(Relaxnews) – China is poised to become the second largest global cruise market after the US by 2017.
The projection would be a giant leap for the industry, especially given that the Chinese only make up six to seven percent of the global cruise market today.
But in 2017, the number of cruise passengers from the Asian giant is expected to reach 3.7 million. From there, the figure could double to more than 7 million by 2020, says a new report released out of the World Trade Market in London this week.
In recent years, the cruise industry has recognized Asia as a source of major growth, pulling off a string of milestones and developments in the region.
For example, this summer Hong Kong opened its $1.1 billion cruise terminal which is set to become a major hub for luxury liners in Asia. The first mega ship to dock at the port — formerly the site of the Kai Tak airport — was the Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas, a 311-meter-long (1,020 feet) vessel.
China’s first luxury liner, the Henna, was also inaugurated earlier this year — which the government declared Marine Tourism Year — sailing between the southern tip of the country and Vietnam.
While Carnival already has a presence in Asia through its Costa brand, the company announced plans to launch The Sapphire Princess to Singapore from November 2014 to February 2015.
And over at Royal Caribbean, the number of Chinese passengers quadrupled from 25,000 to 100,000 between 2011 and 2012. This year, that figure is expected to double to 200,000.
After China, the Asian Cruise Association predicts Myanmar, Malaysia, South Korea and Vietnam to become major port destinations.