Pierfrancesco Vago predicts Europe's cruise industry will continue to grow (Image: Vivian Hertz/MSC Cruises)
Europe’s cruise industry has grown by 49% since 2008 and is set to continue growing in 2017 and beyond, according to Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) Europe.
In 2015, 123 cruise ships from 39 cruise lines operated in European waters carrying a total of 6.6 million passengers, a 3% rise from 2014. Around 23.19 million Europeans took a cruise in 2015, 28.4% of the total number of global cruise passengers. Collectively travellers from the UK and Germany account for more than 54% of the total number of European passengers, while Italians account for 12.3%, the French for 9.3% and the Spanish for 7%. The remaining 19% of passengers came from elsewhere in Europe.
A total of 6.12 million European passengers embarked on their cruise at a European port, a 4.5% growth from 2014. Leading European markets by country of embarkation are Italy (32.7%), Spain (20.9%), UK (17.3%), Germany (9.6%), France (5.1%) and Greece and Denmark (3%).
The cruise industry contributed almost €41 billion to Europe’s economy in 2015 – a 2% increase from 2014 – with direct industry spending hitting €16.89. More than 360,000 people were employed either directly in the cruise sector or related businesses, 11,000 more than in 2014.
More cruise ships are expected to be delivered to European operators over the next few years, and the region’s shipyards will deliver 48 newbuilds by 2019 and 75 by 2026.
“Cruising is here to stay as it continues to attract more Europeans and generate economic growth,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, CLIA Europe chairman and MSC Cruises executive chairman, speaking at the Madrid International Cruise Summit last week. “While the cruise industry is ready to continue to expand in Europe, we face a number of common challenges that need to be addressed to make sure the cruise industry is on the right track. We are attentive to that.”
To sustain future growth, CLIA Europe is working with policy-makers to reform the current European Union Visa Code to encourage more foreign tourists to visit the region. The organisation also aims to ensure EU environmental legislation is applied consistently and is working with Member Lines, ports, experts and other partners to improve safety. CLIA Europe is also collaborating with local authorities to demonstrate the long-term economic benefits of the cruise industry.