Hong Kong will work with Singapore to draw cruise lines to Asia, including promoting cruise tourism and coming up with new itineraries tailored for the Asian consumer, said organisers of a forum that ended yesterday.
The two cities, often seen as rivals, were more in fact more like allies, said Tourism Board executive director Anthony Lau Chun-hon. Both have to devote a lot of time and resources to develop cruise tourism, a relatively new concept in the region, he said.
The board was hosting a four-day forum at Tsim Sha Tsui's Hotel Icon that was attended by about 200 senior executives of cruise lines, port operators in different cities and local tourism operators.
"Hong Kong and Singapore need to work together to bargain for cruise vessels to come to Asia instead of staying in Europe or America, and we can co-operate over training of expertise and promotions," said Lau.
His comments came after figures showed that Singapore's Marina Bay Cruise Centre, which opened in October, would handle 89 dockings from June to April next year, compared to just 16 bookings in the same period for Hong Kong's Kai Tak cruise terminal, which will open in June.
One idea from the forum - a five- to six-day cruise from Hong Kong to Taiwan and Okinawa in Japan - was welcomed by operators. But Lau said cruise lines would need at least 18 months to adjust their itineraries and to make that a reality.
Christopher Hayman, chairman of the Seatrade cruise research centre which organised the forum, said cruise tourism brought long-term benefits.
Surveys conducted in the Mediterranean showed that after passengers visited a city on a cruise, many would return by land, he said.
While the South China Morning Post has estimated that the 37,000 passengers set to arrive in the city on the 16 cruise vessels could spend HK$100 million here, Hayman said the actual economic benefits brought by cruise tourism could be greater.