AsiaMaritime CEO

V.Ships Leisure: The Asian cruise conundrum

Monaco: Maritime CEO finds itself amid myriad gin palaces today in sunny Monaco, but mainly discussing Asia. Andrea Zito is the genial ceo of V.Group subsidiary, V.Ships Leisure, which claims to be the largest supplier of management and outsourcing services to the maritime leisure industry. More than 200 shore-based and 7,000 seagoing staff provide services to more than 140 cruise vessels, ferries and super yachts.
Zito is talking to Maritime CEO predominantly about Asia in the wake of the launch of our new sister title, Asia Cruise News which was launched last month.
V.Ships Leisure has been in Asia for 25 years. Its background in the region includes managing trips to North Korea for an offshoot of Hyundai Merchant Marine as well as managing what Zito describes as “gambling vessels” from Hong Kong and Singapore.
V.Ships Leisure also got involved with new Asian cruise start ups such as Harmony Cruises from Korea and HNA from China, neither of which has fared well and for Zito, a cruise veteran, here he has some advice for the many Asians mulling entering the cruise business.
“What we have seen with Asian entrepreneurs is that they buy an asset and then they hope that everything falls in place by miracle and instead the cruise business requires a lot of planning, project planning and evaluation rather than jumping into action mode immediately,” he suggests, adding, “It takes an incubation period.”
Zito is convinced the cruise business in Asia will become very big, but, right now, it is not yet mature.
“Patience, planning and capital is required,” he says.
International lines targeting Asia have got it wrong in general by deploying older tonnage.
“Asians are used to having everything new,” he points out.
V.Ships Leisure is cooperating with a couple of sizeable ventures in China at present, although Zito is not allowed to say with whom.
China in particular has attracted much comment on its cruise potential, and while Zito can see the sector taking off there, it will still take some time.
“Fundamentally, it is a question of demographics,” he says. “The cruise business is aimed at affluent people with a lot of time, namely retired people. The Chinese have very little holidays and they are very dynamic people. For cruises out of China ships need to be built for the Chinese market where the ship is the destination.”
Concluding, Zito predicts: “We will see a boom when an Asian entrepreneur properly enters the market with an Asian brand in Asia.”  [04/03/13]
For the latest on the Asian Cruise market, visit new ASM website

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