More travellers wanting to set sail

Time to explore: Siew (right) says he would consider taking his family for a cruise next year.

PETALING JAYA: The cruise industry is calling for more government support as the intent to cruise among travellers is higher than it was pre-pandemic.

Malaysia Cruise Industry Association president Datuk Seri Koh Yock Heng said people are eager to travel locally and abroad now that home port cruises have been selling well.

“Since the start of operations last year, Malaysians favour home port cruise packages offered by Resort World Cruises in Port Klang because they are value for money.

“Others included regional cruises with home ports in Singapore, such as Royal Caribbean Cruises,” he said in an interview.

Koh noted that cruising is gaining popularity due to its new holiday concept, leisure-focused experiences, the convenience of not checking in and out every day and good value for money compared to traditional tour packages.

Koh: There is growing demand for high-end international cruises.Koh: There is growing demand for high-end international cruises.

“There is a wide variety of theme park and entertainment activities on board, international food choices and daily excursions, it is suitable for couples on honeymoon and it offers more human interaction during the journey.

“An example of a highly popular regional cruise is a three-day two-night return package from Port Klang to Singapore that costs around RM1,500 per person,” he said.

Koh said there is also a growing demand for high-end international cruises among the high-income group.

“Shore excursions play a significant role in attracting cruise travellers.

“They offer unique experiences at each destination, enhancing the overall cruise experience,” he said.

Quoting the State of the Cruise Industry 2023 report by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), Koh said cruises continue to be one of the fastest-growing tourism sectors.

“According to the CLIA Passenger Data and Tourism Economics report in December 2022, ocean-going cruise passengers was at an all-time low of only 4.8 million passengers in 2021.

“But it soared to 20.4 million passengers in 2022.

“Cruise tourism is forecast to reach 106% of 2019 levels in 2023, with 31.5 million passengers and 36 million passengers in 2024.

“This is higher than the January 2023 United Nations World Tourism Organisation forecast that international tourist arrivals in 2023 will be 80% to 95% of 2019 levels,” he said.

Koh said Malaysia was one of the most attractive cruise destinations in the region and part of many round-the-world cruise routes.

“However, the current cruise sector has been impacted by the pandemic. International ship calls and cruise passengers are now fewer.

“While Port Klang is too far away from Kuala Lumpur, both Penang and Langkawi ports are still doing well.

“We need to improve our ports and overall support system to attract more cruise travellers,” he said.

Koh noted that there needs to be more government support to get overseas cruises to Malaysia.

“Cruise business is a long-term investment.

“Improvements can be made to attract more cruise travellers such as better access from Port Klang to Kuala Lumpur and government support to enhance port facilities,” he said.

He added that there are limited inbound land operators to offer excursion products.

“There is not enough marketing promotions.

“The government can provide incentives to operators to attract more cruise companies to make Malaysia their home port or call of port.

“Also, support local land operators to build a robust ecosystem for the cruise industry,” he added.

Khoo: I will give cruising a try since I have plenty of time now.Khoo: I will give cruising a try since I have plenty of time now.

Meanwhile, frequent traveller Siew Heong Weng said he would consider taking his family for a cruise next year.

“Actually, I wanted to a few years back but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the plan was put on hold.

“We’ve just returned from a family trip to Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou, as well as Taiwan and Thailand.

“It was a breeze visiting all these places. My two sons had a whale of a time at the Shanghai Disneyland theme park,” said the freelance auditor.

Siew said they have been holidaying locally since the various restrictions were lifted and decided that it was time to explore overseas.

“Despite the weak ringgit, we decided to proceed as it may drop some more due to global economic uncertainty,” he said.

Khoo Kong Wah, another avid traveller, also said he would give cruising a try since he has plenty of time now, having just retired in October.

“I have just come back from Fuzhou, China. It was so crowded there. It’s about time I take things easy and enjoy my retirement,” said the former director of a multinational company.

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Tourism , cruise , travel , travellers , excursion , port , facilities


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