The cruise-stops will generate over 5000 tourists -
Five major cruise line companies have notified the Tourism Authority of Thailand that they plan to include Phuket and Laem Chabang, in their regional itineraries by the year 2009.
The feedback from Holland American, Seabourn Cruise Line, Star Clipper, Oceania Cruises and Residen Sea was conveyed to representatives of the TAT New York Office at the Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention held between 10-13 March 2008 in Miami, Florida.
Seatrade is one of the world's largest cruise industry events. Now in its 24th year, it was attended by 11,000 participants (up 13% over last year) from 80 countries worldwide and 903 exhibitors from 71 countries (11 countries from Asia).
The Thailand booth at the event was visited by more than 150 companies seeking information about Thai cruise facilities such as customs, ports, licenses, beaches, hotels/accommodations, etc.
The TAT sees cruise-ship travellers as a high-end market group with high spending power. At present, about 7,000 tourists visit Thailand aboard 12 cruise-ship stops per year.
Thai companies which handle cruise ships in Thailand include Sea Tours, Destination Asia and Turismo Asia, among others. The major ports for cruise business in Thailand are Laem Chabang, Bangkok (Klongtoey) and Phuket.
At this year's Seatrade, there was general consensus that Asian waters hold high potential for expansion of the cruise business, especially China and India, as well as Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.
According to the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) in 2007, the numbers of worldwide cruise passengers totalled 12.6 million of which 10.6 million were tourists from North America. Their destination is usually the Caribbean islands.
Other popular cruising regions are the Mediterranean sea and Hawaii. But the islands, ports and waters of Asia are seen as the next major growth areas.
This year, the TAT booth was supported by the Ports Authority of Thailand, Marina Ports in Phuket and Chonburi, Board of Investment and one Thai observer (Diethelm Travel). Visitors were given information on Thailand's policy on yachting and cruise business.