The rise of the European cruise has hit an all-time high, according to a new report from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). While we certainly need no convincing about the steadily growing power of cruise and the lucrative opportunities this sector holds for travel companies, it's still interesting to see the figures set out in black and white.
The research demonstrated that the European cruise sector generated a hefty £32.2 billion contribution towards the continent's economy last year with a 1.8% revenue rise up from the previous year. This significant financial impact is, according to CLIA, a clear indication that the European cruise industry is floating along at an all-time high.
There are a number of factors that have contributed to the overall strength of the sector. One area is revenue growth which has come hand-in-hand with the creation of more than 10,000 new jobs. Cruise and cruise-related businesses now command an employee base of more than 360,000 - an increase of 3% since 2014.
Another area is investment with direct spending rising 1.7% from 2014 to £13.4 billion in Europe and additional spending on shipyards vessel construction and refurbishment rising 1.2% to £3.6 billion.
A third area involved in the study was the growing number of European passengers expressing an interest in cruise holidays. Last year, the total number of European sea cruise holiday-makers hit 6.59 million whilst the total amount of embarkations rose by a significant 4.6% to 6.12 million. Additionally, the 31 million cruise passengers adding on a stay in a European port city as part of their experience, had the added benefit of boosting business across the continent.
In fact, further research from CLIA revealed that the cruise industry is now worth £2.58 billion per year to the UK economy alone. This direct contribution has grown by 3.3% and includes elements such as goods and services bought by cruise lines as well as the wages of their employees. The success of cruise has also led to a boost in visitors to British port towns - over one million UK and international passengers visited a British port in cruise last year. This figure has almost doubled over the previous six years.
It is now more apparent than ever that cruise, once considered a travel niche, is now a central player within the travel industry. And this growth is unlikely to slow any time soon.
Andy Harmer, CLIA Europe VP Operations, commented: "The success of the global cruise industry is set to continue with 50 ships scheduled for delivery between now and 2019, of which 48 will be constructed in Europe... The ability to maintain continued growth has been the result of decisive investments by cruise operators in innovation and constant improvement."
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