The rise of cruis­ing in In­dia

With an in­crease in de­sire to cruise, In­di­ans are also look­ing at it as a venue for events. Peter Kol­lar, Head of In­ter­na­tional Train­ing & De­vel­op­ment, Cruise Lines In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion (CLIA), out­lines the evolv­ing cruise mar­ket.

TravTalk - India - - GUESTCOLUMN - Peter Kol­lar Head of In­ter­na­tional Train­ing & De­vel­op­ment, Cruise Lines In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion (CLIA)

Last month we re­leased our CLIA Asia Cruise Trends re­port for 2017 which out­lined im­por­tant cruise data ex­tracted from the Asian mar­ket from 2016, in­clud­ing a sub-sec­tion on In­dian cruise statis­tics. Al­though most front-line re­tail travel agents don’t re­ally en­gage in statis­tics, graphs, and num­bers, it can pro­vide valu­able in­sight. Let us have a closer look at the find­ings and what they mean.

In­dia will host 128 cruise calls in 2017, which is up by one-third from last year. This is great for the lo­cal econ­omy as more pas­sen­gers vis­it­ing means more spend­ing ashore. But when we take a deeper look into this fig­ure, it tells us that In­dia only hosted 12 turn­around calls this year – def­i­nitely a num­ber that is too low con­sid­er­ing In­dia has five major ports. Hav­ing cruise lines use a lo­cal port as the start and end of the cruise is much more at­trac­tive to lo­cals, and an in­crease in this num­ber would mean more In­di­ans are cruis­ing. If more In­di­ans cruise, then cruise lines start look­ing at In­dia fur­ther as an op­tion to place more ships in the area as a turn­around op­tion, and this again re­sults in an in­crease of lo­cal peo­ple cruis­ing, and an up­ward spi­ral be­gins which his­tor­i­cally can be seen in other strong mar­kets like Aus­tralia which currently has one in 20 cruis­ing, un­like a decade ear­lier when it was in a sim­i­lar po­si­tion to In­dia to­day. Fly-cruise still pop­u­lar

Of course, fly-cruise is still a pop­u­lar op­tion for In­di­ans, and the in­crease of In­di­ans us­ing the major cruise hub of Sin­ga­pore is a pos­i­tive story. About 1,20,596 In­di­ans cruised last year, and though an in­crease from first re­search con­ducted in 2012 (49,442 pax) has a 25 per cent com­pound an­nual growth rate, over the last three years, th­ese num­bers have only in­creased by less than 10,000 pas­sen­gers (in­clud­ing 2,000 pax in­crease from 2015 to 2016). Con­sid­er­ing the vast amount of po­ten­tial In­dia has, it is pro­gres­sive, but the po­ten­tial is im­mense.

When th­ese fig­ures first came out, I ap­proached some of the lead­ing cruise lines in Asia to ask about the In­dian mar­ket and whether the stag­nant fig­ures have con­tin­ued into 2017. The re­sponse was a pos­i­tive one. They in­di­cated that sales of In­dian cruise pas­sen­gers have in­creased quite dra­mat­i­cally this year.

The cruise in­dus­try has come to Asia stronger than ever be­fore, and 2017 is an­other record year of de­ploy­ment in the area. 66 ships are based in Asia this year for six months or more, call­ing into 293 des­ti­na­tions over 18 coun­tries. Given that In­di­ans are more likely to utilise the hub of Sin­ga­pore over op­tions in Bei­jing and Shang­hai, the news is also pos­i­tive in that Sin­ga­pore is also host­ing more itin­er­ar­ies and ships in 2017, mean­ing your client has never had so many choices than be­fore, whether it is about their bud­get, type of cruis­ing, itin­er­ary and brand op­tions.

As cruise lines come, they also bring ad­ver­tis­ing, so more ex­po­sure to the pub­lic will also be­come ev­i­dent in this mar­ket over the next few years. So if you haven’t started your ed­u­ca­tion around this sec­tor you could be be­hind the stan­dard very quickly. Also, your client will be quite young – In­dia has one of the low­est av­er­age age of pas­sen­gers (36) than any other re­gion in the world, though this should not be taken on a per per­son ba­sis, rather it seems that fam­i­lies (which would lower the av­er­age age be­cause of the chil­dren in­cluded) are pop­u­lar groups want­ing to cruise.

It is an ex­cit­ing time for cruis­ing in Asia, and the po­ten­tial of In­dia is tremen­dous – we are right at the point where an in­creased vol­ume and in­ter­est of cruis­ing is about to take off, but not all busi­ness falls into your lap just be­cause it is at your doorstep – you must ac­tively work to get this busi­ness and it starts with ed­u­ca­tion. ( The views ex­pressed are solely of the au­thor. The pub­li­ca­tion may or may not sub­scribe to the same.)

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