ASEAN members to develop Southeast Asia's cruise industry

ASEAN members to develop Southeast Asia's cruise industry
Singapore has already experienced a rise in cruise tourism (Image: Singapore Tourism Board)

Tourism ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed plans to improve the region’s cruise policies and regulations, streamline administration processes and make business practices fairer and more responsible.

Officially endorsed at the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2018 in Thailand on 26 January, the joint ASEAN Declaration on Cruise Tourism is part of the region’s ongoing efforts to transform Southeast Asia into a ‘vibrant’ cruising destination.

As part of the agreement, ASEAN members will commit to providing port users with clear, understandable and easy-to-access information about fees, berthing guidelines and immigration procedures. They will also consistently apply their respective national laws, regulations and policies across all points of entry into their territory, while ensuring they apply fair business practices to visitors, guests, employees, vendors, contractors, agents, business partners, the local society and the global community.

In addition, the ASEAN nations will share best practices and partner with cruise operators to better understand their port infrastructure and technical requirements, and to increase travel trade capabilities.

The efforts were led by Singapore.

“Singapore is proud to announce that the ASEAN states’ collective efforts to develop the ASEAN Declaration for Cruise Tourism have borne fruit,” said Sim Ann, Singapore’s Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry. “This builds on our previous work such as the inaugural ATF Cruise Dialogue last year and the launch of the Cruise Southeast Asia brand in 2016. It also marks the first major economic deliverable undertaken by Singapore since we assumed the ASEAN chairmanship for 2018. This will deepen regional connectivity and position ASEAN as a region for seamless economic activity and growing opportunities.”

A rise in cruise tourism is expected to spur further advancements in port and destination infrastructure, increase Asia-based ship deployments and spin off benefits for local tourism industries and stakeholders across the region. Predictions suggest that the region could potentially welcome up to 4.5 million passengers by 2035, a ten-fold increase from 2016.

“The future of cruise tourism for both Singapore and the Southeast Asia region is bright, with strong potential for growth,” said Lionel Yeo, STB chief executive. “Cruise development needs to be a concerted regional effort and Singapore will continue to actively engage with our ASEAN counterparts to encourage regional cruise development, and jointly promote Southeast Asia as a cruising playground for the world.”

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