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Publication Title | Responsible Cruise Tourism: Issues of Cruise Tourism and Sustainability

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SPECIAL SECTION: CRUISE TOURISM AVAILABLE ONLINE Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management

Responsible Cruise Tourism: Issues of Cruise Tourism and Sustainability

Ross A. Klein

Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada

Cruise tourism is the fastest growing segment of leisure tourism. With its growth has come concern about the impact of cruise tourism on coastal and marine environments, local economies, and on the sociocultural nature of port communities. These three areas are key elements in analyses focused on responsible tourism, and form a critical base from which to consider strategies to ensure the sustainable development of cruise tourism. The goal of this article is to illustrate how a responsible tourism lens measures the impact of cruise tourism and, with its focus on the perceptions of host communities, more effectively addresses grassroots concerns. Case examples are used to identify and describe challenges faced by governments, communities, and the cruise industry. Analysis of these issues and challenges gives direction for how cruise tourism can grow in ways that are both sustainable and responsible.

Keywords: responsible tourism, cruise tourism, environmental impacts, sociocultural impacts, economics of cruise tourism

Cruise tourism is the fastest growing segment of leisure tourism, increasing 7.2% annually since 1990, doubling every decade (Cruise Lines International Association [CLIA], 2010). While typically greatest in North America, growth is in recent years increasingly at a quicker pace elsewhere in the world. Between 2006 and 2009 passenger numbers in North America were virtually unchanged, compared to a 68% increase (an average 17% annually) outside North America (CLIA, 2010). Growth ‘downunder’ has been even greater. Carnival Australia reports a 26% passenger increase between 2008/09 and 2009/10 (see Carnival Australia, n.d.) a level of growth that will continue with the addition of ships to the company’s fleet. New Zealand reports a 513% increase between 1996/97 and 2009/10; an average 37% per year (Tourism New Zealand, 2010).

This growth is in part a result of redeployment of older ships from North America to other parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, and Australia (see Davies, 2009). The growth also reflects construction of ever-larger ships. Carnival Cruise Lines’ and Royal Caribbean’s first ships carried 1,024 and 724 respec- tively. Their newest ships carry 4,000 and 6,000 passen- gers, respectively (Klein, 2005a).

Correspondence

Ross A. Klein, PhD, Professor, School of Social Work, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John’s, NL A1C 5S7 Canada. E-mail: rklein@mun.ca

As the size of ships has grown, and the number of ships has increased, new ports have been established and existing ports have found ever-growing numbers of day- visitors. The growth for some has been phenomenal. Belize saw a 2,000% increase in cruise passenger arrivals between 1999 and 2009 (an increase of 1,591% in just four years between 1999 and 2003; Caribbean Tourism Organization, 2010; Klein 2005a). Over the same period, the Bahamas, Saint Maarten, and Antigua saw increases of between 110% and 120% (Bahamas logging more than 3.25 million passengers annually). It is not only the Caribbean. Cruise passenger arrivals in Victoria, British Columbia, and Seattle increased more than 1,000% between 1999 and 2009 (Klein, 2005b; Port of Seattle, 2010; Port of Victoria, 2009) while arrivals in neighbor- ing Vancouver decreased 5% over the same time period (Klein, 2005b; Port of Vancouver, 2009).

Cruise tourism’s growth has brought with it concern about environmental impacts, including the footprint left ashore by cruise tourists — the number of cruise passen- gers has grown more than 30 fold between 1970 and 2011, which poses a much greater environmental threat. As well, there are debates about the economics of cruise tourism — the value of cruise passenger spending and costs associated with infrastructure required to host ships, including cruise terminals that can cost $100 million or more — and about the impact of cruise tourism on local culture and society. These three areas of concern — the environment, economic benefits, and maintaining cul- tural integrity — are embedded in the concept of ‘sustain- able tourism.’

Klein, R.A. (2011). Responsible Cruise Tourism: Issues of Cruise Tourism and Sustainability. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management, 18, 107–116. 107 DOI 10.1375/jhtm.18.1.107

Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management

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