NANNING: Cruise tourism has the potential to grow and contribute substantially to the economy of Asean countries, said Port Klang Authority chairman Tan Sri Kong Cho Ha.
Malaysia, which has several international ports, is especially suitable for the industry, he added.
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Kong pointed out that tourists from China and the Asean region visiting each other had increased tremendously over the years.
In 2016, some 20 million tourists from China visited Asean countries and a record 10.34 million travellers from Asean went to China last year.
“From January to June this year, Malaysia itself has received 1.5 million tourists from China, with most travelling by air.
“But with the construction of many cruise ship terminals, we must also look at cruise tourism as a potential area for growth,” he said at the China-Asean Port Cities Cooperation Network Conference here yesterday.
The conference was held in conjunction with the 14th China-Asean Expo from Tuesday to tomorrow, and in which 171 Malaysian companies participated.
Kong also announced that the China-Malaysia Port Alliance (CMPA) – aimed at promoting technology and container processing, and reducing red tape – had expanded from the initial 16 ports in 2015 to 21 including nine Malaysian ports.
“In our recent meeting, we discussed information sharing, technology exchange, human resource training, investments, trade facilitations, safe port environment and much more to improve our services,” he revealed.
Kong, who is former transport minister, also said ports alone were not sufficient for holistic economic development, adding that a hinterland for industries, logistics hubs, and free trade zones needed to be developed to create cargo and goods for trade.
Later, Kong attended the launching ceremony of the official website of China-Asean SMEs Trade Promotion Platform.
The website castpp.org is a platform to facilitate operators of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) on cross-border trade, promotions and business-matching opportunity.