Email this article
Speech by Commissioner for Tourism at Seatrade All Asia Cruise Convention (English only)

     Following is a speech by the Commissioner for Tourism, Miss Au King-chi, at the Seatrade All Asia Cruise Convention in Shanghai today (October 23):

Good afternoon, Mr Hayman (Christopher), Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

     It is my pleasure to join you all this afternoon. I would like to share with you Hong Kong's latest developments as a regional cruise hub, particularly the efforts made by the Government in promoting cruise tourism.  

     Let me share with you some findings of the visitor surveys in 2007.
1. On visitor satisfaction, out of a 10 points scale, more than 90% of our visitors rated Hong Kong between 8 to 10;

2. The survey findings also showed that of those Mainland visitors coming to Hong Kong (whose total number exceeded 14 million in 2007), 50% were interested in cruise vacations; and

3. 90% of them were interested in joining cruise vacations in Hong Kong.  

     But why?

     We believe the answer lies in our geographical advantage and our relentless efforts to establish Hong Kong as a world city in Asia.

     Hong Kong is ideally located in the heart of the Asia-Pacific region, within five hours flying time of half of the worldˇ¦s population. There are already a diverse range of tourist attractions in Hong Kong and our neighbourhood with easy connectivity.   Most visitors name shopping or dining as their No 1 must-do activity in Hong Kong.  Michelin has just announced that it will launch a Dining Guide on Hong Kong in December.

     We have a vibrant community with a unique cultural blend of East and West; the hustle and bustle of our cosmopolitan city co-exists side-by-side with the tranquility of country parks; a modern shopping experience awaits you all year round.  

     We have excellent airlift capacity. Cruise passengers can fly easily from all around the globe to Hong Kong to start their cruise journey.

     Most importantly, we have a magnificent harbour. It is deep and without air draft limit. I am sure those of you who have sailed through Victoria Harbour will have enjoyed a memorable experience with its spectacular view.

     We have laid a sound foundation for the development of Hong Kong as a regional cruise hub.

     In 2007, we received more than 1,100 cruise vessels. The annual cruise passenger throughput has increased from 2.3 million in 2006 to 2.6 million in 2007.  It has doubled since 1999. We are also delighted that major cruise lines have deployed their cruise vessels to homeport at Hong Kong this year. Our central location in the Asia-Pacific region allows us to offer a diverse range of cruise itineraries. As you can see from the map, we offer cruises of short, medium and longer durations from Hong Kong.

     Hong Kong is also a "must-see" port on round-the-world voyages.

     Last year, around 70% of passengers taking cruise vacations from Hong Kong came from Mainland China.  We see huge potential for growth for the Mainland Chinese market.  

     The UN World Tourism Organisation projected that the number of outbound tourists from Mainland China could reach 100 million by 2020, a great leap forward from about 41 million in 2007.

     Hong Kong alone received more than 14 million Mainland Chinese tourists in 2007.  Up to August this year, we already welcomed more than 11 million tourists from Mainland China, an increase of more than 10% over the same period last year.

     For cruise lines eyeing the Mainland market, Hong Kong is an ideal home base for your cruise vessels.

     Despite challenges presented by the financial market turbulence, this is the right time to invest more in tourism hardware and software to position ourselves for the recovery of the global economy. Allow me to explain how the Hong Kong Government is putting its money where its mouth is.

    Last month, the Government announced it would fully fund the development of a new cruise terminal. The decision was made after we tested the market for a public-private participation earlier this year.   Under the new approach, the Government will develop the new cruise terminal, and lease the facilities to a cruise terminal operator on completion of the first berth in 2013.  

    Under our proposed development parameters, the two berths should be able to accommodate the most up-to-date cruise vessels commissioned.  They are of 220,000 gross tonnage or 110,000 displacement tonnage. We have no air draft limitation, and our customs, immigration and health quarantine operation will be able to clear about 3,000 passengers per hour.

     Under our development timeframe, the first berth of the new cruise terminal will be commissioned in 2013 with temporary facilities. The second berth and the cruise terminal building will be completed in 2014-15.

     The Government plans to lease the facilities to a cruise terminal operator for seven to 10 years.  It would be required to operate the two berths on a "shared-use" principle, that is, it has to open the berths for use by all cruise lines.

     The operator would also be required to fulfil certain performance pledges for the management of the cruise terminal.

     By bringing in a market operator, we hope to promote innovation and flexibility in the future management of the cruise terminal.

     We have already formulated the development parameters for the new cruise terminal in consultation with the cruise industry. Based on these, we shall engage the industry shortly on the detailed design of the terminal to meet their future requirements.  We welcome the views and suggestions from the industry, including local and international users of the cruise terminal.  

     Development of hardware is essential, but must be complemented by efforts to upgrade the software for cruise tourism. To this end, we  established an Advisory Committee on Cruise Industry in January this year to bring together relevant government departments, the Hong Kong Tourism Board and the major stakeholders in the market, including cruise lines, ground handling agents, shipping agents and travel agents.

     The committee is focusing on a few key areas, such as launching joint efforts with the cruise industry to develop new source markets, encouraging supply of talent to meet the needs of the cruise industry, and promoting co-operation with neighbouring coastal provinces in cruise tourism.

     Such efforts are conducive to enhancing our position as a regional cruise hub for local, regional and international visitors.

     The region must join hands to develop cruise tourism.  

     As a first step, Hong Kong has taken the initiative to liaise with neighbouring Mainland coastal provinces.  

     With their input, the Hong Kong Tourism Board will launch a website by December, as an information platform for cruise market players. The website carries information on port facilities and tourism resources of Hong Kong and neighbouring provinces. We hope this will be the starting point for developing multi-destination cruise plus land itineraries for cruise passengers.
     Ladies and gentlemen, we see enormous opportunities for the growth of cruise tourism in the region.  China is emerging as a major source market for cruise passengers.   The Asia-Pacific region is a tempting first step for Chinese tourists seeking the cruise experience, and Hong Kong is an efficient, convenient and familiar place for them to begin their cruise vacations.

     After the completion of our new cruise terminal at Kai Tak, together with the existing cruise terminal in Tsim Sha Tsui, there will be a total of four berths in Hong Kong. This will provide the perfect springboard for you to launch your cruise business.  

     So climb aboard and take advantage of Hong Kong's business-friendly and cruise-friendly environment.

     Thank you.

Ends/Thursday, October 23, 2008
Issued at HKT 17:20


Print this page