(Dec 9): The world’s biggest cruise-ports operator is looking to expand in Southeast Asia, a budding hotspot for Chinese voyagers that could eventually rival the Caribbean and Mediterranean.

Global Ports Holding wants to acquire docks in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam to add more destinations for cruises based out of Singapore, currently the company’s sole Asian port and the continent’s second-biggest embarkation point, Chief Executive Officer Emre Sayin said in an interview.

Demand for cruising, once confined largely to retirees, is outpacing the rest of the leisure sector as keener prices and a wider range of stopoffs and activities broaden its appeal. A growing middle class has led the number of Chinese tourists taking to the seas to triple in four years, putting the country on course to overtake the US as the world’s biggest cruise market by 2030.

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