A total of 3.1 million Asian travellers took a cruise in 2016, a rise of 55% from 2015, according to a new Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) report.
The 2017 Asia Cruise Trends report found that 68% of these 3.1 million passengers hailed from mainland China, a market which grew 99% in 2015, and at a four-year CAGR of 76%. This confirms China as the world’s fastest growing major passenger source market, making the country number two in the world in 2016. The US was the largest source market, while Germany and the UK were the third and fourth largest, respectively.
Further growth is expected in 2017, as 66 cruise ships will provide a total of 10,196 operating days in Asian waters, a 137% rise from 2013 and 25% increase from 2016. Five of these are mega ships with capacity for more than 3,500 passengers, 13 are large and able to accommodate 2,000 to 3,500 guests, 26 will be mid-sized ships and 17 will be small vessels that will sail seasonally in Asia. In addition, five expedition vessels will offer itineraries in limited seasons. This marks a 53% growth from 2013, when there were only 43 ships cruising in Asia.
The increased number of homeporting ships and operating days means that the Asian cruise industry will have capacity for 4.24 million cruise passengers in 2017 – more than triple 2013 and a significant rise from 2016.
Total sailings within Asia, and those passing through the region, have risen 142% over the past four years, up from 861 cruises in 2013 to 2,086 in 2017. In 2017, around 95% of these cruises will take guests to destinations within Asia, while an additional 94 voyages are scheduled to pass through the Asia region.
“While the Asian cruise market has grown tremendously within the past four years, it has the potential to capture a much larger percentage of the Asian population, which could catapult Asia’s capacity share ahead of competing markets,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO of CLIA.
Meanwhile, CLIA’s 2016 North Asia Economic Impact Study showed that the combined direct, indirect and induced contributions of the cruise industry in China, Japan and South Korea generated a total economic contribution of US$7.21 billion in output and US$3.23 billion in value-added goods and services. These figures were recorded during 3,312 cruise calls in the three countries, which saw a total of 7 million passengers and 1.2 million crew disembarking ships.
Asia’s cruise industry also supported 51,631 full- and part-time jobs. CLIA member cruise lines reported that they employed a total of 19,304 residents of North Asia as shoreside staff or onboard crew. Chinese employees accounted for 98% of this total (18,974 people).
“With these studies, CLIA aims to provide industry stakeholders with actionable, meaningful information to assist in structuring and supporting this emerging region,” said D’Aoust.