AGENTS are touting river cruises as the activity du jour for Asian travellers, with many looking to tap the growing demand with new initiatives.
Lim Chee Tong, managing director of Malaysia-based Jebsen Travel & Tours Services and consultant for Singapore’s Stamford Discovery Cruise Centre, said demand from Malaysia and Singapore for European river cruises had been doubling every year since 2008.
“Demand for river cruises in Europe is expected to grow further this year,” he said, citing the strong Asian currencies as a push factor. Best-selling packages are for sailings along the Danube River and the Rhine River with an extension to Volga River in Russia, he added.
Lim, whose company is the general sales agent for five river cruise lines, is currently looking for agents in South-east Asia to develop the river cruise segment. According to Lim, commissions for river cruises are much bigger – 30 to 40 per cent – compared to ocean cruises, which offer a mere 10 per cent.
Seeing potential in this growing market, Cambodia-based World Express Tours & Travel will introduce Asian river cruise itineraries by mid-year. Managing director Ho Vandy said the company will target families.