There’s a huge room for the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal to improve its operations, the Audit Commission says, noting that the port received only 191 vessels last year, or 30 percent lower than what had been projected.
In its report, the commission said the cruise terminal’s usage was only 18 to 38 percent during the peak seasons from 2014 to 2016, according to the Hong Kong Economic Journal.
On cruises using Hong Kong as a transit port, the average spending per passenger dropped 37 percent to HK$2,950 in 2015, from HK$4,699 in 2013, the audit report said.
For cruise ships based in Hong Kong, per-person spending saw a slight increase of 3 percent during the period.
The commission urged the cruise terminal to rethink its management and operational methods as more than half of its retail businesses were moribund.
As of March this year, 52 percent of the shops at the cruise terminal were non-operational with faulty facilities.
Last year alone, there were 83 reports of water leakages, and 17 reports of malfunctioning lifts over the past two years.
There was also a lack of transport facilities at the terminal with over half of its taxi bays closed, causing long queues of passengers waiting for public transport.
Meanwhile, two malls were offering free shuttle services to and from the cruise terminal.
Reacting to the audit report, the Tourism Commission said usage of the cruise terminal during the 2016 peak season was 38.3 percent, comparable with the 45 percent figure reported by the Marina Bay Cruise Centre in Singapore, which opened last year.
Officials are optimistic that usage will go up to 49 percent during the peak season this year.
The Tourism Commission also said the lower spending of cruise passengers is a worldwide trend, citing falling hotel room prices as one of the factors.
A strong Hong Kong currency did not help the situation. Still, spending by cruise passengers actually went up 2 percent to HK$860 million in 2015 from the previous year, the tourism body said.
The audit report urged the Tourism Commission to conduct a review of the operations at the cruise terminal and step up efforts to attract more cruise ships to berth in Hong Kong.
The terminal could also boost its revenues by leasing out venues for non-cruise-related commercial events, the report said.
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