The number of cruises sold to British holidaymakers in 2017 may have exceeded two million if hurricanes had not hit the Caribbean, it has been claimed.
Clia last week reported a record year for the British cruise industry, with 1,959,000 Britons taking a cruise holiday in 2017 – an increase of 0.5% against 2016.
Stuart Leven, Clia’s UK and Ireland chairman, said it was a “major factor” that “five or six weeks” after hurricanes Irma and Maria struck ships were sent to help with the humanitarian effort.
He told Travel Weekly: “I would not lay it firmly at the door of hurricanes but several ships were taken out of service in order to help, which means there were less holidays to sell and flights were cancelled. It is a major factor.”
He added that the hurricanes had “not had any impact” on future bookings, adding that it could have been “the difference” between hitting the two million mark and not.
When asked about the figures at Abta’s First Time Cruisers Conference in central London, Leven said the UK market has “massive scope for growth”.
He said cruise lines would be encouraged to deploy more ships in the UK due to people cruising for the first time giving higher satisfaction scores after the sailing.
“If you can get more people on ships there is a massive scope for growth,” he said.
Leven cited how the UK cruise industry holds a 4.5% share of the holiday market, but if that figure increased by one percent that would add 500,000 passengers to the annual number of Britons taking cruises.
He also said: “Most of the agents are better at selling a cruise than the cruise lines are. They are the experts. Eight out of 10 bookings come through the trade.”
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