Multi-million dollar tie-up to give fly-cruise market a lift

Nisha Ramchandani
Published Mon, Mar 6, 2017 · 09:50 PM
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CRUISE operator Royal Caribbean International has inked a multi-million dollar partnership with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and Changi Airport Group (CAG) which is expected to reap more fly-cruise passengers and some S$26 million in tourism revenue for Singapore.

The aim is to attract 45,000 overseas fly-cruise guests here to sail on the Ovation of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas ships from March to June this year; this is on top of the 65,000 passengers expected to sail on Mariner of the Seas between October last year and this month.

The latest partnership will encompass marketing campaigns, research studies as well as tie-ups with media and trade. In addition to markets in Asia, it will also focus on Australia, Europe and North America.

The tripartite partnership is the second one between the three parties following a previous collaboration that was implemented in August 2015 for Mariner of the Seas. While that aimed to rack up over 170,000 overseas fly-cruise visitors to Singapore over a three-year period, the first year's figures pipped the annual visitor target by over 40 per cent.

"The potential for cruise in Asia is phenomenal," said Sean Treacy, managing director (Asia Pacific) of Royal Caribbean Cruises. "There's a lot of upside in Asia and that's why (it is) the fastest growing region for our brand, and also for the industry." He pointed to potential source markets for growth such as India and Indonesia.

Exact investment figures were not given for the new partnership, which is expected to cost over several million dollars.

According to data from the STB, cruise passenger throughput expanded 16 per cent year on year to 1.2 million in 2016, thanks in part to 7 per cent more ship calls. Last year, there were 411 cruise ship calls, of which 10 were maiden ones. In particular, Indian tourists accounted for 100,000 cruise passengers in 2016, up 29 per cent from the year before. Germany was another strong market last year, with 55 per cent growth to 56,000 cruise passengers.

"The domestic cruise market in Singapore is significant but needs to be augmented with regional market sourcing," said Annie Chang, director (cruise) for STB, adding that the regional market is important in order for the city-state to establish itself as Asia's cruise hub.

She added: "When passengers come to Singapore, they do not only come for the tour - they do pre (and) post days. This is a good orientation for them on Singapore as a destination, and then subsequently, to encourage repeat visitorship."

For its 2017/2018 season, Royal Caribbean will organise 72 sailings on its Mariner of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas ships; this is up from 64 previously.

Ovation of the Seas docked in Singapore on Monday for its inaugural season here, with 10 sailings slated for the season. Over half of the ship's bookings have stemmed from overseas, Royal Caribbean said. At 347 metres long, Ovation of the Seas is the biggest cruise ship to come to Singapore with a capacity of more than 4,900 guests.

"We, as Changi Airport Group, can play a role in growing fly-cruise traffic," said Peh Ke-Wei, CAG's vice-president of passenger development. "We also see that as an opportunity for Changi to get incremental traffic with our Terminal 4 opening in the second half of this year."

Already, passengers flying selected airlines can check in their luggage at Changi Airport prior to their cruise departure.

The upcoming Project Jewel, which is due to open in 2018, is also expected to have a lounge with dedicated services for fly-cruise passengers.

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