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Wednesday 1 May 2019

Cruise Growth Continues Despite Infrastructure Constraints

Australia has continued its long run of cruising growth with a total of 1.35 million Australians taking an ocean cruise during 2018, a slight increase on the previous year's record.

However, growth slowed to just 0.9 per cent year-on-year, according to the 2018 Ocean Source Market report for Australia released today by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), reflecting capacity constraints associated with a shortage of berthing infrastructure in Sydney.

Despite the lower growth, the result still showed a higher number of Australians choosing a cruising holiday than ever before. Nearly one in every 17 Aussies, or 5.8 per cent of the population, took a cruise last year, giving Australia the highest market penetration rate of the world's major established cruise markets – ahead of the US (4.0%), the UK (3.0%) and Germany (2.8%).

Cruising in local waters (Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific) grew by just 0.1% over figures for 2017, reflecting current infrastructure constraints. But this was offset by growth of 3.4% in the number of Australians taking fly-cruise options in destinations further afield, indicating demand remains strong in the Australian market.

"Cruising continues to be exceptionally popular among Australian travellers after many years of growth and world-leading market penetration," said CLIA Australasia Managing Director Joel Katz. "A lack of berthing capacity in Sydney has hampered cruise lines' efforts to expand their operations in local waters, but the increasing number of Australians flying to ports overseas shows the market is still strong and holds great potential for the future."

CLIA's report says a subdued growth trend will continue in the short term into 2019, but it predicts a return to stronger growth in the near future.

"Cruise lines have already announced significant new vessel deployments in this region from the 2020-21 season, with smaller, older ships to be replaced with newer, larger options," Mr Katz said. "Combined with the construction of a new International Cruise Terminal in Brisbane and other projects announced in Cairns, Eden and Broome, this is expected to reignite growth in the Australian market."

Mr Katz said the development of new berthing facilities in Sydney remained the most urgent infrastructure priority for the cruise sector in Australasia, and that the industry looked forward to further announcements on the NSW Government's Cruise Development Plan.

Other findings from the 2018 Ocean Source Market report include:

NSW still represented more than half the Australian ocean cruise market (53%), but its share fell as popularity grew in other states, with Qld contributing 22% and Vic 13%.
The average age of the Australian cruise passenger remained steady at 49 years.
Growth in short domestic cruises lowered the average cruise length, which was down from 9.1 days in 2017 to 8.8 days in 2018.

In the inbound market, about 200,000 people came from other regions to cruise in Australasian waters in 2018, more than half from North America.

The majority of Australians cruised within Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific (76.6%). Europe/Mediterranean was the most popular long-haul destination (8.1%), followed by North America/Caribbean/Alaska/Hawaii (7.3%) and Asia (5.4%).

Worldwide, 28.5 million people took a cruise in 2018, a 6.7% increase on the previous year. This figure is forecast to break the 30 million barrier in 2019.

To download a copy of CLIA's 2018 Ocean Source Market report for Australia, click here

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