Product Diversity and Industry Engagement – the ingredients of Global Cruising Growth
This is the second of a two part report on the spectacular growth of global cruising based on the presentations from the Cruise 360 Conference held in Sydney on September 16.
Global cruising is preparing for a growth spurt which is likely to continue for at least the next decade according to Cindy D’Aoust, Global President and CEO of Cruise Lines International.
As reported last week in my column, much of this growth is expected to come from Asia and especially China. China has already become the fastest growing market in global cruising but coming of a low base. However, the indications are that, initially Chinese will favour short duration cruises which sail relatively close to home and in time the Chinese market will diversify its cruise type and destination preferences. One of the main trends is the growing diversity of cruise product.
River Cruising, once limited to a few rivers in Western Europe and the Egyptian Nile now include almost every major river in the world. Whether we choose the Irawaddy, Amazon, Yangtze, Mekong, Volga, Mississippi, Murray, Rhone or any other of world’s great rivers there is a growing variety of River cruise product. Increasingly, global tour brands such as Avalon Waterways (Globus Family), APT Tours, Scenic Tours and the Travel Corporation have embraced river cruise options as integral elements of their tour product.
Adventure cruise product such as the cruises run by Ponant have opened up opportunities to visit coastlines in style in destinations which were previously considered inaccessible. The Kimberly region of NW Australia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Patagonia and many of the more remote islands in Indonesia and the Philippines and Antarctica are now hot destinations for the adventure cruising. In Europe in shore cruising on small vessels operating from the Turkish and Croatian coasts area available at very competitive process which appeal to young backpackers.
Travel agents are still regarded as the most important source of information for cruise customers and the main source of bookings for cruise companies. The complex choices required to book cruises on the new generation super ships and the many new cruise options require travel agents to develop an understanding of cruise product. Peter Kollar is CLIA Australasia’s head of Training and he is frequently invited to train travel agents all over the world. Peter’s qualifications for this role are formidable. He has over 10 years on-board experience in the cruise industry and over 5 years selling cruise product with travel agents. Peter has given guest lectures to hundreds of tourism students including my own students at UTS and he is a brilliant presenter. Globally, CLIA has trained thousands of travel agents and CLIA accreditation is now an essential enabler for travel agents who want to effectively sell and market cruising.
While commission for travel agents have been under attack by other sector suppliers, travel agents who understand the cruise product can make themselves and their agencies good commissions by selling cruise. Many destination have invested heavily in supporting cruising infrastructure. Singapore and Dubai have seen cruising as excellent value adds to the air services which bring millions of travellers to their destinations.
As cruising continues to grow in the Asia Pacific more destinations will require upgrades to port and berthing facilities to cater to the growth of cruise demand. Barry Brown, Vice President, commercial Operations, Emirates pointed out that in Dubai, the growth of the cruise market is seen as an opportunity for a growing fly- cruise market which is developing in that country.
Cruising incorporated with intermodal tourism will increasingly become a growing part the future travel experience.