Smooth sailing for M'sia's cruise industry

With demand on the rise, clear skies are ahead for the cruise industry in Malaysia.

The cruise industry in Malaysia is primed to expand rapidly in the near future due to the region's potential for cruise. According to Tourism Malaysia, the Asian and international cruise is growing at an average rate if 14 per cent annually over the past 10 years.

Likewise, Malaysia's cruise industry is also set to grow, with the number of cruise passengers estimated to exceed half a million in 2013.

Princess Cruises is one of the companies that is responding to the vast potential of the Malaysian and Southeast Asian cruise market. The company will be bringing the Sapphire Princess ship for a four-month season from November 2014 to February 2015.

"With its fascinating architectural landscapes and rich melting pot of cultures, Malaysia is definitely an exciting destination. Its cultural and natural attractions are bound to appeal to international and cruise vacationers alike," said Farriek Tawfik, Princess Cruises Southeast Asia director.

With over 25,000 islands within the region, Southeast Asia has a natural advantage that provides it with an edge in the global cruise market. And Malaysia is well placed to benefit from the region's growing cruise market.

TTG Asia (travel-trade business resource) reported that Penang handled a total of 211,554 cruise ship passengers with 139 ship calls last year. This is followed by Port Klang at 141,266 passengers with 52 ship calls. Langkawi is expected to claim third spot this year with 59,600 passengers and 52 ship calls.

A separate report by the Malaysia Cruise Council indicated that Port Klang is expecting 195,000 passengers this year, an increase of 38 per cent from last year.

Farriek believes that the cruise industry - based on passenger and crew spending in each port, port and other local costs as well as travel agent commissions and marketing costs - will bring considerable economic benefits to the country.

Additionally, strong government support and initiatives in the sector with regard to regulatory procedures, destination development and port infrastructure will facilitate the growth of the cruise market.

For example, Port Klang's cruise ship capacity has been increased to cater to larger ships and more passengers.

"In terms of demand, increasingly affluent customers will help to set the stage for a positive outlook on the country's cruise market," Farriek concluded.