The cruise industry is calling on the government for more support and increased recognition of its growing importance to the UK economy, particularly during Brexit negotiations.
Speaking during London International Shipping Week, David Dingle, Maritime UK chairman and vice chairman of Clia Europe, urged the government not to allow the outcome of Brexit negotiations to affect the “smooth processing of cruise customers arriving in and departing from our ports”.
He said: “The cruise industry is one that which deserves government support and encouragement at both national regional level.
“We don’t have big asks….but we do need government to recognise both our needs and opportunities as Brexit approaches.
“A 3,000 bed cruise ship bringing tourists to a British port relies on being able to disembark its passengers in little more than an hour – failure to do so limits the experience ashore and British ports become unattractive.”
Dingle said long immigration queues at British airports for international cruise passengers were already an “anathema” to the sector, adding: “Like all other forms of inbound and outbound tourism, air links are essential, so we ask for no interference in air operating rules as Brexit takes effect.”
Dingle, also chairman of Carnival UK, said the direct economic benefit of the cruise industry to the country was £3 billion.
But in total the industry benefits the UK economy to the tune of £7.5 billion, as a result of cruise ships being based and maintained in the UK as well as expenditure by cruise tourists.
For every £1 spent on a cruise, £3.50 is contributed to the British economy and in total 74,000 British jobs depend on the cruise sector.
Dingle said: “Britain is a true world centre of cruise business, and more and more cruise companies are looking our way, most recently demonstrated by MSC Cruises’ new commercial and operational facilities in Middlesex.
“As a result of increasing cruise tourism, ship management and strategic and commercial management in this country, British jobs in the cruise industry are continuing to grow, both ashore and on board.
“Supported by our Tonnage Tax and the government’s cadet funding scheme, many British officers in training are supported by cruise companies. Britain is crucial in the supply of talent to our fast-expanding industry, which offers so many career opportunities to the young people of this country.”
Dingle said he had this week made a plea to the UK government to double its annual funding of ship cadets through the Support for Maritime Training (SMarT) scheme to £30 million.
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