The cruise industry may be sailing in the wake of a tremendous growth forecast for the Asia/Pacific region predicted by the World Tourism Organization (WTO), which estimates that Asia/Pacific will see nearly 400 million international tourist arrivals annually by 2020, compared to 153 million in 2004. Anticipated to increase at a rate of 6.5 percent per year, the WTO predicts that the region will be second only to Europe in terms of foreign visitors and that the world’s top destination will be China.

The next most visited destinations in the region will be Hong Kong, followed by Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, then, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Philippines, South Korea and Japan, according to the WTO.

In 2004, China ranked fifth – with 42 million tourist arrivals, with Hong Kong in seventh with 22 million.

In addition, the WTO forecasts that Asia/Pacific will be generating more than 400 million outbound tourists annually by 2020 – again only second to Europe. The five largest outbound markets in the world will be Germany, Japan, the United States, China, and the United Kingdom.

Thus, according to the WTO, Asia/Pacific represents huge potential – whether in terms of generating its own cruise passengers or attracting visitors. But while the potential is there, cruise lines, however, have so far not been able to tap into it on a significant scale, although that may be about to change.  –Oivind Mathisen

Excerpt from the Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Fall 2005