Singapore eyes Asia cruise market with new terminal

Singapore says it received nearly a million cruise passengers last year.—Picture by Leonardo Viti/shutterstock.comSingapore says it received nearly a million cruise passengers last year.—Picture by Leonardo Viti/shutterstock.comSINGAPORE, May 23 — A multi-million-dollar cruise terminal capable of accommodating the world’s largest luxury cruise liners will start operating this weekend, officials said yesterday.

The opening of the Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore will allow the city-state to tap Asia’s growing cruise industry, they said, while it will also provide thousands of new jobs.

On Saturday, the S$500 million (RM1.2 billion) terminal will welcome its first ship — the Royal Caribbean International’s 138,000-tonne Voyager of the Seas luxury liner.

With a capacity of 3,840 passengers and 1,176 crew, the vessel will be the largest of its kind to dock in Singapore, terminal operator SATS-Creuers Cruise Services said in a statement.

This will “pave the way for the newer generation of larger cruise liners to dock in Singapore and Asia, including Oasis-Class ships,” it said, referring to the world’s largest passenger liners.

Situated at the edge of Singapore’s waterfront downtown district, the ultra-modern terminal is expected to latch onto the city’s booming tourism industry, which benefited from double digit growth in visitor arrivals to 13.2 million last year.

Tourism receipts came in at S$22.3 billion last year, up 18 per cent from 2010.

Singapore’s tourism authorities said it received close to one million cruise passengers in 2011, generating S$520 million in direct spending.

“Singapore’s strategic location coupled with the terminal’s state-of-the-art facilities and proximity to the city and Singapore Changi Airport will anchor the country’s position as Asia’s leading cruise hub,” said Melvin Vu, chief executive of SATS-Creuers Cruise Services.

The terminal will be operated by a joint venture between Singapore Airport Terminal Services and Europe’s Creuers del Port de Barcelona.

Singapore’s second minister for trade and industry S. Iswaran said during a media tour of the facility yesterday the terminal’s opening would create 3,000 jobs and other spin-off benefits.

“The hotels also stand to benefit to the extent that we become a turnaround cruise port... where people come to Singapore in order to board the cruise ship or to disembark in Singapore before going home,” Iswaran added.

Other cruise operators such as Florida-based Celebrity Cruises and Italy’s Costa Cruises are also scheduled to start deploying liners to the city-state in the next two years. — AFP/Relaxnews


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