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Source: The Guardian
Author: Gwyn Topham
The eurozone crisis may have left millions of young people jobless but the older generation who sustain Europe’s cruise industry are holidaying in greater numbers – with British passengers leading the way.
Figures released by the European Cruise Council show 6.2 million people took a cruise last year, a 9% increase from 2010. The number of customers from the UK grew by 10% to 1.7 million.
Booking volumes dipped earlier this year after the Costa Concordia disaster in January, when 32 people died after the cruise ship struck rocks on the Italian coast. However, the industry says bookings have recovered.
The Costa line itself, having slashed prices to attract customers back, has seen a 25% increase in bookings compared with this time a year ago, its owner Carnival Corporation announced last week.
The European Cruise Council has released research claiming that cruising has generated record spending of £12.1bn annually in Europe on other businesses and employers who service the industry, such as shipbuilders, food producers, and providers of port facilities. Its figures show the industry contributed £2.28bn to UK economic activity in 2011, where it claims to have provided employment for 63,834 people, 14,486 working directly for cruise lines.
Its research shows Southampton, the second busiest European port (after Venice), used by 1.5 million cruise passengers, gained economic benefits of more than £300m from the cruise industry.
David Dingle, a member of the ECC executive and chief executive of Carnival UK, said: “Despite these challenging times the cruise industry is making an increasingly significant contribution to the British economy and that of mainland Europe by creating jobs and acting as a catalyst for tourism.
“And next year we will see more ships deployed in UK ports which we believe is testimony to the continued confidence in the UK as the world’s second largest source market for the cruise industry.”