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European cruise industry's contribution rises to record level

The strong growth of the European cruise industry has continued despite the global economic slowdown, show figures revealed today by the European Cruise Council (ECC). The total contribution of the global cruise industry to the European economy rose to a record €36.7 billion in 2011 (from €35.2 billion in 2010), up 54% from 2006.

European shipyards, which build most of the world’s state-of-the-art cruise liners, are among the most immediate beneficiaries of the cruise industry’s growth, delivering 24 new ships to global cruise-lines with a combined capacity of 67,000 passengers and worth a total of over €12 billion, over the five year period 2012 to 2016, according to the ECC report.

Europe is also a major destination for cruise passengers and ships from around the world, attracting substantial tourism investment and spending. Around 5.6 million passengers embarked on their cruise from a European port last year, a 7.1% increase over 2010. Of these about 0.8 million came from outside Europe. The industry generated jobs for over 315,000 people across Europe, up from 308,000 the year before. The manufacturing sector, led by the shipyards themselves, accounted for 46% of the cruise industry’s direct expenditure, 23% of the jobs generated, and 32% of the direct employee compensation.

“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 5.6 million; the sector attracted almost a million passengers from outside Europe. As a result it generates employment for more than 315,000 people across Europe, up from 308,000 last year.These impressive figures clearly show the social and economic importance of the cruise sector to Europe as a whole” said Michael Thamm, Member of the ECC Executive and President of AIDA Cruises.

After the tragic events in January off Giglio in Italy, the world's cruise industry moved swiftly to review and improve operational safety measures, and to reassure customers that cruising is a safe and enjoyable holiday. Although it is too soon to give industry-wide data for booking trends so far this year, the industry is well positioned to continue its growth, according to Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, Chairman of the ECC.

However, Mr. Lefebvre d'Ovidio warned that the industry faces a number of serious obstacles in the years ahead. "Our challenges today 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 continues.” He concluded: “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.”


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