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ECC optimistic on European cruise sector growth

EUROPEAN Cruise Council chairman David Dingle remains optimistic about growth in the European cruise sector after the latest projections showed an expected 10% increase in the number of cruise passengers in 2008. “Nowhere is free from the economic turmoil but I believe the European cruise industry is in a better position than many others and the ECC anticipates further passenger growth in 2009,” he said. Mr Dingle, who is also chief executive of Carnival UK, was speaking as the ECC released its latest economic impact study for 2007, which showed that the European cruise sector accounted for nearly €13bn ($17.1bn) in direct expenditure that year, a 22% increase on 2006. The industry generated 280,000 jobs in 2007, up 25% on 2006. “There has been a significant increase, more than 53% in two years, in the number of passengers joining their cruise from a European port, partially the result of the increased number of North American ships now sailing in Europe,” he said. “This has contributed to the substantial increase in the amount passengers spend at embarkation ports and ports of call. In the three years the ECC has been collecting data there has been a 56% increase to €2.5bn. Cruise lines spent €4.5bn on services, supplies and equipment, a 29% increase over 2006.” Cunard president Carol Marlow was similarly upbeat about prospects, as she revealed details of Queen Elizabeth, the latest addition to the Cunard fleet. Last year was described as a successful one for the company despite the current market conditions. “We have done a lot of research telling us that people are still going to be taking holidays,” she said. Cruise holidays offered value for money and there was an increase in people looking for something more traditional, which was in line with the product Cunard offered, she added.

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