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Publication Title | The impacts of the cruise industry on tourism destinations JUAN GABRIEL BRIDA

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Sustainable tourism as a factor of local development Monza, Italy, 7-9/11/2008

The impacts of the cruise industry on tourism destinations


1 School of Economics and Management, Free University of Bolzano, e-mail:

2 Escuela de Turismo, Facultad de Administración, I.U Colegio Mayor de Antioquia, e-mail:

Abstract: In this paper we describe the evolution of the cruise tourism industry and we analyze different impacts on tourism destinations of this segment of the travel industry. The study includes the discussion of economic, social, environmental, cultural and political effects. We present data to analyze and compare the performance of the main cruise destinations and cruise lines. Analysis and data are based mainly on a selection of information taken from different official worldwide reports (OMT, CTO), press releases and previous studies. The economic impact is estimated from tourist expenditure and local information. Environmental impacts are compiled from historical and current data. We also describe different activities related to the cruise ship industry to identify costs and benefits to different actors of the local economies. From the analysis, we discuss some stylized facts about the cruise ship industry and we show that some optimist evaluations of local decision makers are not completely true.

Keywords: Cruise Ship Tourism, Socio-Economic Impact, Environmental Impact 1. Introduction

The cruise ship industry has been the fastest growing segment in the travel industry around the world, and since 1980, the average annual growth rate in the number of cruise passengers worldwide has been 8.4%. In 2007, 12.6 million worldwide passengers were carried on the Cruise Lines International Association members, an increase of 4, 1% over the previous year. Cruises are especially popular in the United States and in 2007, 10 million Americans took a cruise vacation representing 76 percent of the total cruise passengers of the World and is expected 51 million of them cruising in the next there years (CLIA, 2008). Nowadays, there are about 300 liners sailing the world's seas, with further 35 ships scheduled to join the global fleet over the next four years representing investments over U$D 20 billion. But as ship order book and passenger number grow, so, too, do cruising's impacts at different levels: socio-cultural, economic, politic and environmental.

The Caribbean region, continue being the most preferred cruise destination; according to FCCA statistics, accounting for 41.02% of all itineraries. Consumer interest in cruising continues being strong despite downward pressure on travel in general due to the economy and fuel costs; 77 percent of past cruise vacationers and 55 percent of vacationers who have not taken a cruise, expressed interest in doing so within the next three years. All over the world, but especially in the Caribbean region, one can observe that local governments investing large amounts of money in high quality infrastructures to attend the colossal ships and thousands passengers arrivals. There are very few studies concerning the different impacts of the cruise industry to destinations. Then the question is: are we sure that the benefits of attracting cruises to a tourism destination are higher than the costs? Is it sure that the major players in the cruise industry, including cruise lines, local governments and population, shore operators, civil society organizations are taking proactive measures to ensure a sustainable future for cruise tourism while preserving cruise destinations? Management techniques, such as regional collaboration to levy head taxes in order to increase economic benefits and limiting total cruise passengers to reduce social impacts must be coordinated between local governments. With the cruise industry’s boom, nobody wants to be backward. Maybe that is the reason why several governments, especially in Latin America, provide surveys and data about the cruise passenger’s expenditure that are not adequately justified. There are some studies that show values of cruise passenger expenditures higher than expenditures of normal tourists who have to pay hotel and meals (US$1.690 spent by a cruiser compared with US$1.180 spent by a non cruiser tourist in a week, according to FCCA).

2. Cruise impact’s overview

2.1. Economic Effects

The cruise industry has the potential to provide economic benefits to a port state. These economic benefits arise from five principal sources: 1) spending by cruise passengers and crew; 2) the shoreside staffing by the cruise lines for their headquarters, marketing and tour operations 3) expenditures by the cruise lines for goods and services necessary for cruise operations; 4) spending by the cruise lines


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