Tourism minister hails ‘vital role’ of cruise sector

The tourism minister has hailed the “vital” role of the cruise industry to the UK economy as she met representatives from the sector in London.

Julia Lopez, minister of state for media, tourism and creative industries, joined representatives of Clia, the cruise trade body, onboard Ponant’s Le Dumont d’Urville.

The meeting came as Clia prepares to host the UK’s largest travel agent cruise conference in Southampton (May 23-25).

During the visit, Clia outlined the economic benefits of cruise tourism to coastal and remote regions and islands that may be harder to reach by other means, supporting local services such as tourist attractions, restaurants, tour operators, and hotels.

Lopez said: “The cruise industry plays a vital role in our first-class tourism offer, showing visitors from across the world the best of Britain while generating millions of pounds for the economy and bringing huge benefits to our coastal communities.

“We are committed to keeping our tourism industry ship-shape, so it was fantastic to meet with Clia today to hear about the brilliant work they do to promote the cruise industry in the UK and steer our vibrant visitor economy to success.”

More: Clia hails 2023 ‘landmark year’ for cruise

Olivier Narcy, Ponant’s chief EMEA sales and global customer relations officer, said: “We are committed to supporting the UK market. Three of our ships will sail to the UK this summer, in about 45 different ports of call including new ones such as Herm Island, Fowey in South Cornwall and the Hebrides.”

Andy Harmer, Clia UK & Ireland managing director, said: “Cruise is a vital part of the UK visitor economy, bringing economic and social benefits to port communities around the country.

“At the same time, tens of thousands of travel agents, on the high street or homeworkers, benefit from the UK being in the top three cruise markets globally.”

The minister also saw the initiatives taken to promote efforts towards more responsible tourism on board Ponant’s Le Dumont d’Urville, which is equipped with catalytic systems to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and shore power connection systems in ports.

Clia data shows cruise passengers spend an average of £700 pounds during port calls throughout a week’s cruise.

More than 90% of passengers that sailed in past 12 months got off the ship at least at one port of call during their cruise.

In 2023, UK ports welcomed 2.16 million transit passengers visiting by cruise.

With each transit passenger being worth at least £70 to the local tourism economy every time they step ashore, the visitor figure for 2023 means a vital tourism injection of around £150 million to Britain’s coastal economies.

This is in addition to the economic benefit brought through cruise line and port operations.

Pictured from left: Stephen Winter, Ponant; Kay Greenway, Cruise Britain; tourism minister Julia Lopez; Andy Harmer, Clia.

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