Chinese cruise market experiences almost 100% growth in 2016

USA/ASIA PACIFIC. Asia’s fast-expanding cruise market capacity has the potential to outstrip that of other regions, with China taking a lead. That’s according to new figures from the world’s largest cruise industry trade association.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has just released two analyses – its 2017 Asia Cruise Trends Report and North Asia Economic Impact Study – whose findings suggest that the Asian cruise market will become a key focus for the future. The channel is therefore also likely to become a bigger draw for the duty free and travel retail business.

Among the key takeaways of the studies is that a total of 3.1 million Asians took cruises in 2016, +55% more than in 2015. Of these, 68%, or 2.1 million were from mainland China. The Chinese market almost doubled, growing by +99% last year and having an impressive four-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of +76%, according to the CLIA data. “This confirms China as the world’s fastest growing major source of passengers,” said the association.

CLIA Executive Director Joel Katz commented: “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. With these studies, CLIA aims to provide industry stakeholders with actionable, meaningful information to assist in structuring and supporting this emerging region.”

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More ship deployment

There were also more cruise ships deployed in Asian waters this year, at 66. Five of these are mega ships (more than 3,500 passenger capacity), 13 are large (2,000 to 3,500 passengers), while 26 are mid-size, and 17 small, seasonal upscale vessels. For comparison the 2013 season saw only 43 ships cruising in Asia, marking +53% growth since then.

The number of operating days in 2017 will more than double, with 10,196 scheduled in Asia for 2017, an increase of +137% from 4,307 days in 2013. The increase over 2016 is also high at +25%. The operating days in 2017 equate to a total capacity of 4.24 million passengers, which means that passenger capacity has nearly tripled from 1.51 million in 2013.

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One feature of the high demand is that Asian travellers are predominantly taking cruises within the region. Out of the 2,086 sailings scheduled for Asian waters in 2017, 1,992 cruises (almost all at 95.4%) will remain within Asia, with exclusive Asia-to-Asia itineraries. An additional 94 voyages are scheduled to pass through the Asia region in 2017. Total sailings in, and through, Asia have seen strong growth over the past four years, increasing +142% from 861 cruises and voyages in 2013 to 2,086 in 2017.

Economic impacts

Among the highlights from the North Asia Economic Impact Study are the following:

  • The direct economic contribution of cruise tourism across North Asia was US$3.23 billion in direct expenditures, US$1.51 billion in value-added goods and services, and 23,697 full- and part-time jobs paying US$754.5 million in employee compensation.
  • Direct beneficiaries of cruise tourism spending were: wholesale and retail trade (US$962.3 million), other services and government (US$693.9 million), financial and business services (US$679.5 million). Combined, these three sectors accounted for approximately 72% of the regional direct impacts.
  • Manufacturing, financial and business services, and agriculture accounted for approximately 79% of the total indirect and induced impacts with US$3.16 billion in output, US$1.22 billion in value-added, and 19,893 full- and part-time jobs paying US$491.1 million in employee compensation.
  • Combining the direct, indirect and induced contributions, the total economic contribution of cruise tourism in the three North Asia economies amounted to US$7.21 billion in output, US$3.23 billion in value-added goods and services, and 51,631 full- and part-time jobs paying US$1.5 billion in employee compensation.
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Click here to view the full 2017 Asia Trends Study and/or click here to view the full 2017 North Asia Economic Impact Study.

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