More ships and locals are visiting Kai Tak Cruise Terminal

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 August, 2015, 12:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 August, 2015, 12:01am

I refer to Regina Ip's column ("A hulk of a misallocation", August 9).

The Kai Tak Cruise Terminal handled 100,866 itinerary cruise passengers in 2014, will handle around 220,000 in 2015, and about 350,000 in 2016. The sum total of itinerary cruise passengers at all facilities in Hong Kong combined in 2013 was 191,062. Most of this is incremental growth from having a terminal that can accommodate large cruise ships; the pie is getting bigger.

Cruise lines plan two to four years out. The number of cruise lines calling at Kai Tak has grown from eight in 2014 to nine in 2015 to 18 scheduled in 2016. Ship calls are scheduled every month of the year. In contrast, many cruise terminals are closed for half of the year.

Hong Kong is a good location for a cruise facility. Bad weather can inconvenience travellers anywhere, but cities to our north are considered cold for winter sailings, and cities to our south lack direct flights to North America, cruising's largest source market. Ports within a day's sail include Keelung, Kaohsiung, Taichung, Sanya, and Halong Bay. Hong Kong is a growing market, and has excellent connectivity to the rapidly developing mainland Chinese source market. Cruise companies are opening offices in Hong Kong, and deploying more ships here.

Around 80 per cent of ship calls at Kai Tak see passengers begin and end their journey here. Many passengers and crew fly in and out, stay in hotels, and stay additional days. Nearby shopping malls report that cruise passengers spend HK$2,000-HK$3,000 each. This single location spend compares favourably to the total 2014 average per diem spend of HK$2,414, or HK$2,431 for same-day and overnight visitors. Lines spend on provisioning, pilots, tugs, stevedores, ground handlers, coaches, tour operators, advertising, and commissions.

The Kai Tak Cruise Terminal has become a successful events venue, with many product launches, car shows, celebrity appearances, public events, weddings and corporate gatherings.

The vast majority of cruise terminals are closed when a ship is not at berth, and have no facilities for the public. Kai Tak Cruise Terminal is open 365 days per year, and an estimated 4,000 locals visit the terminal and its park, shops and restaurants daily on weekends and holidays.

Every project and site has its difficult aspects, but we are up to the challenge and will continue to prove the doubters wrong.

Jeff Bent, managing director, Worldwide Cruise Terminals