The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) today marked a major milestone in the construction of the International Cruise Terminal (ICT), a groundbreaking development that brings Singapore closer to realising its aspiration to be the cruise hub of the region.
To be completed by the end of 2011, the ICT will double Singapore's berth capacity and enable more cruise ships to homeport and call on Singapore and Asia. With the ICT's deep waters, a large turning basin and lack of height restrictions, the world's largest ships, such as the Oasis-class ships being built now, will be able to call at Singapore, according to the STB.
The new terminal will complement the existing Singapore Cruise Centre at the Southern Waterfront precinct.
Singapore's first purpose-built cruise terminal has been designed to ensure smooth and seamless accessibility for both passengers and cruise ships, to achieve quick passenger turnaround of 30 minutes from the point of disembarkation to the point of departure from the terminal.
The new terminal is expected to meet the projected growth of the Asia-Pacific cruise industry, which, the STB said, constitutes about 7 per cent of the world's cruise market today.
Addressing the guests at the ceremony, Minister Lim noted that the ICT will harness the positive growth momentum in the region and spur the growth of Singapore's cruise industry.
"The Asian cruise industry is at the cusp of significant growth, and the opportunities for the region and Singapore are tremendous. The ICT will be a strategic enabler to achieve Singapore's aspiration to be a cruise hub of Asia and gateway to the region, and testifies to Singapore's continued commitment to the development of the Asian cruise industry," he said.
As a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and as the current chair of the ASEAN Cruise Working Group, Singapore is working closely with ASEAN members to create a cruise-friendly environment in the region, develop enticing cruise itineraries and promote ASEAN as a cruise destination.
Cruise lines have also joined hands to further develop the regional cruise industry and establish Asia as a must-visit destination in the global cruise itinerary. Costa Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Silversea and Star Cruise have formed the Asia Cruise Association (ACA) in Singapore, thus entrenching Singapore's position as a hub for the region.
Said ACA's spokesperson, Jennifer Yap, "We believe our planned initiatives to promote the development, professional growth and commercial success of the cruise industry will significantly raise the profile of cruising in Asia."
Ms Aw Kah Peng, Chief Executive of the Singapore Tourism Board, highlighted the growth potential of Singapore's cruise industry: "Singapore's cruise passenger throughput has grown steadily, registering a healthy average annual growth rate of 12% between 2003 and 2008. The industry has remained resilient amid the economic downturn, evident in the 20% growth in arrivals in the first half of this year against the same period last year. The STB targets to attract 1.6 million cruise passengers by 2015."
According to the Singapore Cruise Centre, more than 1,000 ships called last year, contributing to a passenger throughput of over 920,000. The majority of these passengers were from Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand and Europe - demonstrating Singapore's international appeal as a cruise destination. The first half of 2009 saw 540,000 cruise arrivals and it is projected that Singapore will welcome its one-millionth cruise passenger by year end.
Leveraging Singapore's prime location at the nexus of major international maritime routes as well as its excellent land, air and sea connectivity to destinations worldwide, the ICT will be a strategically located and world-class cruise terminal that will be abuzz with activity all year round. Its location, in Singapore's new downtown lifestyle and financial hub, will complement business facilities as well as new leisure and entertainment attractions such as the Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay SandsTM, Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Barrage.