S.Korea PM seeks to boost cruise industry

South Korea’s Prime Minister Chung Hong-won has urged the country’s parliament to pass 14 pending motions aimed at boosting the economy, including one for promoting the cruise business.
The bill, initiated by President Park Geun-hye, would expand ports and marina facilities, provide tax relief for tour operators and provide state support to increase the workforce. The bill would also allow Korean-owned vessels to have foreigner-only casinos, local media reported.
Local cruise liner Harmony Cruise, with a 1,000-passenger capacity, launched in 2012, but went bankrupt at the end of last year, allegedly due to its failure to get a license for onboard casinos.
The report cited an official from the PM’s office as saying allowing onboard casinos would be crucial to the health of the industry, pointing to Malaysian figures showing that about 30 percent to 40 percent of on board sales come from the casino.
Asia’s cruise industry is expected to treble in size by 2020, with an onboard gambling component seen as a crucial offering to attract Chinese tourists.
The Asian Cruise Association estimates that the overall Asian market could expand from 1.3 million passengers in 2012 to 3.8 million in 2020, including 1.6 million from China.
Between 2008 and 2013, capacity in the Asian cruise industry has increased 302 percent, according to a report from Credit Suisse.