The British cruise industry continued to grow strongly in 2012 creating more employment opportunities and increasing its economic contribution to the UK, according to a report released today by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
The cruise industry's direct expenditure in the UK last year was £2.49 billion - an increase of 3.7 per cent on 2011. The industry's contribution to the economies of Europe was also up - 3.4 per cent to £13.15 billion - with the UK economy one of the top three recipients, after Italy and Germany.
The overall contribution of the cruise industry, including indirect expenditure, to the European economy grew 2.9 per cent to £32.19 billion.
Figures show that the UK also remains Europe's biggest cruise market with a total share of passenger numbers of 27.7 per cent in 2012, during which time more than 1.7 million British holidaymakers took a cruise. European passenger numbers totalled 6.1 million and the global figure was 20.9 million passengers.
Southampton's importance to the European cruise market also increased with more than 1.5 million holidaymakers either joining or leaving their cruise in 2012, making Southampton Europe's largest embarkation and disembarkation port. More than 11,000 jobs across the South-East of England are supported by the port and each cruise ship turnaround is estimated to contribute around £2.5 million to the local economy.
Southampton is one of 19 ports in the UK and Ireland that now offer cruise ship departures.
The number of British jobs supported by the cruise industry continued to grow too with 66,059 people employed - an increase of 2,000 jobs or 3.5 per cent, and now representing 20 per cent of the total number of jobs the industry provides Europe-wide.
"Europe and the UK are essential part of the vibrant, dynamic and growing global industry that is today's cruise industry," said Christine Duffy, president and CEO of CLIA. "Over 20 million passengers each year enjoy cruising, which is one of the safest, most affordable and memorable vacation experiences available today."
"Despite the global economic crisis, the cruising industry continues to show steady growth. The number of people who chose a cruise holiday in Europe has more than doubled in the past decade to over 5.7 million; the sector attracted almost a million passengers from outside Europe. As a result it generates employment for more than 326,000 people across Europe, up from 315,500 last year. These impressive figures clearly show the social and economic importance of the cruise sector to Europe as a whole," said Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, CLIA Europe Chairman.
Andy Harmer, Director of CLIA UK & Ireland, said: "These figures demonstrate the continued and growing strength of the British cruise market. They highlight the confidence that consumers have in the quality, value, high service standards and levels of safety provided on a cruise holiday.
"The cruise industry is a significant growth vehicle for the UK economy, contributing more in expenditure and jobs each year, despite the on-going economic challenges in this country and the wider European marketplace."