging the berthing of cruise ships, the embarkation and disembarkation of passengers, traffic and security arrangements and its promotion.

The group will pay the government a fixed rent of HK$13 million for the 10-year concession plus a variable rent based upon a percentage of the gross receipts of between 7.3 and 34 per cent.

Analysts said that as a management contract, the terminal concession was unlikely to add significantly to Shun Tak's top or bottom line. They thought there was a possibility the new terminal could lure cruise ships away from the existing Ocean Terminal which may hurt operator The Wharf.


The customs hall of the new three-storey cruise terminal will be able to clear this many passengers in an hour