Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Gregory So
Last Saturday, Queen Mary 2 and Seabourn Sojourn berthed at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal simultaneously; and on Sunday, the terminal received Genting Dream and Costa Victoria in the morning, and MSC Lirica together with Hapag-Lloyd Europa 2 in the afternoon. It was the first time ever that four cruise vessels berthed at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal during different time of the same day. The Ocean Terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui was also busy with welcoming two international cruise vessels, namely Hapag-Lloyd Europa and Crystal Symphony at the same time. Only at one weekend, these eight cruise vessels brought a total of over 10,000 cruise visitors to Hong Kong. The cruise vessels were from multiple international cruise brands, with itineraries covering homeporting and transit calls at Hong Kong, and with both long and short durations. These illustrate clearly the diversified cruise tourism market in Hong Kong.
The Kai Tak Cruise Terminal has gained considerable experience in receiving mega-sized cruise vessels. With the concerted efforts of the Tourism Commission, relevant Government departments and the terminal operator through discussing the arrangements and preparing suitable operational plans, the overall operation and transport arrangements were smooth and orderly even under the exceptional scenarios of having four cruise vessels at berth within the same day. This demonstrates the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal’s capability of and capacity to receiving and handling mega-sized cruise ships in order to support the rapid development of cruise tourism in Hong Kong.
Queen Mary 2 will return for its second visit of the year and berth at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal on April 1, bringing more than 2,000 cruise visitors to Hong Kong, the majority are overseas “fly-cruise” visitors i.e. visitors taking flights to Hong Kong to join cruise journeys; or ending their cruise journeys at Hong Kong and then take flights back home. The cruise line said that the number of their “fly-cruise” visitors with cruise journeys starting at Hong Kong increased by 30% last year. Most of these visitors would stay for a few days in Hong Kong for sightseeing and shopping prior to their cruise journeys, bringing economic benefits to Hong Kong.
In fact, one of our strategic directions for cruise tourism development in Hong Kong is to cultivate more diversified source markets through promoting “fly-cruise” tour. The Government has allocated an additional funding of $10 million in the Budget last year to cooperate with cruise lines or travel agents, on a matching basis, for the promotion of “fly-cruise” tour through the Hong Kong Tourism Board. The programme aims to encourage more overseas visitors to take flights to Hong Kong for joining cruise journeys, and to stay overnight in Hong Kong before or after their cruise journeys. This can increase their length of stay and spending in Hong Kong, thereby benefiting the hotels, the attractions, retail as well as other related industries. The programme receives positive feedback and is well-received by the trade.
The Government is committed to promoting the further development of cruise tourism. We will refine our strategic directions for cruise tourism development and launch corresponding initiatives from time to time so as to attract more cruise vessels and cruise passengers to Hong Kong. The specific initiatives for 2017 include: (i) to continue with “fly-cruise” tour promotion to cultivate the Southeast Asia and long haul source markets; (ii) to introduce a shore excursion products scheme for cruise passengers, so as to encourage travel agents and the travel trade to design shore excursion itineraries with more local features, and to encourage more cruise passengers to visit Hong Kong, extend their length of stay, increase their spending and enhance the attractiveness of Hong Kong as a cruise destination; and (iii) to strengthen the promotion at the Southern China market for increasing the penetration of cruise tourism in Hong Kong thereat. The above measures aim at expanding the source markets for cruise tourism in Hong Kong and to benefits different sectors of the trade, so as to bring greater overall economic benefits to Hong Kong. The Government will increase the resources allocated to HKTB in taking forward the above initiatives.
With the concerted efforts of stakeholders concerned, the cruise tourism in Hong Kong has been growing steadily over the past few years. The overall number of ship calls in Hong Kong increased by 115%, from 89 in 2013 to 191 in 2016. Moreover, the overall cruise passenger throughput (arrivals and departures) increased by 254%, from around 190,000 in 2013 to around 677,000 in 2016. We expect that in 2017, both the number of ship calls and passenger throughput will continue to record growth, and amongst which, the number of ship calls at KTCT is expected to go up further to around 200.
We see immense potential in developing cruise tourism in Hong Kong. We will continue to keep abreast of the latest development of cruise tourism internationally and within the region. We will also evaluate the strategic development directions for cruise tourism periodically and to launch suitable measures, with a view to developing Hong Kong into the leading regional cruise hub.
This article by Secretary for Commerce & Economic Development Gregory So was published on March 25.