Report Ranks Australia First in Cruise Growth

By Michelle Howard
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Photo courtesy of CLIA

A new report now ranks the Australian cruise industry number one in the world for market growth and penetration, with latest industry figures revealing a record 833,348 Australians took a cruise last year.

Launched in Sydney, the 2013 Cruise Industry Source Market Report shows Australian cruise passenger numbers soared 20 percent in 2013, more than double the growth rate of any other major cruise market.

With the equivalent of 3.6 percent of the Australian population taking a cruise in 2013, Australia has become the first nation to ever achieve a stronger penetration rate than the world’s largest passenger source market, North America.  In 2013, the equivalent of 3.3 percent of the North American population took a cruise.

Announcing the report findings, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia Chairman Gavin Smith said Australia was “punching well above its weight” in the international cruise industry.

“Australia is still a relatively young cruise market, yet the number of Australians taking a cruise has grown by an enviable average 20 percent a year for the last 11 years as a growing number of travellers discover the many joys of cruising,” Smith said.

“That’s a remarkable achievement, particularly when you consider we’re now leading the world in market penetration. With more ships being deployed in Australia in 2014 and 2015, we’ve set course for continued growth over the next few years, so the benchmark of one million annual cruise passengers should be reached by 2016, if not before.”

Mr Smith said the continuing growth of the local cruise industry meant it was playing an increasingly important economic role in many Australian cities and towns, delivering valuable tourist dollars.

The latest CLIA Australasia figures build on the 2012 result which saw Australian passenger numbers rise 11 percent to 694,062.

Key findings of the 2013 CLIA Australasia Cruise Industry Source Market Report for Australia include:

  • Australia’s passenger growth rate of 20 percent was more than double other key markets including Germany and France, which grew 9 percent, the USA (3 percent) and the UK/Ireland (1 percent).
  • The Australian market penetration rate of 3.6 percent led the world ahead of North America (3.3 percent), UK/Ireland (2.5 percent), Germany (2.1 percent) and Italy (1.4 percent).
  • The South Pacific continues to dominate as a cruise destination, with almost 80,000 more Australians cruising the region in 2013, taking the total number to more than 330,000 (40 percent of the market)
  • River cruising numbers leapt 25 percent as almost 50,000 Australians took to inland waterways
  • Asian cruising is on the rise again with passenger numbers up 28 percent  to a record 44,382 as cruise ship capacity starts to expand
  • The number of Australians cruising to New Zealand has almost reached 100,000
  • Europe continues to dominate long-haul destinations with numbers surging 34 percent to more than 77,000 Australian cruisers.  While Mediterranean cruising remains the strongest draw card, Northern Europe numbers rose more than 50 percent with the region attracting close to 20,000 passengers
  • The number of passengers taking cruises of 8-14 days saw a massive spike, rising almost 35 percent from 353,342 in 2012 to 475,154 in 2013
  • Australians spent an estimated 8.7 million days at sea in 2013, up 22 percent on 2012, with holidaymakers enjoying 10.25 days on average on an ocean cruise and 14.4 days on river cruises
  • NSW remains the leading source of cruise passengers accounting for 41.1 percent of the market
  • Cruise passenger ages continue to be spread broadly across all age brackets, reflecting the diversity of product and itineraries available to Australian holidaymakers.
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