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Asia event highlights 'fastest emerging market'

Cruise Shipping Asia-Pacific 2013, to be held October 9-10 at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, is unique “as this is the only annual cruise event focused on the entire Pan-Asia region,” according to Jennifer Rosen, Head of Marketing, Cruise Portfolio, for the show’s organizers UBM. “The cruise lines told us this show is integral to the growth of the region and can open the door to those who are looking to get in on the ground floor and capitalize on that growth.”

Now in its third year, the event has been revamped with several new items on the agenda. “UBM and Seatrade Communications have partnered on this event to offer a much larger, more focused singular event only for the region, and will be bringing in the world’s leading industry voices as speakers on relevant topics for the market,” she adds. “These changes have also brought us additional cruise line participation from all over the globe, increasing the exposure for our exhibitors to those brands.”

Among the highlights of the event promises to be the introduction of the inaugural Rama Rebbapragada Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Cruise Industry in Asia. “Rama was a key player in the global cruise industry and a pioneer in opening the gateway to the Asia-Pacific cruise market. This award was established in his memory and will recognize someone who, like him, has played a significant role in developing the cruise industry in the region,” Rosen says. The award will be presented by Rama’s friend and colleague, President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises Michael Bayley.

Although overall numbers are not available, the Asia-Pacific cruise region is being called the industry’s fastest emerging market, which represents great opportunity for suppliers who choose to exhibit. “As passenger growth continues to increase—predictions say over 7 million by 2020—and brands continue to homeport ships there, the opportunity for regional shipbuilding, repair, refurbishment and design companies are skyrocketing,” Rosen points out. In fact, Australia alone will see a record 34 ships from CLIA Australasia-member lines sailing its waters from October 1, 2013, through April 30, 2014, according to that organization.

Attendees at this year’s event will hear not only about the region’s potential, but the issues it faces and reasons behind its remarkable growth. Among the challenges are the need for training and education. “Many more travel agents will need to be trained in cruise marketing, and we are making a major effort to provide CLIA-standard training for the first time in Asia at CSAP 2013,” says Kevin Leong, General Manager of the Asia Cruise Association. “The consumers will also need to be educated on the value of cruise tourism as an option to land-based tourism. Cruise lines are doing their bit and the association will garner more NTO members to join and collaborate with the cruise lines on consumer campaigns to meet this need.”

More development is needed on the product side too, he says. “Cruise destinations are still quite limited today in Asia, and most cruise lines offer similar itineraries. To give consumers more choices, we are working with regional governments to open more ports of call. The true attractiveness of Asia as a cruising region will not be realized until ships are able to go beyond the same ports they have been calling at for the past 20 years and more.”

On the other hand, major brands continue to dedicate tonnage to the region, drawing upon newly emerging source markets, Leong explains. “Growth comes from two drivers. First is the additional deployment of ships by the major players, especially Costa Cruises and Royal Caribbean International, both of which have announced the deployment of a second ship to be based in Asia. Additionally, Princess Cruises has homeported a ship in Japan and a second ship will be based in Singapore from 2014. Second is the development of Asian source markets.”

All this, taken together with other factors, is a recipe for future prosperity, he continues. “The deployment of newer, bigger ships to Asia from slower economic areas like Europe and the U.S. will drive the market, coupled with the relatively healthy economies and growing middle-class in source markets like China and India. Training of Asian travel agencies on marketing cruise holidays has intensified over the past year and more resources from CLIA Global for certification training in the near future will accelerate this growth in cruise tourism. The opening of new cruise terminals like the Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore and Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong and others in China may be the catalysts for further cruise infrastructure development in the rest of Asia. These will also be major contributing factors to the expected growth,” Leong concludes.

For more information about Cruise Shipping Asia-Pacific 2013 or to register for the event, log on to www.cruiseshippingasia.com.

By M.T. Schwartzman

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