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What is the Economic Impact of the Cruise Industry in the United Kingdom?
Dover (Photo:GlennV/Shutterstock)

What is the Economic Impact of the Cruise Industry in the United Kingdom?

What is the Economic Impact of the Cruise Industry in the United Kingdom?
Dover (Photo:GlennV/Shutterstock)
Adam Coulter
UK Managing Editor
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Cruising is a global industry, with economic contributions that extend well beyond the employment taxes cruise lines pay and the onboard personnel they employ. In the UK and the rest of Europe, cruise lines support a domino effect of businesses that ultimately employ hundreds of thousands of people and contribute billions of pounds to the economy.

Latest figures (2019) from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the industry's trade association, estimates that cruising contributes £10 billion to the UK economy every year.

And as well as cruise line employees -- both on board and shoreside -- the industry supports an extensive and diverse supply chain, including travel agencies, hotels, local transport operators, and port agents, as well as catering companies, including many small and family-run businesses providing specialist food produce.

Across the UK, the industry supports 40,517 direct jobs paying £1.35 billion in wages, and 88,519 total jobs paying £3.05 billion in wages.

A more in-depth report from 2017 entitled "The Contribution of Cruise Tourism to the Economies of Europe", also commissioned by CLIA, outlined the direct and indirect ways the international cruise industry creates its economic footprint.

Cruise Critic took a look at that, as well as other reports from Cruise Baltic, Visit Norway and GP Wild Associates, to examine the industry impact.

A Job Provider

Southampton Port

In terms of direct jobs, manufacturing topped the list with a total of just under £1 billion in expenditures, 45 percent of the total. Key manufacturing industries include:

  • Food and beverage manufacturers, who received £179 million in purchases for provisions consumed on board cruise ships.
  • An estimated £294 million was spent on other nondurable goods, primarily bunker fuel, lubricants and other chemical products, such as paints and cleaning supplies.
  • Another £428 million was spent for metal products and machinery such as fabricated sheet metal, hardware supplies, material handling equipment and computers.

The industry's impact on indirect jobs -- which can include anything from port services and taxi or bus drivers to food and beverage suppliers, apparel and textile manufacturers, property purchases and leases, and more -- is greater.

According to the CLIA report, direct cruise tourism expenditures in the UK during 2017 generated an estimated 82,410 jobs, of which 27,980 were indirect jobs.

The indirect economic benefits derived from the cruise industry result in part from the additional spending by the suppliers to the cruise industry. For example, food processors must purchase raw foodstuffs for processing; utility services, such as electricity and water, to run equipment and process raw materials; transportation services to deliver finished products to the cruise lines or wholesalers; and insurance for property and employees.

Passenger Expenditure

Edinburgh (Photo:Johannes Valkama/Shutterstock)

But cruise lines are not the only ones contributing to the economy. Passengers and crew are also spending money, particularly in the cities from which they depart.

In 2017, A total of 1,094,000 cruise passengers embarked on their cruises from UK ports, primarily Southampton, Dover and Tilbury.

Most cruisers spent money on some combination of hotel rooms, rental cars, parking, petrol, food, taxis or Ubers/Lyfts, and other local goods and services.

Passengers (and crew) spent £486 million at ports-of-embarkation and call, accounting for 15 percent of total cruise industry expenditures in the UK, according to the report.

In Southampton alone, the £1.97 million source passengers accounted for 77 percent of all spending by passengers and crew in the UK. They spent an estimated £374 million on airfares, port fees, lodging, food and beverages, excursions and other purchases in the UK. The average embarking passenger spent approximately £156.

Elsewhere in the U.K., a total of 1,415,000 cruise passengers arrived at ports-of-call in 2017 including:

• Edinburgh: 90,000

• Invergordon: 134,000

• Dover: 48,000

• Kirkwall (Orkneys): 114,000;

• Liverpool: 44,000

• Lerwick (Shetlands): 50,000.

These port-of-call visits generated an additional £98 million in expenditures for tours, souvenirs and other expenditures. These passengers spent an average of £80 while in port.

According to a report by Innovation Norway (the Norwegian tourist board), it’s the same in Norway -- 864NOK or around £75-£80 per passenger.

An estimated 1,056,000 crew arrived at UK ports in 2017 and spent an estimated £12.8 million. Those crew members who left the ship and went ashore spent an average of £117 while in port.

Case Study: The Baltic

Copenhagen Port

An Economic Impact study on the Baltic Region by GP Wild Associates revealed the cruise industry generated a total output of EUR 1.5 billion in 2018, which supported exactly 12,595 total jobs in the Baltic region.

Of the EUR 1.5 billion, EUR 681 million were directly generated by cruise guests, crew and cruise line spending. The study also shows that the cruise guests account for approximately 60 percent of all spending in the Baltic region (EUR 407.3 of the total of EUR 681).

The Economic Impact Study is based on data collected and estimates for the 29 ports in ten countries which comprise Cruise Baltic. Three ports in Kiel, Riga and St. Petersburg, which are technically not part of Cruise Baltic, are also included in the study to provide a complete picture of the region. The Economic Impact Study was undertaken by G.P. Wild.

Updated July 07, 2021

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