UK cruise industry needs government support and recognition, says Dingle

UK cruise industry needs government support and recognition, says Dingle
David Dingle, chairman of Carnival UK; Stuart Leven, vice president of EMEA and managing director of RCL; and Tom Fecke, Secretary General of CLIA Europe (Photography by Steve Dunlop)

At its first ever event held to coincide with London International Shipping Week, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) hosted a meeting for MPs, ministers, senior legislators and others on 13 September 2017 at the In&Out Naval and Military Club in London.

David Dingle, chairman of Carnival UK and Stuart Leven, vice president, EMEA and managing director of RCL Cruises Ltd., represented the major cruise lines at the event.

In his keynote speech, Dingle said that 1.9 million cruises were sold in the UK in 2016, showing an annual growth rate of 2.5%, with half commencing in a British port. The rate of passengers joining cruises in the UK was up 5% at 1.1 million people. With inbound cruise tourism having grown 18% over the last five years, a total of 114 ships from 52 cruise lines visited 55 different British ports last year. “Most remarkably, each single cruise ship turnaround between one cruise and the next has been calculated to deliver £2 million to the local economy,” Dingle said, noting that most of the world’s cruise companies were represented in London and describing Britain as “a true world centre of cruise business.”

Dingle also talked about potential threats to cruise growth by the planned exit of the UK from the European Union. “We do need government to recognise both our needs and our opportunities as Brexit approaches,” he said. “Crucially, we must not allow any excessive zeal in limiting entry to this country to affect the smooth processing of cruise customers arriving in and departing from our ports.”

Brexit held opportunities too, he said, in particular for increased flexibility in the UK Tonnage Tax and for the restoration of the “lucrative” Duty Free trade.

Royal Caribbean’s Stuart Leven commented that he had worked extensively with Dingle regarding the impact of Brexit on the cruise industry and that both companies’ global nature and strong European operations helped in this regard. “We are an industry that has influence on both sides of the debate,” he said.

Regarding the cruise industry’s environmental footprint, Dingle referred to large investments by his and other cruise lines in filtering systems and in LNG-powered newbuilds and added: “Cruise lines have undertaken massive investments to install exhaust gas cleaning systems to remove sulphur, but they have gone way beyond compliance with the addition of filtering systems which remove most nitrous oxide and 80% of particulates. This is expensive, difficult, leading-edge work. It takes time but we as an industry are determined to deliver. We simply call for the recognition of our efforts.”

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