The Maritime and Port Bureau (MPB), MOTC is looking into simplifying the application procedures for the employment of Taiwanese seafarers by foreign employers. This initiative was taken in response to development trends of the cruise industry in Asia, so that citizens may successfully find work on cruise ships by making their employment more convenient for foreign cruise lines. The MPB hopes that Taiwanese seafarers will show their professionalism and hardworking spirit and become the next pride of Taiwan.
According to the 2017 Asia Cruise Trends Report of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), Asia's cruise market is booming with a 2.8 fold increase in the volume of cruise travelers from Asia and a 2.4 fold increase in the number of voyages. Cruise lines are flocking to Asia to get a piece of the pie. A total of 3.1 million Asian passengers boarded cruise ships in 2016, up 55% compared with 2015. Major cruise lines are actively building their bases in Asia and have successively selected Keelung and Kaohsiung as their home ports, offering cruises to Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia. Star Cruises, Princess Cruises Taiwan and Costa Cruises have all expressed their hopes to the MPB on numerous occasions to employ Taiwan's outstanding tourism and culinary school students, so as to raise the quality of their services.
The MPB has relaxed laws to give citizens greater opportunities to work on cruise ships. Originally, only citizens with a Service Book for Seafarers were allowed to take specialized training courses. After the law was relaxed in 2016, anyone can now attend the STCW Convention basic safety training course at their own expense. After trainees complete the training, they will receive the Service Book for Seafarers and a specialized training certificate. The law will be promulgated and take effect in November this year (2017). Ocean tourism-related departments can also submit an application to the MPB to make seafarer training a part of their curriculum, so that students can complete basic training for seafarers at school.
The MPB indicated that it will convene a meeting on amending the law on October 24, 2017. It will look into relaxing the approval procedure for the employment of Taiwanese seafarers by foreign employers (only when necessary for emergency relief, registration of seafarers and ship information), and allowing maritime, tourism and culinary schools and related associations in Taiwan to be commissioned by foreign employers to employ Taiwanese seafarers.
The MPB will continue to listen to the suggestions of related associations and members of the tourism industry, and will actively amend laws, simplify procedures, and relax restrictions to drive the cruise industry's development. The MPB will also carry out on-campus promotions to encourage citizens to become employed on international cruise ships.