Tourism Malaysia chairman Tan Sri Dr Ng Yen Yen believes that cruise tourism would be the new tourism for Asia in the 21st Century. She said the tourism linked the numerous ports in Asia which could be developed into a top Asian cruise tourism destination, providing billions of dollars to the economy and thousands of jobs. The cruise tourism industry was the fastest growing category in the leisure travel market today, and the cruise lines had increased the capacity to Asia significantly with 23 new vessel deliveries expected in 2014, she said.
The tourism had received a very good response from young Asian passengers and Asian families, she added. “The global cruise tourism is shifting from North America and Europe to Asia,” she said. Citing an example, she said that in 2013, a total of 21 international cruise liners had served Asia with 56 ships while 762 cruises generated a revenue of US$2 billion. “The Asia Cruise Association projects a potential Asian cruise (source market) of seven million in 2020, with a forecast growth of 30 per cent annually,” she told Malaysian journalists here after the opening ceremony of the Malaysia pavilion at Guangdong 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR) International Expo here, Friday.
Ng believed that Asia cruise tourism had all the necessary factors to make it a success as the region generally has year-round warm weather, diverse unique cultures, multiple UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) heritage sites, UNESCO geo parks, rich flora and fauna, pandas of China and orang utan of Malaysia, among others. She said Southeast Asia itself has more than 25,000 islands compared to the Caribbean which has about 7,000 islands, while Malaysia alone offered a total of seven ports including Port Klang, Langkawi Port, Penang Port, Melaka Port, Kota Kinabalu Port and Kuantan port.
Hence, she said with close cooperation among the region, especially China and Asean, MSR could be able to provide multiple and varied destinations for all tourists. “The development of the Asia MSR cruise will provide vast opportunities for economic cooperation, bilateral and multi-lateral investments in all countries involved,” she added. Apart from Malaysia’s Kuantan Port, which is currently being expanded into a deepwater port with a depth of 18 metres to accommodate vessels of up to 200,000 DWT (deadweight tonnes), other Asean Cruise Tourism-Country’s Ports Development include port of Sihanoukville in Cambodia, Tanah Ampo Cruise Terminal in Indonesia and Singapore’s Marina Bay Cruise Centre.
Also present at the expo were President of the Malay Businessmen and Industrialists Association of Malaysia (Perdasama) Datuk Moehamad Izat Emir; President of Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce (MCCC) Datuk Bong Hon Liong; and President of Malaysia-China Friendship Association Datuk Abdul Majid Ahmad Khan. Source Bernama for Cruise Tourism to be 21st Century Tourism for Asia.