The UK cruise industry’s arrival as a mainstream holiday choice has made it bigger than the bottled water industry, the bed and breakfast sector and the cut flowers sector, Ace Columbus Day was told.
Royal Caribbean UK general manager Jo Rzymowska told the 350 delegates at the convention that cruise is now worth £2.28 billion to the UK economy and growing.
And she urged the trade to help operators transform the customer perception of the sector from Marmite – some people love it some people hate it – to Heinz – universally loved.
“We should be proud that our hard work ensures cruise continue to be a major player. Part of our thinking differently for the future is to be unashamed of our scale and impact.
“Cruise is not a niche player any more. Our business volume alone shows this and our marketing and investment shows we are a significant part of the leisure and entertainment industry.
“The trade must help the entire industry realise its potential. The UK market is on track to hit two million passengers by 2020. Expansion in Europe has also seen some positive trends.
“By 2015 Europe will become the largest cruise sector in the world, ahead of the US. In future years Germany is expected to overtake the UK as Europe’s largest market and there is considerable growth in Spain, Italy and France.
Rzymowska urged delegates to use these facts to change people’s minds about cruise so, like Heinz baked beans, it is in everyone’s shopping basket.
“We want cruise to do a Heinz baked beans to the land-based holiday market. We want our guests to never budge from a cruise holiday because they know anything else simply will not meet their expectations.
“Our future is to sell cruise as an experience and encourage the rest of the leisure industry to buy into this way of thinking.”
Rzymowska said cruise operators were constantly coming up with new product and ways for agents to promote and talk about cruise to their clients, including new ships and onboard facilities.
Royal Caribbean is embarking on a $300 million revitalisation of its fleet as it awaits the arrival of its new class of ship – currently codenamed Project Sunshine.
River cruise is also growing quickly, added Rzymowska, with 12 new ships due for delivery this year alone. “We continue to support you,” she said.
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