Michael Goh, senior vice president of sales for Star CruisesAccording to Michael Goh, senior vice president of sales for Star Cruises, Asian passengers prefer short cruises, due to limited vacation time and wanting to take multiple holidays per year.

“In general Asian passengers have between seven and 21 days of holiday time, and like to take two to three holidays per year,” Goh said, noting Star’s various short cruise programs, starting at two nights.

A growing middle class across Asia could lead to 100 million outbound tourists from China, 16 million from India, 4 million from the Philippines and 500,000 from Indonesia, added Goh.

“These are just a few examples and you can see the great potential of where the business can come from,” Goh explained.

Positioned to take advantage of a growing Chinese cruise market is Star’s seasonal deployment from Sanya, in China. The company is adding a second ship for Sanya sailings, the SuperStar Gemini, following a $50 refurbishment, and Goh said Sanya was geographically positioned for interesting itineraries to Vietnam.

However, some Chinese still think ship means “cargo ship,” Goh explained, but said as more operators head into the Chinese market, the industry will be able to educate the consumers and also travel agents.

There is also the high-net worth individual in Asia, a population segment growing quickly in Asia, Goh noted.

Thus, Asia could become a key source market for the industry in the next five to 10 years, with stable economies and growing worth in China, India, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.

Star has succeeded in sourcing through a number of sales channels, Goh said, starting with travel agents, agency websites, B2C, B2B, B2B2C and social networking.

“Social networking has become an important marketing tool,” he explained, talking at the Cruise Shipping Asia-Pacific conference and trade show in Singapore. “There is a boom in travel retail in China and India, going up 16 and 18 percent respectively.”

A lot of consumers go online and those customers are converted into business, with Goh pointing to increased bookings from the internet and pointing to mobile as a “very interesting platform.”