More than 5,500 UK jobs could be at risk as the result of an extended shutdown of the cruise industry due to the coronavirus crisis.

The warning from trade body Clia came as all lines continued suspensions and less than 24 hours after Fred Olsen Cruise Lines announced an indefinite cancellation of sailings by its four ships beyond May 23, after originally stopping cruises on March 13.

Up to 530 jobs can be lost for every 1% drop in cruising in the UK, the new industry data revealed today.

Each day cruises are suspended results in the loss of 55 direct jobs and 139 total positions in the UK.

The anticipated impact of a 90-day cruise suspension for the UK is:

  • Direct economic loss of £888 million, 5,525 jobs, and £287million in wages
  • Total economic loss of £2.37 billion, 13,788 jobs, and £746 million in wages

The impact of a 60-day cruise suspension is:

  • Direct economic loss of £539 million, 3,350 jobs, and £174 million in wages
  • Total economic loss of £1.43 billion, 8,359 jobs, and £454 million in wages

A fifth of the 435,000 people employed in businesses supported by the cruise industry across Europe are based in the UK, according to a report conducted by the Business Research & Economic Advisors on behalf of Clia.

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

As well as cruise line staff – both on board and on land – the industry supports an extensive 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.

But the global suspension of cruise operations will impact communities and businesses.

Clia UK and Ireland director Andy Harmer said: “The cruise industry generates £10 billion for the UK economy each year.

“We understand the significant impact, therefore, that our decision to suspend operations has on the livelihoods of people who work in our sector, and on businesses that rely on the cruise industry in all parts of the country.

“Unfortunately, our research shows that for a 60-day suspension we can anticipate a loss of more than 3,000 UK jobs and an economic cost of £539 million to the UK.”

He added: “Choosing to suspend operations was the right thing to do, and we know the cruise industry is resilient.

“We have put public health at the heart of our response, and we will continue to respect the guidance from international and national health authorities.

We are using this time to enhance further our protocols that we will all benefit from, and we look forward to playing our part in the recovery, when the time comes for society to travel once more.”