It almost goes without saying ocean cruises these days generate some pretty hefty bucks – in fact, billions of Euros annually, to be exact. And there seems little sign the continued growth of the industry, year-on-year, is in any way, shape or form likely to slow down any time soon, despite the economic hardships being experienced across the world.
Last month, the cruise industry was held up as an example of “European excellence”, with passenger numbers reportedly up by nearly 10% over the last year, and market share during the same period increasing by a staggering 30%, generating more than €35 billion worth of economic benefits.
European Cruise Council chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, speaking at the Seatrade Europe Cruise & River Cruise Convention in Hamburg, Germany, hailed the excellence of the European cruise industry in terms of growth and economic impact.
But he also appealed to industry, governments, NGOs and the public to pursue a “common objective” to help the cruise industry to continue to grow and lead the economic recovery at a time of economic difficulties.
He said, “Our common objective has to be to protect and nurture this European excellence, which is seriously challenged not only by one of the most serious economic downturns of our era, but also by several very serious threats.”
Mr Lefebvre d’Ovidio made a commitment that the European Cruise Council was determined to work with regulators to tackle the many current challenges to the cruise industry, from environmental issues to piracy. And he appealed for an “intensified dialogue” between the industry and regulators.
“We need Europe to remain a good place to do business, all cruise sector stakeholders – the industry, governments, NGOs and the public – should intensify the dialogue between themselves and with the legislators, in order to achieve the ambitious objective of sustainable growth.”
He concluded that “despite these many challenges that still need to be faced, we remain firmly optimistic that the cruise industry will continue grow in the years ahead and will continue to be an example of European excellence.”
Mr Lefebvre d’Ovidio, who is also chairman of Silversea Cruises, was appointed ECC chairman in 2010. The ECC, which has 30 cruise members and 34 associate members, aims to promote the interests of cruise ship operators within Europe and bring the benefits of cruising to a wider public audience.
Last year, cruise passenger numbers increased by 9.3%, with passengers spending almost €100 in each port visited. As well as generating €35.2 billion of goods and services, the cruise industry supported 307,000 direct and indirect jobs, an increase of more than 55% compared to the previous five years.
According to the ECC, 99% of the world’s cruise ships were built by European shipyards, and that, in turn, meant 99% of all supplies were bought from European manufacturers. The investment of €10.3 billion in new ships announced for 2011 and 2014 testified to the fact that the cruise industry was a key driver in maintaining a European shipbuilding industry.