According to the European Cruise Council 4.9 million European residents booked a cruise in 2009 accounting for 30% of the worlds cruise passengers and showing a 50% rise over the past five years.
As well as passenger numbers growing the use of European ports has also enjoyed a steady rise with 23.8 million visits in 2009, which is a 9% increase on the previous year.
The European cruise industry is now generating more than €34 billion of goods and services per year and provides nearly 300'000 jobs. With nearly 4.8 billion passengers cruising in Europe in 2009 who spent €1.3 billion on services including flights, port taxes, hotels and excursions - an increase of 7.65 % 2008. Passengers also spent €1.45 billion while visiting ports during their cruise holiday, 1.7% up on 2008.
Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, chairman of the ECC and deputy chairman of Silversea Cruises, said: "2009 was an unprecedented year with all holiday sectors being affected by the economic downturn. Therefore it’s particularly rewarding that these latest figures show the resilience of the European cruise industry which is outperforming other holiday sectors... The total value of goods and services generated in 2009 has reached €34.1 billion, a rise of nearly 6% over the previous year. The industry has also increased the amount it spends on services, supplies and equipment to €5.4 billion, growth of 86% over the last five years. However, we have not been immune to the recession and have seen a slight reduction in direct expenditure – down just over one per cent to €14.05 billion which was as a result of a downturn in ship building. Although at least 29 ships are being built in Europe between 2010 and 2014, new orders have slowed. European yards need encouragement to enable them to be as competitive as possible and to stimulate further new orders. There’s huge potential for further growth provided new ships continue to be built."
ECC Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MSC Cruises Pierfrancesco Vago added: "The figures released today clearly demonstrate that the European cruising industry is a resilient business which can deliver valuable economic output. The core reason for this success is the appeal of a cruise holiday - it offers such an incredible array of choices for all ages, from luxury to budget, while consistently providing high standards and exceptional value for money."
Written by Stephen Adam