Hong Kong drives port collaboration to grow cruise capacity in Asia

Asian ports are seeking to rebuild and exceed historic cruise capacity. Jon Ingleton asks Kenneth Wong of Hong Kong Tourism Board how they aim to do this

Hong Kong drives port collaboration to grow cruise capacity in Asia

Hong Kong Tourism Board

By Jon Ingleton |

Hong Kong expects to receive calls from 28 cruise brands in 2024, marking a 55 per cent increase from the number that visited in 2023. According to Kenneth Wong, general manager of MICE and cruise at Hong Kong Tourism Board, this growth is a good sign that Asia’s cruise market is rebounding after the pandemic.

“We see a clear need for all our region’s ports to come together and say: ‘Asia is back’,” he says.

Cruising is growing again in the USA, Caribbean, Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, so now the time is right for the industry to focus on Asia again and give global passengers a full selection of itinerary choices, as well as the opportunity to enjoy new experiences on their next cruise.

“The attractiveness of our destinations and shore excursions continues to improve, the market potential is assured and the interaction between Asian ports is growing to ensure that ships deployed here have everything they need to succeed,” says Wong. “Our priority is to grow Hong Kong’s reputation as a first-rate homeport and as a compelling port call. We have put great emphasis on building regional connections to form a cooperative network of ports that can work together to help cruise lines build thoughtful itineraries with the variety that they need to fill ships.”

The tourism authority showcased this new approach at Seatrade Cruise Global in Miami in April, where it hosted collaborative activities with Xiamen, the Philippines and South Korea.

According to Wong there is stifled demand for cruise travel among Asia’s strong source markets and a requirement to bring more capacity into the region to fulfil this need.

“We believe that when the results of Royal Caribbean International homeporting in Shanghai are visible it will be a major driver for the introduction of more capacity,” he says. “The whole region and the wider cruise industry will benefit. Like other destinations in Asia, Hong Kong has become even more attractive to passengers in recent times because of the countless new attractions and shore excursions that have been developed.”

As an example, he references Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, where 40 hectares of reclaimed land has been developed into a leisure and recreation hub with 23 hectares of open space.

Successful cruise itineraries offer unique experiences through a good balance of marquee ports and lesser-known gems, collectively offering shore excursion variety and the full set of required technical facilities and services.

“Every port must work towards the same goals to make the itinerary successful because only profitable itineraries are repeated,” says Wong.

Hong Kong is ready to play its part.

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