Onsite: New Hong Kong Cruise Terminal Highlights Growing Asian Cruise Market

MIAMI-A new cruise terminal in Hong Kong is slated to begin service by 2012, if the appropriate funds can be raised, announced a Hong Kong official at a morning session of the Seatrade conference in Miami. Au King-Chi, commissioner for tourism, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, said the new cruise terminal hub would encompass 19 acres of land on a defunct runway at the old Kai Tak airport site. The terminal would call for two berths capable of receiving ships similarly sized to the Queen Mary 2. The site would be one part of an 810-urban development project, which Hong Kong hopes will spur more incoming tourism. Cruising only accounts for five percent of overall travel in Asia. The one snag: there's no money to build it yet. An open land tender will commence in the fourth quarter of this year, and the winning bidder will then own the land and terminal for a period of 50 years. The project will also be a gateway to capture the burgeoning market in China, said King-Chi. "The time is now to spotlight Hong Kong," she said. Hong Kong is only one cog in the growing Asian tourism economy, which is undergoing an upper-middle class expansion. "There is high growth potential for Asia as a cruise market," said Dayne Lim, director of the Singapore tourism board. Singapore, too, is expected to have a new cruise terminal operating by either 2012 or 2013 in Marina South, and hopes to homeport 10 cruise ships by 2015, Lim said.