Regional Director, Alvin Materi, Remarks the Current Circumstances involving COVID-19 are Unprecedented
17 February, 2020
Just over a month ago, our in-country teams at Cruise Asia by Destination Asia were busy preparing for their biggest-ever cruise season. We had completed our staff health and safety training, finished supplier checks, and provided our guides with our annual customer service training. But then, a respiratory virus that originated in Wuhan, China – now named COVID-19 – appeared and changed everything. Suddenly today we find our industry in a critical situation unlike anything we’ve experienced before.
As of today, there are 11 ships based in the China region that are being held out of service due to COVID-19 concerns, as well as two quarantined ships with confirmed cases of the virus on board. Given the highly fluid and unpredictable changes seen in the past couple of weeks in travel restrictions and port operations that could affect itineraries, multiple cruise lines have cancelled future sailings well in into April and May as well as entire Asia-region seasons. We expect more major deployment announcements to come as we are aware of a number of cruise lines that have booked port space for ships that were previously scheduled to be sailing in Asia.
The full impact of COVID-19 on cruising will not be known for some time. Unlike previous outbreaks – such as swine flu in 2009 in Hong Kong and SARS in 2003 in China which had little impact on the industry – China now accounts for 7.6% of the global cruise industry market by capacity thanks to unprecedented growth and serviced by multiple large and mega-sized ships, none of which were deployed in Asia last time we faced a situation like this.
At Cruise Asia by Destination Asia, we are communicating with our clients on a round-the-clock basis and doing our utmost in such a fluid situation. For continued updates on the novel coronavirus and our response to what is happening on the ground in real-time, please be sure to follow: https://news.destination-asia.com/coronavirus-health-advisory/