With a growing middle class, Asia is on its way to become the next big cruise market, according to Lionel Yeo, CEO of the Singapore Tourism Board. He listed India, China, Australia and Malaysia among the interesting markets for Singapore-based cruises.

Yeo said the Singapore government invested S$500 million in the new Marina Bay terminal to allow the biggest ships to call and is further working with the cruise lines to help raise awareness, including sharing their marketing expenses.

The payback, according to Yeo, comes from passengers who fly in and spend time before and after their cruise. “We benefit directly from pre- and post-cruise stays,” he said.

In addition, homeported ships spend money on provisioning and fuel, as well as maintenance and drydocking at the Sembawang shipyard.

Last year, Singapore had 14.4 million international visitor arrivals – from Indonesia, Malaysia, China, India and Australia. Tourism accounted for 4 percent of the GPD (gross domestic product) last year and is expected to grow doing forward, Yeo said. “Tourism is a bright spot in our economy.”

Yeo added that Singapore offers the best of Asia with culture, food, entertainment and special events, and is ideally located for exploring the region. The city-state is also safe, he said, and has excellent air connections.