MICE and incentive travel at sea are set to be new business opportunities in Hong Kong with the new High Speed Rail (HSR) connecting Mainland China to the island and its cruise ports.
Throughout the whole of last month, Dream Cruises welcomed over 1,000 guests who arrived in Hong Kong by HSR for a two-night weekend cruise on board World Dream, the cruise line's latest megaship.
Dream Cruises had promoted its High Speed Rail fare rebate programme in August, in collaboration with the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB). The first 1,000 rail-cruise passengers would receive an instant rebate of up to RMB400 per cabin, and the programme hit its quota within the first two weeks.
Most travellers were from inland cities like Changsha, Guiyang, Wuhan, Nanning, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. While many of the them were travelling for leisure, taking advantage of the rail-cruise bundles, there were also others who were travelling in corporate groups, including a group of 80 advertising delegates from Changsha who were on the ship for a team-building event.
According to Ms Wang who planned the trip for her colleagues, the three-hour journey by train from the mainland to Hong Kong, and subsequent coach ride from the West Kowloon terminal to Kai Tak Cruise Terminal (KTCT), were immensely convenient.
"I think it was great to have the company trip on the cruise ship because there is so much do to on board. When we had team-building events in a hotel it was just the meeting, eating and sleeping in the same venue. But there are more fun things to do on the cruise ship."
They also had time for some shopping and sightseeing in Hong Kong before boarding the train back home.
"We are very excited about the new rail-cruise opportunities that the High Speed Rail (Hong Kong section) brings to the city, especially in the advancement in connectivity between inland cities of China, which drives the development of cruise industry in Hong Kong," said Thatcher Brown, president of Dream Cruises.
"Rail-cruise guests from Mainland China can now come to Hong Kong for a short weekend getaway of cruise vacation and freestyle travel in Hong Kong, with an unprecedented level of convenience and comfort."
"The HKTB is delighted to join forces with Dream Cruises to launch the "HSR + Cruise" product which not only helps attract more visitors to Hong Kong, but also encourages them to start their cruise journey here," said Anthony Lau, executive director at HKTB. "The HKTB will continue to work with the travel trade to introduce more innovative and unique tourism products to entice more overnight visitors."
In anticipation of a surge in passenger traffic, Hong Kong plans to further improve the cruising experience with the launch of the first in-town check-in at West Kowloon station in Q1 2019. Cruise guests will be able to drop their luggage at the station and take some time to do sightseeing in the city before embarking from KTCT.