The Jakarta Post
US-based cruise line Royal Caribbean International still expects double-digit growth in the number of Indonesian passengers next year, despite the volatility of the rupiah against the US dollar, which can have an effect on the business.
'We have seen significant growth in the past, and as more ships are coming on, we expect to book 10,000 passengers next year,' Royal Caribbean International managing director for Singapore and Southeast Asia Sean Treacy told a recent press briefing.
The line recorded 5,500 Indonesian passengers on its ships last year. It has seen annual growth of at least 5 percent in Indonesian passenger numbers since 2013.
Most of the Indonesian passengers board the ships at Singapore, with favorite itineraries including trips to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Phuket, Thailand, according to Treacy.
Treacy added that Indonesia remained the second-biggest market after China globally, even though the passengers still had to go to Singapore to join their cruises as no ship embarked in Indonesia yet despite the ease in government regulations on cruise ships.
The Transportation Ministry recently issued a ministerial regulation that finally allowed foreign cruise ships to pick up and drop off tourists in selected Indonesian ports, such as Tanjung Priok, Jakarta, and Belawan, North Sumatra in a bid to boost the tourism sector.
However, Treacy said that so far, the infrastructure of the ports had not been sufficient for the company's cruise ships to drop anchor in those ports.
'The government continues to invest in infrastructure but it's going to take some time,' he said.
So far, the cruise ships that stop at Southeast Asia's largest economy are smaller ships such as those of the Azamara Club Cruises line, a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean, which can only cater to around 600 passengers and have stopped at Benoa Port, Bali and Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.
The company is also pinning its hopes on its upcoming ship, Ovation of the Seas, which would add to the line-up of 31 ships the company currently has. The Ovation is due to start sailing in Singapore next year, bound for Tianjin, China.
Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean Indonesian representative marketing manager Andi S. Indana said that even though the company had seen a decline in sales during the time when the rupiah weakened, it had focused on its cooperation with travel agents all across Indonesia as well as holding promotional sales.
'We just expect the government to stabilize the currency,' he added.
The rupiah rose by 8 percent throughout last week against the US dollar after slumping over 15 percent to become the region's second-worst performing currency. The currency is now at around Rp 13,500 per dollar, still lower than Rp 12,545 in the beginning of the year, making it more expensive for locals to travel abroad.
However, demand remains strong as so far this year Royal Caribbean's Indonesian business has recorded around 3,000 passengers from January to October.
'Then there are the 200 to 300 Indonesian passengers who have already booked for our cruises on the Christmas and New Year Eve sailings, and a total of 2,000 bookings until December,' Andi said.
The New Year itinerary costs US$1,200 per person per night while the Christmas itinerary has a $900 fare per person per night.
Andi said that the growth in the Indonesian market was driven by increasing popular awareness of cruise ships.
'People have started to see that the price of cruises, even though they are still seen as a luxury, are actually quite reasonable,' Andi said. (fsu)
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