Second annual Cruise Shipping Asia-Pacific conference opens in Singapore with State of Asia Cruise Industry panel discussions.
Gianni Onorato, president of Costa Crociere, noted that port infrastructure in Asia is still lacking, along with consumer education.
"The major issue here is to explain what cruising is to the customers," said Onorato. "The second challenge is how to offer destinations and itineraries that can be reached in a competitive way cost-wise. We have a number of major homeports in the region, but they need other ports of call that are able to accommodate ships. Today, this is not the case and one of the major obstacles to growth. The main homeports should assist the other ports."
Onorato noted that since 2006, Costa has invested tens of millions of euros in China in distribution and advertising. The Italian brand has two ships in the region, having upped passenger capacity and tonnage steadily since entering the market. "It is the customers driving the demand. We can help, but it is the customer," he added.
Furthermore, Onorato said Asia was the most expensive places in the world for fuel costs, due to the long distances between ports. "As this market becomes profitable, there will be new ships, either coming from Europe or North America, or newbuilds," he added.
Kevin Leong, general manager of the Asia Cruise Association, said that the industry in Asia was at a turning point. "Cruise lines want to bring in ships, but there are not enough ports of call," he explained. "It is ongoing work and will take some time to make it happen. There is a sense of urgency to create more facilities."
Cruise Shipping Asia-Pacific, organized by UBM, continues Tuesday, Sept. 18, with conference sessions and trade show.