The cruise industry in Europe will grow in 2009, but at a slower pace than in the past three years due to the economic crisis, the European Cruise Council (ECC) predicts.
Releasing the council’s 2008 cruise industry figures at its annual conference in Rome this week, ECC chairman and chief executive officer of Carnival UK David Dingle said: “With the introduction this year of new ships dedicated to the European market we are confident of continued passenger growth, but not at such a frenetic pace.”
Last year, 21.7 million cruise passengers visited a European port, helping the industry to generate more than €32 billion in goods and services – a 69% increase on 2005 – and provide more than 311,512 jobs, 66% more than in 2005.
This is also up on the 225,586 people the council revealed were employed in the European cruise market in last year’s report.
Some 4.7 million passengers joined their cruise in Europe, an increase of 68% on 2005.
The UK was the biggest source market in Europe, contributing 1.48 million passengers in 2008, up from 1.34 million in 2007. Germany was the next biggest cruise market, with 907,000 passengers, followed by Italy with 682,000.
Spain and France contributed 497,000 and 310,000 respectively.
Italy knocked Greece off the top spot to become the most popular cruise destination in 2008, with five million cruise passenger visits, equivalent to a 23% share of the market. Greece welcomed 4.3 million cruise passengers, representing 19.6% share of the market. Spain held third position with a 16.6% share.
Dingle said the 69% increase in income generated by the cruise industry last year was “staggering”. Over the same period, total passenger spend ashore also rose 69%, to €2.7 billion.
In 2008, the average consumer spend at turnaround ports was €106, while at ports of call passengers spent an average €57.
Dingle said: “Europe has acted like a magnet, drawing ships from north America which, together with European fleets, has led to a significant increase in the number of cruise passengers joining their cruise in a European port.”
There were 192 cruise ships sailing in Europe last year, a 35% increase on 2005.