October 27, 2022 — The 2022 Post-pandemic Cruise Industry Recovery and Development Forum commenced today (9/13) on the second floor of the Keelung Port East Passenger Terminal. The forum, organized by the Maritime and Port Bureau (MPB) of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), is co-hosted by the Tourism Bureau, Taiwan International Ports Corporation, Ltd., Keelung City Government, and Kaohsiung City Government and executed by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) of Taiwan. Deputy Minister Chi Wen-Jong of the MOTC, Mayor Lin Yu-Chang of Keelung City, Secretary-General Kuo Tien-Kuei of Kaohsiung City Government, Legislators Tsai Shih-Ying, Hung Mong-Kai and Chen Jiau-Hua of the Legislative Yuan as well as other distinguished guests were present to give remarks. The main theme of the forum is to prepare Taiwan for post-pandemic cruise industry recovery and local tourism development. Renowned experts of the global cruise industry from Australia, the Philippines, Japan, and South Korea have been invited to give keynote speeches during the forum, which is attended by over 150 members of industry, government and academia in the cruise-related sectors of Taiwan and abroad. It is also hoped that the forum facilitates joint discussion of future prospects in reviving the cruise industry. It is also hoped to provide Taiwan with policy references for making early preparations to welcome visitors travelling to Taiwan on international cruise ships.

In his address, Deputy Minister Chi Wen-Jong indicated that being the second largest visitor source in Asia’s cruise market, Taiwan previously admitted around 600 international cruise ships docking at its harbors annually before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the 1.06 million passengers boarding, 90% of voyages and 80% of travelers embark at Keelung Port, with Kaohsiung Port coming in at second place in terms of cruise passenger numbers. As the cruise terminals at Keelung and Kaohsiung ports have been successively completed this year, we are now fully prepared in terms of port infrastructure. Director-General Yeh, Hsieh-Lung of the MPB also stated in his speech that cruises in regions such as the EU, the U.S. and Australia are starting to resume service as vaccine coverage is continuing to rise globally and the pandemic is gradually easing.. As such, one major purpose of holding this forum is to draw on the experience of nations in preparing ourselves for reviving international cruise tourism in the post-pandemic era.

As the MPB indicates, topics discussed in this forum include four major aspects: post-pandemic cruise homeport development, island-hopping cruises, regional integration, and capacity building. The foremost issues are to establish epidemic prevention management measures for the post-pandemic cruise market, and to rebuild confidence in Asia’s cruise industry and market. In the second keynote speech, examples on how island-hopping cruises have been successfully established for voyages in the Mediterranean Sea, the Caribbean, Japan and other countries were given. Also, comprehensive schemes for setting up similar modes of operation were recommended while taking into consideration Taiwan’s offshore island tourism resources, cruise types, transportation and shuttle services, and mitigating the impact tourism travel has on island ecosystems. In the third speech and discussion, speaker and panelists engaged in profound conversations on establishing international cruise industry supply chains and the possibility of regional collaboration. They then exchanged opinions on multiple issues including hotel accommodations required by the cruise industry, entertainment, marketing, shipping agencies, port management and supply as well as capacity building such as tour guides and conductors.

The MPB explains that the forum has been specially entrusted to the Cruise Lines International Association for execution as its expertise and extensive connections provide the opportunity to invite heavyweight speakers from domestic and foreign cruise industries. Apart from the strong line-up of the invited speakers, the panelists are also highly distinguished experts, including the Department Chief at the Philippines Department of Tourism – Taiwan Office, Deputy Chief at the Taipei Office of the Korea Tourism Organization, Representative at the Marketing Representative Office in Taipei of the Singapore Tourism Board, President and Vice President of the Association of National Tourism Office Representatives (ANTOR) in Taiwan, and President of the Port of Keelung Taiwan International Ports Corporation. Representatives from cruise operators include those of Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises and Ponant, while members of the academia include the Dean of the College of Tourism, Chung Hua University. Students pursuing degrees in cruise services have also been invited to share their learning outcomes to extend the depth, breadth and influence of the forum. Apart from domestic and foreign businesses, guilds and associations in the cruise and tourism sectors, the regional tourism units of Keelung, Kinmen, Penghu and Lienchiang also participated in the forum, adding greatly to the diversity and liveliness of the event as well as the level of engagement between speakers and audience.

To prepare in advance for post-pandemic international cruise tourism, the MPB is currently organizing the Asia Archipelago Cruise Alliance (AACA). Its aim is to integrate resources including local governments along the East Asia island chain, port management, tourism departments, and cruise-related associations. The purpose of the alliance is to jointly market destination port services along the Asia island chain, enhance the reputation of the Pacific route, and inspire international cruise operators to establish new routes to and from Taiwan so as to create a new blue ocean for Taiwan’s ocean tourism.