SYDNEY, Oct. 5 (Xinhua) -- Cruise ship season in Australia, which starts in the first weekend of October, will see a 52 percent increase for the period in the arrival of luxury boutique cruise ships, officials said on Friday.
New South Wales (NSW) minister for roads, maritime and freight Melinda Pavey said the central focus of the increase will be Sydney Harbor, which has emerged as the country's premier cruise destination, with many ships docking in world famous Circular Quay - nestled between the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House.
"Sydney Harbor is regarded as one of the most beautiful and iconic natural harbors in the world, with more than 240 km of shoreline, punctuated by unspoiled beaches, picturesque gardens and pockets of natural bush," managing director of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia and Asia Joel Katz told Xinhua.
The destination has become so popular that state government officials are seeking to expand stopovers to include regional destinations as well.
NSW is poised to welcome 344 cruise ships throughout the season, bearing a combined 1.5 million passengers, of which, an ever increasing number will be from Asia - and a majority of those will be from China.
According to CLIA, Asia accounted for about 15 percent of total global ocean passenger volume in 2017, of which China maintained its dominance as a key source market, accounting for almost 60 percent of all Asian passengers.
"Cruising is continuing to grow in popularity as cruise lines continue to deploy significant capacity in the Asia region, including brand new, large cruise ships purpose-built for Chinese consumers," Katz said.
"There will be a broader variety of cruise products with significant increases in large as well as small upscale ships deployed in Asia."
Katz said in total there will be over 7,100 port calls in Asia with Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia expected to receive the most number of cruises.