With business still growing fast in Asia, the Cruise Lines International Association is projecting that 25.3 million people will take a cruise vacation in 2017.
That represents an estimated 4.5 percent increase from 2016, when 24.2 million passengers are expected to cruise. CLIA originally gave an outlook of 24 million for this year, but in June revised the forecast up slightly while also bumping up 2015 totals.
The outlook for 2017, released Thursday, is based on the historic relationship between yearly capacity increases and passenger increases.
Next year, 26 new ocean, river, and specialty ships are set to debut, including two vessels that will be deployed year-round in China. Several cruise lines announced recently they are visiting Cuba for the first time in the new year with older ships, which is expected to stir up fresh excitement for otherwise standard Caribbean itineraries.
“The cruise industry is responding to global demand and we are highly encouraged by both the short-term and long-term outlook,” Cindy D’Aoust, CLIA’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “From technological advancements and deployment of new ships to new ports and destinations around the world, the industry continues to respond to desires of today’s travelers resulting in steady growth and strong economic impact around the world.”
According to the industry outlook, worldwide spending generated by the cruise industry reached $117 billion in 2015. The equivalent of 956,597 full-time employees earned $38 billion last year — an amount that fell year-over-year even as the number of workers increased. Last year’s projection said that 939,232 employees had earned $39.3 billion in 2014 and the total economic impact for the industry was $119.9 billion.