Cruise passenger traffic in Singapore down 52 percent hinh anh 1Royal Caribbean International cruise ship Spectrum of the Seas (Photo: AFP)

Singapore (VNA) - Cruise passenger traffic in Singapore has fallen by 52 percent year-on-year since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said.

According to STB Director Annie Chang, from January 23 to March 9, Singapore handled a total of only 65 cruise calls and 156,465 passengers. Meanwhile, it received 81 COVID-19 related cancelled ship calls.

As the number of imported cases swelled, Singapore has stopped cruise visits since March 13.

With countries implementing travel and port restrictions to curb the outbreak, cruise operators around the world have been forced to cancel or change their itineraries.

Costa said it would cancel all cruises worldwide until April 3 to protect the health and safety of guests and those in their destinations. Carnival's Princess Cruises, which runs the Diamond Princess, is doing the same until May 10.

The US-based Royal Caribbean, one of the world’s largest cruise operators, has cancelled all cruises departing Singapore until May and recently announced it would suspend US cruises for 30 days.

Chan Brothers Travel, which books cruises from Singapore and abroad, said it expects business to drop by at least 30 percent for the next three months, including the busy travel season in June.

Singapore’s decision to stop cruise calls will contribute to a loss in tourism arrival numbers and receipts, senior manager at Nanyang Polytechnic’s (NYP) School of Business Management Shirley Tee said.

STB’s Chang said the agency will offer enhanced support to industry players that have committed to partnerships under the Cruise Development Fund.

The fund supports companies like cruise operators, travel agents and trainers in activities designed to boost demand for cruises from Singapore.

Nevertheless, Chang said Singapore’s cruise industry is also in a good position to recover due to many years of good growth, pointing to how passenger traffic had from 2015 to 2019 grown at a compounded annual rate of 15.6 percent.

In 2018, the industry contributed 1.87 million passengers from 401 port calls, a 35 percent jump from the year before./.