The cruise industry generated direct expenditure of £2.28 billion in the UK last year, up 10.2% on 2010.
The European total was £12.1 billion, up 3.3%, with the UK spend second only to Italy and UK growth only behind France.
The sector provided employment in the UK for 63,834 people, of which 14,486 worked directly for cruise lines.
Together with indirect expenditure the total contribution of the global cruise industry to the European economy rose to a record £29.66 billion, figures released today (Tuesday) by the European Cruise Council show.
The number of UK passengers taking a cruise in 2011 rose by 10.9% to 1.7 million, or 28% of the continent’s cruise market.
European passenger numbers rose by 9% to 6.2 million. The global figure for 2011 was 20.6 million passengers.
Southampton was the second busiest European port in 2011, used by 1.5 million cruise passengers, behind Venice in Italy.
The economic benefits gained at Southampton amount to £2.5 million every time a cruise ship arrives in port or departs, with the city and region receiving an annual boost of more than £300 million from the cruise industry.
Carnival UK chief executive and ECC member David Dingle said: “Despite these challenging times the cruise industry is making an increasingly significant contribution to the British economy and that of mainland Europe by creating jobs and acting as a catalyst for tourism.
“After the tragic Costa Concordia incident in January off Giglio in Italy the world’s cruise industry moved swiftly to review and improve operational safety measures, and to reassure customers that cruising is a safe and enjoyable holiday.
“Booking volumes in the UK understandably paused after the tragedy while people sought assurance but the British market has seen numbers pick up, despite economic concerns which are influencing consumer spending.
“And next year we will see more ships deployed in UK ports which we believe is testimony to the continued confidence in the UK as the world’s second largest source market for the cruise industry.”
ECC chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, chairman of Silversea Cruises, added: “Our challenges in Europe include not just the economic crisis, but also issues such as political uncertainty and rising fuel costs.
“There must be a combined effort by industry and regulators to overcome these issues in order that the steady growth the sector has experienced over the last decade should continue.
“Despite this challenging environment, the cruise industry remains resilient and there are good reasons to believe that we will come through this period of uncertainty in a strong position.”
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