Govt in talks on domestic cruise SOPs

Matta has been working closely with industry partners like Costa Crociere’s Singapore office and Motac to kick-start domestic cruises

by TMR / pic by BLOOMBERG

THE government is currently discussing the standard operating procedures (SOP) for domestic cruise in a bid to revive the ailing tourism sector.

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said the association has been working closely with industry partners like Costa Crociere SpA’s Singapore office and the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) to kick-start domestic cruises.

Similar cruise products have already been launched in countries like Singapore and the UK where the two countries have been providing much-needed stimulus to their economies.

“Matta has long recognised the immense potential of the cruise industry which benefits not only travel agencies but also hotels, the aviation sector, theme parks, attractions, retail and many other tourism-related industries.

“A single ship, like the Costa Venezia, with a capacity of 5,000 passengers can generate revenue of up to RM60 million.

“In addition to that, domestic cruises, especially during these trying times, have the potential to generate thousands of jobs almost immediately especially in port cities like Kuala Lumpur (KL), Penang, Langkawi and Melaka,” Tan said.

Matta honorary secretary general Nigel Wong said the association has been engaging the relevant ministries for years, not just on the implementation of domestic cruises as a quick-win solution but more importantly the benefits of having Malaysia recognised as a home-port destination.

“We already have the necessary infrastructure and manpower in place to service this emerging and very profitable sector.

“The long-term benefits of having home-port status are immense, especially since Malaysia is recognised worldwide as a very modern and progressive Muslim-friendly destination.

“Tourists from all over the globe will fly into Malaysia to embark on their cruise holiday and, in the process, will very likely extend their stay in Malaysia.

“We would like to commend the government in its efforts to open up this industry, and Matta will continue to spearhead this effort and work closely with all relevant ministries to make this dream a reality,” Wong said.

In November last year, The Malaysian Reserve reported that Malaysia was planning to launch a domestic cruise travel without a port of call — the “cruise to nowhere” — to revive its cruise industry and break the long hiatus following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Port Klang Authority GM Captain K Subramaniam said the proposal to restart the cruise tourism had been submitted to Putrajaya in September 2020, but the Health Ministry had some reservations about it then.

The reservation came from new Covid-19 transmissions that started to surge in September, after the country had managed to stay at single-digit figures since late June, Subramaniam said.

Cruise companies often schedule “cruise to nowhere” trips to fill the gaps in their long routes.

Its short journey offers a roundtrip itinerary with no ports of call, except for the passengers’ disembarkation terminal.

Read our previous report here

Malaysia’s ‘cruise to nowhere’ plan hits standstill