GEORGE TOWN (Aug 7): The tourism sector in Malaysia, and Penang specifically, is well positioned to take advantage of the bright prospects of the cruise market in Asia.
Angie Stephen, the vice-president of Royal Caribbean International and managing director for the Asia-Pacific region, said the Asian market, in general, is very new to the cruise market, and that not many cruise ships visit the region compared to Alaska, Europe, and the Caribbean, which are saturated with cruise ships.
“Asia is the last untapped region and it has the fastest growing middle class. We all have a great opportunity to take the lead and drive the infrastructure and policy development here so that more ships will be drawn into the region, subsequently into Penang and Malaysia ,” she told a media briefing in conjunction with the Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas one-day showcase on Saturday (Aug 6).
“Penang is well positioned because guests can walk right off the ship into the heart of the city. It is our customers’ favorite stop in Southeast Asia cruises,” she said.
After being negatively impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic for the past two years, just like the rest of the tourism industry, Stephen said Royal Caribbean finally reported positive cash flow recently as well as encouraging figures for its load factor.
She said Royal Caribbean is working its way up to 100% load factor as it continues to see strong international demand due to the easing of travel restrictions and more flight availability into the region.
Meanwhile, Penang Port Commission chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng said Penang is primed for a tourism rebound with the arrival of Spectrum of the Seas.
“Penang Port has served 13 international calls totaling nearly 35,000 passengers just in July this year, 27,000 of whom were guests from Spectrum of the Seas.
“As one of the chosen port calls in Malaysia for Spectrum of the Seas’ twice weekly sailings, Penang Port is pleased to warmly welcome and host Spectrum of the Seas, and appreciates the economic growth, joy, and benefits this will bring to Penang, he added.
Spectrum of the Seas will make 50 visits to Malaysia for the rest of the year, translating into over 200,000 guests enjoying what the country has to offer.
Among the highlights of the cruise include its wide array of gastronomy indulgences, spa, fitness center, music hall, swimming pools as well as numerous action and adventure-filled activities such as a rock climbing wall, a skydiving simulator, and a surf simulator.