Cruise Shipping Miami – the biggest annual gathering of industry insiders – has opened at the Miami Beach Convention Centre amid an air of optimism.
The year – the 27th instalment of the annual extravaganza – will see leaders from all the global cruise brands in one place for the event.
First up was a session on “New and Emerging Source Markets,” with William Gibbons, director for the Passenger Shipping Association, arguing how cruise vacations continue to grow among UK travellers.
Figures from the organisation revealed a record year for the industry.
“Cruise vacations are up six per cent,” Gibbons said, with 1.62 million cruises recorded in 2010.
Gibbons also noted the UK is Europe’s number one source market for cruising, followed by Germany, Italy and Spain.
The Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA) is forecasting 16 million passengers will set sail in 2011, a 6.6 per cent increase over 2010.
CLIA also pointed out the Caribbean “continues to be the dominant cruise destination,” accounting for 40 percent of all itineraries.
Then there’s the economic impact of cruise travel for the overall North American economy. According to CLIA figures, North American cruise lines generated $35.1 billion gross output, including 313,998 jobs that paid $14.23 billion in wages and salaries.