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Taiwan, Hong Kong to partner on cruise travel

TAIPEI -- Tourism authorities from Taiwan and Hong Kong announced a joint program Thursday that will promote cruise travel in light of the rapidly expanding Asia market.

Through the world's first-ever “Asia Cruise Fund,” Taiwan's Tourism Bureau and the Hong Kong Tourism Board are hoping to develop cruise tourism in the region, bureau deputy head Wayne Liu said during the Cruise Shipping Miami 2014 trade show, where the partnership was announced.

Initiated by both sides, the fund collected from participating ports in Asia will be used to subsidize market promotion for cruise liners plying the region, Liu said.

“Taiwan and Hong Kong will invite more Asian countries and territories to take part in the project to improve our market competitiveness in the region,” Liu said.

Anthony Lau, executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, said the fund is an important step toward tapping regional cooperation in cruise liner tourism.

“The fund will be the key for cruise tourism to developing in the upcoming 10 years in Asia,” Lau said.

The fund, which will take effect April 1 for a three-year period, requires that cruise companies make stops in at least two participating ports or territories in a single itinerary in order to get the subsidy.

In 2013, seaports around Taiwan served 992,000 passengers, a rise of 41.8 percent from the previous year, according to statistics from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

The high growth was partly attributed to a 45.4 percent increase in the number of cruise travelers visiting Taiwanese ports, which totaled 390,000 last year, it said.

According to the bureau, the size of Taiwan's cruise tourism market could grow by at least 50 percent this year. In addition to Asia, the bureau said it hopes to tap into cruise travel market in Europe and Middle East following increasing publicity of Taiwan as a friendly tourist destination.

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