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by Brett Jardine, commercial director CLIA Australasia

CLIA recently published a global Economic Impact Study that showed total cruise passenger numbers in 2014 reached more than 22 million passengers and the total contributions of the cruise industry to the global economy was almost USD$120 billion.

North America accounted for 55 per cent or 12.2 million cruise passengers, Europe accounted for 29 per cent or 6.4 million passengers and other regions of the world, including Australia, China, Singapore, Japan and South America, accounted for the remaining 16 per cent or 3.5 million passengers.

The just released CLIA Australasia Economic Impact Study shows that swelling cruise passenger numbers and an increase in homeported ships helped drive the industry’s economic contribution to a record $3.6 billion during the 2014/15 financial year – an impressive 11 per cent increase since 2013, when CLIA’s first economic report recorded an industry contribution of $3.2 billion.

According to the report, the number of calls by homeported ships increased by eight per cent in the 2014/15 financial year, compared to the previous year, helping to boost cruise line expenditure by 11 per cent.

Also fuelling growth was a 10 per cent rise in passenger capacity on homeported ships and a nine per cent increase in capacity on visiting ships, reflecting the increasing size of cruise ships in local waters.

Overall passenger expenditure grew by 12.5 per cent to $814 million, driven by the increase in passenger days as well as a 3.4 per cent rise in average cruise passenger spend per day to $384.

In great news for homeports around the country, the report revealed that international cruise passengers spend big before joining a cruise, averaging $700 a day. While domestic passengers spend an average of $483 per day.

While there is a lot to celebrate in the economic findings, CLIA’s executive summary sounds a warning bell about the cruise industry’s future expansion, noting that capacity constraints are already being felt in Sydney and Brisbane, with regional destinations in QLD, Victoria and WA now growing at the expense of the nation’s cruising gateway, Sydney.

These constraints have limited the number of visiting international ships, prompting a 10 per cent decline in international passenger visit days in 2014-15 and costing Australia close to $7 million in lost economic benefits, highlighting the shifting structure of the industry as these limitations start to bite.

The second regional EIS has really proven its worth, not only outlining the tremendous value of the cruise industry but demonstrating the importance of appropriate support from government as we move forward.

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