The fund, which will take effect on April 1st, 2014, and run for three years, will be made up of contributions from participating ports and used to subsidize cruise companies to develop and market their cruise products. A major requirement is that cruise lines must deploy vessels to at least two participating ports or territories in a single itinerary.
HKTB Executive Director Anthony Lau said, "The launch of the fund marks a significant step towards regional cruise co-operation, which is vital if the industry is to successfully tap the potential created by the growing population of Asia's middle class and booming outbound travel over the next decade. We believe the fund will show our dedication and commitment to cruise tourism development and reinforce cruise operators' confidence in deploying more ships to Asia, benefiting not only the participating ports but also cruise lines and other industry stakeholders."
The fund organizers explain that Asia holds huge potential for the cruise industry. By 2030, around two-thirds of the world's middle-class population will be based in Asia, according to a recent report by the United Nations Development Program. This shift in population dynamics will present cruise companies with new opportunities, as the growing Asian middle class seeks out new ways to spend its leisure time. In view of this trend, Asian ports have been working together to promote and develop the region's cruise tourism and to encourage international cruise lines to explore the rapidly expanding market.
Philip Yung, Commissioner for Tourism of the Hong Kong SAR Government, said, "Given our geographic advantage, and riding on our existing infrastructure, Hong Kong has already proven it has everything it takes to be the cruise hub of Asia. The Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, which are targeted for completion in the coming few years, will significantly improve the connectivity between Hong Kong and the Southern China. By working with neighboring ports in the region, we believe we can make Asia an opportunity too good to miss for international cruise companies – both as a destination and a rich source of potential passengers."
Dr. Wayne Liu, TTB Deputy Director-General, said, "We will collaborate to encourage more Asian ports to join the fund in order to accelerate the development of the region's cruise market and enhance the attractiveness of the region to cruise passengers."