During the recently concluded ASEAN Travel Forum, ASEAN members unveiled the association’s newest brand, ” Cruise Southeast Asia”, taking another step towards establishing the region as a cruising region of choice. The project is driven by Singapore, ASEAN first cruise destination with some 170,000 cruise passengers last year and coordinator for the cruise development within the region.
“They are 25,000 islands in ASEAN, most of them located within relative short sailing time. This provides a unique opportunity and a fantastic choice to cruise passengers who can visit one destination each single day. And beyond proximity, ASEAN warm climate makes cruise activities possible ll-year round”, explained Michelle Chan from the Singapore Tourism Board and who is in charge of cruise tourism.
The brand was officially launched by ASEAN Tourism Ministers on the last day of the ASEAN Tourism Forum at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, and bears the tagline, ‘Feel the warmth’.
With cruise tourism being a regional product that taps on the appeal of the various destinations, the creation of the Cruise Southeast Asia brand will further entrench ASEAN in the minds of both consumers and industry stakeholders. It will also help raise interest in cruising as an ideal way to discover the region’s myriad cultures and vibrant combination of history and modernity.
Said Dr. Ong Hong Peng, Secretary General, Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Malaysia: “I am confident the development of an ASEAN Cruise brand is indeed a significant initiative to generate new sources of growth for the region. As such, ASEAN countries can look forward to seeing more cruise ships coming to this part of the world. Towards this end, our Ministry of Tourism and Culture will intensify its support and enhance cooperation to promote and grow the ASEAN Cruise brand in the coming years.”
The idea for a unified regional brand will help to grow cruise tourism together. However, more important than branding will be the development of prime infrastructures to welcome large vessels and their passengers. ASEAN members are now embarked into an ambitious plan of developing new cruise facilities, offering world-class standards like in Singapore. So far Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam with HCM City and Danang offer such facilities. It is however too little.
Indonesia is the most ambitious and has embarked into the construction of at least four to five ports, including Jakarta, Bali, Medan and Surabaya. In total, the country plans a dozen new or enlarged port facilities able to cater with cruise ships. The Philippines are now upgrading their cruise facilities, especially in Manila, Cebu and Palawan. Cambodia is looking to expand Sihanoukville Port facilities and built new facilities around Kampot city along the coast.
The brand will be unveiled to the international cruise industry in March when ASEAN member states come together once more to promote cruising in the region at the Seatrade Cruise Global conference and trade show in Miami in Florida. ASEAN already participated to the show in 2014 presenting ASEAN cruise offer under a single pavilion.