Seatrade Asia Pacific Cruise Congress opened to much fanfare yesterday, representing the 12th cruise event that global organiser, Seatrade, has held in Asia.
The event was opened by Michael BAYLEY (President & Chief Executive Officer, Royal Caribbean International), Madam WANG Hong (Secretary General, CPC Baoshan District of Shanghai Municipal Committee), Dr Zinan LIU (President, China & North APAC, Royal Caribbean International and Chairman, CLIA North Asia) and Andrew WILLIAMS (General Manager, Seatrade and Group Director, UBM EMEA).
Addressing a packed out auditorium with representatives from over 20 countries, Seatrade General Manger Andrew Williams said, ‘We are delighted to be hosting our 12th cruise event in Asia and to be in Baoshan district of Shanghai for the first time.”
Following the welcome and keynote addresses was the opening conference session, covering ‘China as a source market’ – one of the key topics being discussed worldwide currently.
There was agreement in the opening session that China still holds vast potential to be the world’s largest cruise market, but it will not be without its challenges for the cruise lines.
Reaching the Chinese consumer is a challenge due to the difficulty of choosing the appropriate channel and way of marketing, as well as the advertising costs in such a big country, commented Dr Zinan LIU, President, China & North APAC, Royal Caribbean International.
‘You need to tell a good story, perhaps aided by a celebrity,’ LIU said, adding that repeated messages of good service or promises of an excellent experience are not unique to each cruise line, neither are they ‘catchy’ for customers.
The marketing efforts may have a good future, with leading Chinese banks backing China State Shipbuilding Corp. (CSSC) deal to build 133,500gt cruise ships. The fund currently stands at RMB300bn.
FAN Min, President and CEO of SkySea Cruises, suggested that even if only 1% of the fund is earmarked for marketing, it would go a long way.
Regardless of the marketing or distribution methods, David HERRERA, President, NCLH China, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, said the message has got to be that cruising is a great vacation. ‘The challenge we face is a lack of awareness about cruising in general,’ added Anthony KAUFMAN, EVP International Operations, Princess Cruises.
With Cruise Lines International Association forecasting the number of Chinese cruisers to balloon to 4.5million by 2020, from nearly 1million in 2015, ‘Everything in China is possible but nothing is easy’ said Helen HUANG, President, Greater China, MSC Cruises.
Seatrade Asia Pacific Cruise Congress continued today with discussions on Cruise ship construction, design, repair & technical services for the Chinese market; Technical & Regulatory Affairs and Port infrastructure, ship supply & crewing.