By 2015, Asia’s cruise industry may net a buoyant catch of seven million passengers a year, three times the number previously forecast.
This growth wave was mentioned by Mr Soo Kok Leng, chairman of the Singapore Cruise Centre which hosted the first Asia Cruise Terminal Association meeting on Monday .
Formed in June, it acts as a forum for members to cooperate to raise standards. Nine of its 12 members, from places like China, South Korea, Japan, the Philippines and Taiwan, attended the one-day meeting at Amara Hotel.
In his opening speech, Mr Soo said a forecast of two million cruise passengers in the Asia-Pacific region by 2015 – published in 2005 by Ocean Shipping Consultants based in Britain – was ‘too conservative’.
‘It underestimated the economic growth in Asia and the pace at which the region’s middle class is growing,’ he added.
Six to seven million passengers would be more accurate, assuming that only a tenth of the population in the region reaches middle class by 2015, and cruising penetration rates reach 3.2 per cent, he said.