Hong Kong cruises into calmer waters

First international cruise liner in three years arrives from Singapore

The Silver Spirit became the first international cruise liner to enter Hong Kong harbour in three years, last week. As Hong Kong cruises into an expanding tourism market, the Silversea cruise arrived from Singapore for an overnight stay with 320 passengers from 20 countries onboard.

Luxurious German-operated Mein Schiff 5 will dock in Hong Kong four times in early March. TUI Cruises expects to bring more than 5,000 visitors. Hong Kong’s tourism board has at least 80 cruises booked this year.

Adam Radwanski, Silversea’s Asia-Pacific managing director, thinks Hong Kong’s position in the Greater Bay Area makes it an ideal funnel for cruises to draw new guests. The Guangdong–Hong Kong–Macao Greater Bay Area is China’s latest megalopolis in South China. It is envisioned as an integrated economic area aimed at taking a leading role globally by 2035 if it hasn’t gone underwater by then, which might not be all bad for the cruise ship business.

Radwanski said…

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“We anticipate a very fast and strong rebound for not only cruising in Hong Kong but also tourism in this city.”

According to Indian news source The Local Report, last Wednesday, mainland customers snapped up HK$35 million (US$4.5 million, 150 million baht) worth of deals for the seven-day Chinese New Year holiday over a live-streaming event hosted by Trip.com. That included 22,000 hotel room nights.

Thailand was the top destination for mainland tourists with packages worth 40 million yuan (US$6 million, 200 million baht) sold.

Trip.com’s Sun Tianxu said Hong Kong could do more to entice mainlanders by scrapping the PCR test requirement and masks in public, besides cutting red tape for visas.

Sun said…

“There are still a lot of people queuing for visas in cities on the mainland. It can take five to seven days for approval.”

Former Hong Kong Airport Authority chief Stanley Hui Hon-Chung, now CEO at Greater Bay Airlines, said it would take time for travellers to return to Hong Kong…

“For many people, it is not a tourist destination, but part of their journey to mainland China. When tourists stopover in Hong Kong, they may stay here to meet business contacts, shop or tour the city. Ultimately, prospects rely greatly on Beijing’s policies, as mainland tourists are the bulk of arrivals.

“With China opening up its border with Hong Kong, there will be more mainland tourists flocking to the city. They are expected to boost tourism income as they have great purchasing power and a big desire to explore the world.”

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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