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Two branches of CLIA established in Asia

Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) has announced the establishment of two separate branches of the organisation in Asia and named their chairpersons. Alan Lam reports.

Owing to the sizes of the region and the market, the organisation is divided into CLIA North Asia and CLIA South Asia.

The southern branch will be chaired by, Ann Sherry, Carnival Australia CEO, with Jennifer Yip, Royal Caribbean’s Managing Director Singapore and Southeast Asia, as the Secretary; Paul Chong and William Harber, Carnival Asia’s executives, have been invited to join the Board.

The northern branch will be headed by Dr. Zinan Liu,Royal Caribbean's Managing Director Asia and China. Its aim will be to focus on infrastructure, advocacy and the promotion of cruise to travel industry communities in the region.

Hong Kong Tourism Board and the Singapore Tourism Board have been named as CLIA Global Executive Partners.

"Asia ranks highly on our list of emerging cruise regions as the globalisation of the cruise industry continues to gather pace," said Duffy. "CLIA member cruise lines are already deploying more ships in Asia, opening up more destinations, and customising their onboard offerings to cater to their Asian guests."

"CLIA Southeast Asia and CLIA North Asia will have an influential voice as they work with government and private enterprise to address market needs, master trade distribution, create highly desirable itineraries and offer advice on port and infrastructure," continued Duffy.

South Korea offers visa exemption for Chinese cruise tourists

In its latest move to attract tourists from China, the South Korean government has just announced a further ease of visa requirement for Chinese visitors. Alan Lam reports.

Cruise passengers arriving at South Korean ports on the Bohai Ferry cruise vessel, Zhong Hua Tai Shan (formerly Costa Voyager), will be granted visa free visits. Only recently the country extended its visa free policy for Chinese visitors arriving by air to the popular holiday island of Jeju from 72 to 120 hours.

This policy will help ease the passage for Bohai Ferry’s cruise business in the region. Since the maiden voyage on 16 August, the company has so far operated more than a dozen cruises to South Korea.

Realising the competition building up within the cruise business in the region and recognising the importance of the Chinese source market, other countries in the region are making moves in this direction.

Indonesia for example, a country which until recently has a perceivably hostile visa policy toward Chinese visitors, is considering a visa free policy to Chinese tourists. It is also considering a so-called third country visa, whereby once a visitor has gained entry to Singapore and Malaysia will be automatically allowed to enter Indonesia. Cruise operators have welcomed this development.

Astor owner Premicon Hochseekreuzfahrt files for insolvency

Premicon Hochseekreuzfahrt GbmH & Co. KG MS Astor, which owns the 1987 built cruise liner Astor that is operated by the London based Cruise & Maritime Voyages group, has filed for insolvency at the district court of Bremen in Germany, media reports say.

This is the second German owner of a single cruise liner that runs into financial problems in a short period of time. The company that owns Deutschland, which is operated by Peter Deilmann Reederei filed into voluntary administration a few weeks ago.

The owner of the 20,606 gross ton Astor is part of the Munich based Premicon group, which sold Trans Ocean Cruises and that operates Astor in Germany, together with three river cruise vessels and a ship management company, to Cruise & Maritime Voyages earlier this year.

It is expected that Astor will continue to operate normally despite the problems at its owner company, German media reports say.

It should be noted that Cruise & Maritime Voyages is in not connected to the Premicon group and that no concerns have been expressed over the British cruise operator's finances.

Would be Jihadists have started to use cruise ships to reach Iraq, Syria - report

Interpol, the international police body said some of those trying to join militant groups in Iraq and Syria had used cruise lines to get to countries including Turkey, the BBC reports. It said checks to passenger lists should be extended from airlines to cruise operators before the issue became more of a problem.

No figures were put on how many militants had travelled in this way. Speaking in Monaco, Interpol's outgoing chief, Ronald Noble, said countries should conduct checks on all passengers using airports "and, more and more, cruise lines."

The Turkish authorities say they have deported hundreds of suspected foreign jihadists in recent months after detaining them at airports and bus stations.

Interpol's director of counterterrorism, Pierre St Hilaire, told AP news agency that this had led prospective fighters to make alternative travel arrangements in an effort to avoid detection.

"Because they know the airports are monitored more closely now, there's a use of cruise ships to travel to those areas," he said. Regular stops at ports in the region would allow prospective fighters to disembark undetected and make their onward journey to Syria or Iraq untracked by security agencies.

"There is evidence that the individuals, especially in Europe, are travelling mostly to [the Turkish coastal town of] Izmir and other places to engage in this type of activity,"St Hilaire was quoted by the BBC as saying.

Interpol officials said the militants' use of cruise ships had emerged only in the "past three months or so". A recent United Nations report estimated there were 15,000 foreign jihadists from more than 80 countries fighting with Islamic State (IS) and other extremist groups in Syria and Iraq.

"In order to prevent their travel and identify them, there needs to be greater information-sharing among the region, among national security agencies," St Hilaire said.

Norwegian plans $680 million note issue to part finance Prestige acquisition

Norwegian Cruise Line, a subsidiary of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. said it is proposing to issue $680 million aggregate principal amount of senior unsecured notes due 2019 in a private offering

“The company intends to use the net proceeds from the Offering to fund a portion of the purchase price and related fees and expenses for the previously announced acquisition of Prestige Cruises International, Inc. for $3.025 billion including assumption of debt,” Norwegian Cruise Line Holding said in a statement.

“Norwegian intends to finance the remaining portion of the Prestige acquisition, as well as to refinance Prestige's Oceania and Regent Credit Facilities and satisfy and discharge the indenture governing Prestige's Regent Senior Secured Notes using $1.05 billion of borrowings under its New Term Loan A and New Term Loan B facilities available cash and an additional share issuance. The Offering and the New Term loans are expected to close concurrently with the Prestige acquisition,” Norwegian said.

Viking Star