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Speech by SEDL at arrival welcoming ceremony of SuperStar Aquarius (English only)

    Following is the speech by the Secretary for Economic Development and Labour, Mr Stephen Ip, at arrival welcoming ceremony of the SuperStar Aquarius today (June 22) (English only):

Tan Sri Lim, Mr Chua, Captain Silvennoinen, distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

     I am glad to be here to welcome the arrival of SuperStar Aquarius which is an important step in strengthening Hong Kong's position as a regional cruise hub.

     It is good news that SuperStar Aquarius will become the largest cruise vessel homeporting in Hong Kong.  Together with "Star Pisces" and "Wasa Queen", a total of three cruise vessels from Star Cruises have chosen Hong Kong as their home.  I would like to thank Star Cruises for their vote of confidence in choosing Hong Kong as their homeport.

     The Government is committed to developing Hong Kong into a regional cruise hub through the development of a world-class cruise terminal in East Kowloon.  Our plan is to invite tender upon completion of the town planning procedures in the fourth quarter this year.  The first berth will be commissioned by 2012.  We have just completed a market engagement exercise and will refine our tender requirements accordingly.

     The cruise industry has emerged as one of the fastest growing market segments of the worldwide travel and leisure industry.  The vibrant tourism market in the Asia Pacific region and the economic growth in key markets, particularly in Mainland China, have created tremendous opportunities for the cruise industry.  To capitalise on the growth of the cruise market in the region, the Tourism Commission, together with the Hong Kong Tourism Board, are exploring opportunities for co-operation with our neighboring coastal provinces including Hainan, Guangdong and Fujian to develop cruise itineraries and joint promotion strategies.    

     Ladies and Gentlemen, let us welcome once again the arrival of SuperStar Aquarius, which demonstrates the strengths of Hong Kong as a cruise hub as well as the vision and smart decision on the part of Star Cruises.

     Thank you.

Ends/Friday, June 22, 2007
Issued at HKT 18:06


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