▲ Photo courtesy Asia Cruise Forum Jeju 2015 Organizing Committee
Jeju Tourism Organization president Choi Kab-Yeol believes that few other forms of tourism are as beneficial for the island as cruise tourism. With around a quarter of the 2.1 million foreign tourists reaching Jeju in 2014 being cruise tourists, he believes the figures speak for themselves.
“Cruise tourism, unlike other tour commodities, is a convergence and integrated industry with a wider ripple effect,” he said, adding that its benefits range from keelage and the use of local products, to increased use of taxis, tour guides and onshore consumption.
The world cruise market has grown around 10 percent a year since 2000, but cruise tourists to Jeju are accelerating even faster. There was a jump from almost 65,000 in 2011 to over 380,000 in 2013, and then to around 580,000 in 2014.
Choi points to the fact that the island is located in the middle of Northeast Asia, where the fastest growth is occurring. The industry predicts that by 2020 there will be 7 million Asian cruise tourists, one in five of global cruise passengers, up from the current one in 10.
China is of course the main source of this growth and with Jeju on its doorstep — there is just 500km of ocean separating it from the most populous city in the world, Shanghai — growth for the local cruise industry seems inevitable.
This has increased pressure on authorities to improve facilities and work is ongoing in Jeju City and Seogwipo City. Within two years, two ships of 150,000 tons will be able to simultaneously dock at Gangjeong Civilian-Military Complex Port, extending Jeju’s capacity to 10,000 cruise visitors daily.
In the meantime, Jeju Tourism Organization is working hard to improve services for individual tourists to maximize cruise satisfaction and Choi believes that in five years Jeju will be “the best cruise tourist-friendly port in Asia with abundant tour resources, infrastructure, and a warm welcome.”
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