ASEAN floats ambitious plan to boost cruise tourism

By VnExpress   January 22, 2017 | 03:10 am PT
The region expects to receive 4.5 million cruise visitors in 2035, jumping 10 times from last year.

Members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are looking to develop cruise tourism, aiming to welcome 4.5 million cruise visitors by 2035.

The target is 10 times higher than the 450,000 cruise tourism visitors the region received in 2016, regional media reports have shown.

"The industry assessment is that Southeast Asia has significant potential to grow and become a substantial region for the cruise industry," Singapore's Minister of Trade and Industry S. Iswaran said at an ASEAN tourism forum, as quoted by The Straits Times on January 20.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also told the forum the region is well placed to promote cruise tourism, according to a report from the Singapore-based Channel NewsAsia on January 18.

Countries in the region have archipelagos to compete with the Aegean, Caribbean and the South Pacific, along with year-round tropical weather, calm waters, diverse and attractive destinations within short sailing distances, the prime minister said.

In 2014, the cruise industry contributed $1.6 billion in direct expenditure and created about 34,000 jobs for countries in the region, said Iswaran.

The minister added that Singapore has worked as ASEAN's lead coordinator for cruise development. Meanwhile, Indonesia is giving priority on infrastructure development in five ports, and the Philippines has implemented a national cruise development strategy, according to The Strait Times.

Deputy General Director of the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism Ha Van Sieu told the forum that Vietnam has outlined a plan to expand investment and complete deep-water seaports to receive large ships that carry up to 3,000 passengers, the Vietnam News Agency said in a report on Saturday.

ASEAN should develop ports to receive bigger ships and work with cruise liners to create attractive itineraries for tourists, the Singaporean PM added.

The Southeast Asian bloc received an estimated 116 million international visitors in 2016, a 6.5 percent increase from 2015. Intra-ASEAN travel accounted for 43 percent of total international travel. 

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