SINGAPORE – Singapore hopes to ride the wave of growth in the cruise industry with a new International Cruise Terminal which broke ground on Friday.
The facility at Marina South, costing S$500 million, comes as global demand for the cruise market is estimated to hit 27 million passengers by 2020 – a two-fold growth within a decade.
The cruise industry is still sailing smoothly despite the economic downturn. Global cruise passengers are expected to number 13.5 million this year, according to the Cruise Lines International Association based in the US.
Asia Pacific accounts for 7 per cent of the world’s cruise market and Singapore wants to become a cruise hub.
The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) expects to welcome its one millionth cruise passenger by year-end – the highest in 10 years. In the first half of this year, passenger arrivals grew 20 per cent on-year to 540,000.
At the groundbreaking of the International Cruise Terminal, Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang said: “Since the Singapore Cruise Centre at HarbourFront commenced operations in 1991, Singapore’s cruise passenger throughput has been rising steadily as evidenced by the average annual growth rate of 12 per cent in the last five years.
“In 2008, over 1,000 cruise ships called at Singapore, chalking up a passenger throughput of over 920,000.”
By 2015, Singapore hopes the new terminal can host the world’s largest Oasis-class cruise ships and attract 1.6 million cruise passengers. The terminal can handle 6,800 passengers at any one time and will double Singapore’s berth capacity.
STB says greater efficiency and accessibility will allow passengers to disembark and depart from the terminal within 30 minutes.
The 28,000-square-metre terminal, equivalent to about three football fields, is one of the biggest in Asia. Reclamation work will start next month and when completed in 2011, it is expected to create 3,000 jobs in the tourism and related industries.
Observers said cruise passengers tend to spend about 30 per cent more on average, which could boost Singapore’s economy.
Remy Choo, STB’s deputy director of cruise, said: “Typically, you talk about cruise of about 7 days on a normal cruise ship. We are talking about someone who is prepared to spend about S$2,000 per head, compared to a normal tourist from the region who spends perhaps S$300, S$400 a head. So you are looking at customers who are prepared to spend even more.”
The tourism board, which owns the terminal, will appoint an operator for the facility by year-end.