|▲ Kim Eui-Keun, Chairman of the 2014 Asia Cruise Forum Jeju Organizing Committee. Photo courtesy Kim Eui-Keun
“Asia will be the center of the cruise industry in the future and Jeju is perfectly placed to be pivotal to this growth,” said Kim Eui-Keun, Chairman of the 2014 Asia Cruise Forum Jeju Organizing Committee.
Kim’s confidence is founded on experience. He was first introduced to the Jeju cruise industry nine years ago and even then he saw that it had a bright future. He is now a professor at Jeju International University in the Department of Tourism Management and his vision for the industry is farsighted and backed by statistics.
“In 2011, 65,000 cruise passengers came to Jeju and by 2012 the number was 140,000. By 2013 the number rose to 360,000 and by 2014 it is projected to be 500,000. This rapid growth means passengers are inexorably increasing,” said Kim.
To manage this growth and prestige, Kim believes events such as this are crucial to build the local brand and foster cooperation.
“Many countries are involved in the cruise trade so one country cannot accomplish this alone. We need to cooperate and work together. This forum gives us the opportunity to share our vision for the future of the industry,” he said.
The principal strength of collaboration is the ability to bring key people together, encouraging innovation and facilitating better communication within the industry. This is something Kim believes the forum can help achieve in Asia.
“Asia will be the center and countries need to cooperate to be a success. The network was the first in Asia and was set up to help promote our brand as the center of the industry,” he said. “When cruises visit countries in the region, each port needs the best facilities if we are going to lead the industry, which demands collaboration.”
Kim sees more potential in the years ahead. President Park Geun-hye had predicted that 2 million passengers would visit Korea by 2020, but Kim says this is conservative.
“There are predicted to be 7 million cruise passengers in all of Asia by 2020 and 4 million of these will be Chinese. It is expected that around half will visit Jeju. For this reason, we think the total number will be more like 2.5 million,” he said.
Kim sees the future is bright for the industry and believes this year’s forum is essential for continued industry growth.