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(CNS Business): Cruise tourism across the Caribbean generated more than US$1.9 billion in direct expenditures, 45,000 jobs and $728 million in employee wages across the region, according to a new report commissioned by the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association. The study by the Business Research and Economic Advisors (BREA) analysed spending by passengers, crew members and cruise lines in 21 destinations, including the Cayman Islands, which was in the top five resorts when it came to cruisers parting with their money. Passengers spent US$157.7 million in the 2011/12 cruise year in Cayman (between May 2011 and April 2012). According to the study, this converts to some $66.6 million in earnings for employees locally.
Despite a decline in numbers the Cayman Islands still had the fourth highest number of passenger and crew onshore even without cruise berthing facilities. 1.5 million people visited here, combined with an average per passenger onshore expenditure of $93.70 per visit and an average crew expenditure of $57.50 per visits. The $158 million in cruise tourism spending in the Cayman Islands generated 3,547 total jobs and $66.6 million in wage income during the 2011/2012 cruise year.
The study also showed that across the region cruise lines spent an estimated US$246.9 million in participating destinations for port fees and taxes, utilities, navigation services and ship supplies.
"These expenditures have a direct impact on local employment and wages," Andrew Moody, principal of Business Research and Economic Advisors, said in a release about the report, adding that the industry creates additional jobs and income.
The destinations surveyed included Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Costa Rica, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Honduras, Nicaragua, San Juan in Puerto Rico, St Kitts and Nevis, St Maarten,St Vincent and the Grenadines, Turks and Caicos, and the US Virgin Islands.
Spending in the Bahamas was the highest, where cruise passengers spent $393.8 million, followed by St Maarten with $356.2 million, the US Virgin Islands with $339.8 million, and Puerto Rico with $186.6 million and the Cayman Islands with $157.7. Combined, these five destinations, with $1.43 billion in direct expenditures, accounted for 72% of the total cruise tourism expenditures among the 21 destinations.
Among BREA's other findings were that 15.44 million cruise passengers spent US$1.48 billion in the participating destinations, with per passenger expenditures ranging from US$185.40 in St Maarten to $27.10 in St Vincent and the Grenadines and averaging $95.92.
An average of 52% of passengers bought shore excursions, generating US$270 million in total payments to tour operators. Other notable purchases include watches and jewellery ($583 million), clothing ($158 million), food and beverage ($106.5 million), and local crafts and souvenirs ($87 million).
Over 2.7 million crew members also spent more than US$261 million in the region, with expenditures ranging from US$138.30 in the US Virgin Islands and $21.40 in St Vincent and the Grenadines and averaging $96.98.
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