Proof that cruise holidays are a big earner for the UK economy comes in the latest set of statistics issued by the European Cruise Council. The industry generated direct expenditure of £2.28 billion in Britain last year, an increase of 10.2 per cent on 2010.
The European total was £12.1 billion, up 3.3 per cent. The UK spend is second to Italy, and only in France is cruise business growing faster.
The number of UK holidaymakers who took a cruise in 2011 increased by almost 11 per cent to 1.7 million; total European numbers rose by nine per cent to 6.2 million. Around the world, the total was 20.6 million passengers.
The UK cruise industry provides employment for 63,834 people, of whom 14,486 work directly for cruise lines.
The dominance of Southampton as the UK’s premier cruise port was demonstrated by the fact that 1.5 million cruise passengers passed through its dock gates. The city now ranks second only to Venice in terms of passenger numbers. Every ship visit brings an average of £2.5 million in business to the city’s economy, with the region benefitting by £300 million a year.
ECC executive member David Dingle, who is chief executive of Carnival UK said: “Despite these challenging times the cruise industry is making an increasingly significant contribution to the British economy and that of mainland Europe by creating jobs and acting as a catalyst for tourism.”
“Booking volumes in the UK understandably paused after the
“And next year we will see more ships deployed in UK ports which we believe is testimony to the continued confidence in the UK as the world’s second largest source market for the cruise industry.”
Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, chairman of the ECC and chairman of Silversea Cruises, added: “Our challenges in Europe include not just the economic crisis, but also issues such as political uncertainty and rising fuel costs. There must be a combined effort by industry and regulators to overcome these issues in order that the steady growth the sector has experienced over the last decade should continue.
“Despite this challenging environment, the cruise industry remains resilient and there are good reasons to believe that we will come through this period of uncertainty in a strong position.”
Total passenger capacity of cruise ships sailing in European waters this year is estimated to be about 5.7 million. Whether the cruise lines are able to fill those berths at profitable fares will not be seen until they report their annual earnings.
Travel industry consultant David Selby, formerly managing director of Thomson Cruises, says he has never before experienced cruise fares as low as they are this year. Now MD of Travelyields, he said many passengers were waiting for late deals before making their bookings. “If the market was better, the deals would not be there,” he added.