As major cruise lines and vacationers from around the world continue to show growing interest in Asian itineraries, Taiwan has positioned itself to take advantage by improving terminal facilities and increasing marketing activities to the cruise industry and consumers, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) reports in a backgrounder on Asian cruising. Nine cruise line members of CLIA offer cruises from or to ports in Taiwan.
"There is every indication that the growth of Asia as a cruise market will be rapid and significant," said Michael Chang, director of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau, speaking at Cruise Shipping Miami. "Taiwan is ideally located to take advantage of this growth and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we can accommodate the world's major cruise ships. Of our four international ports, two are currently in the midst of major improvements and we are actively seeking new partners in the cruise industry."
The Asian cruise market is growing rapidly, with some experts predicting a 40 percent increase in Asian passengers, to more than 1.5 million this year, CLIA reports. At the center of the excitement is Taiwan, where, despite the global economic crisis, GDP in the fourth quarter of 2009 was growing at its highest pace in five and a half years - 18 percent - according to reports in The Wall Street Journal, with tourism playing a major role.
A huge increase in tourists from China in the fourth quarter - almost 300,000 - up 170 percent from last year, is one reason. Overall tourism arrivals in Taiwan were up over 22 percent. Sixty-two cruise calls were made at Taiwanese ports in 2009 and over seventy-five cruise calls are anticipated for 2010. Cruise arrivals in Keelung, the port for Taipei, Taiwan's capital, jumped from 59,000 to over 88,000 between 2008 and 2009.
The nine cruise line members of CLIA serving Taiwan, include Azamara Club Cruises, Costa Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Seabourn Cruise Line, and Silversea Cruises. Asian-based companies that feature Taiwan include Star Cruises and Sita Cruises.
Director General Li-Jay Tsao of the Taipei Economic & Cultural Office in Miami is present at Cruise Shipping Miami this year to welcome the industry to cruise Taiwan. There are innumerable reasons to visit in 2010, from the rich vibrant history and world-class dining to the many natural wonders, the spectacular mountains of Taroko Gorge and beauty of Sun Moon Lake.
Kaohsiung, one of two major cruise ports in Taiwan, recently announced the scheduled construction of new home port facilities costing $87.35 million. Construction is expected to begin in 2011 for completion in 2014. Speaking to delegates at Cruise Shipping Miami, Jyh-Perng Sun, the director of Kaohsiung City Marine Bureau, expressed Taiwan's eagerness to host future industry conferences and other events as planners seek appropriate venues and his bureau enthusiasm for attracting cruise lines that might interested in home porting a ship in Kaohsiung Harbor.
Keelung is also in the process of renovation and upgrading with the construction of a $78 million multi-functional building that would integrate cruise passenger traffic, an exhibition center, shopping mall and port offices. Construction is scheduled to be completed in 2013. Other international ports in the country include Taichung and Hualien. The island nation has a total of 11 ports and maintains a strong interest in boosting its share of the Asian cargo market as well. Keelung alone will invest roughly $300 million by 2016 to make its facilities and services more internationally competitive.
The growth of the Asian market is also fueled by strong increases in the number of Chinese travelers in the region, particularly to Taiwan, CLIA reports. More than one million international cruise passengers are expected to visit Asia in 2010. A significant reflection of the growing importance of the Asian market is this year's Seatrade All Asia Cruise Convention, which will take place June 24-25 at the International Cruise Terminal in Shanghai.
And, last January, UBM International Media, organizers of Cruise Shipping Miami, announced that an inaugural Cruise Shipping Asia conference would be held in Singapore, November 16-18, 2011. CLIA says Taiwan is eager to host international cruise industry events in the near future. Cruise lines that are interested in adding Taiwan to their itineraries in 2011 or beyond, can contact the Taiwan Tourism Bureau [email protected]