With reference to Tom Holland's Monitor column ('New Kai Tak terminal cruising towards losses', May 13), I would like to clarify some of the figures quoted regarding cruise passenger spending.
The HK$57 million spending by cruise passengers in the Hong Kong Tourism Board's statistics refers to the spending by cruise-in/cruise-out passengers only.
These passengers arrive in and depart from Hong Kong aboard the same cruise vessels, that is, they are port-of-call passengers who normally stay in Hong Kong for a day or so.
In 2008, the total throughput of cruise-in/cruise-out passengers was 53,504.
Taken in this light, the 'HK$73 per head' spending as set out in the article for cruise passengers is incorrect.
The figure 780,000 as cited in the column was the total cruise visitor throughput in 2008.
Many cruise visitors stay longer in Hong Kong during a pre-cruise/post-cruise journey.
According to the methodology recommended by the World Tourism Organisation, the expenditure of these cruise visitors is included in the overall tourist spending and a separate breakdown is not available.
According to our economic analysis, with the availability of the new cruise terminal facilities and appropriate market strategies, the economic benefits to be brought by the cruise industry are estimated to range from HK$1.5 billion to HK$2.6 billion per annum by 2023 under different growth scenarios.
Industries such as the retail sector, food and beverage, travel agents and hotels would benefit, with up to 8,900 jobs created per year.
The government is committed to developing Hong Kong into a leading regional cruise hub, and our target is to attract cruise vessels to home port/turnaround in Hong Kong.
In 2010, international cruise lines including Costa Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, Seabourn Cruises and Star Cruises are having home port/seasonal home port operations in Hong Kong.
Premium cruise vessels such as Queen Mary 2 and Diamond Princess also called on Hong Kong regularly.
The development of cruise terminals in the region demonstrates the huge potential in the Asia-Pacific cruise market and Hong Kong, with a deep-water harbour, world-class tourism infrastructure and experienced tourism trade, is well positioned to take on a premier position in this growth market.
I hope the above will clarify the matter and give a clearer picture on the development of cruise tourism in Hong Kong.
Clement Lau, assistant commissioner for tourism