Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Cruise Industry Pacing For Record Year 2008

Figures published by the National Statistics Office (NSO) show that cruise passenger traffic in Malta amounted to 45,924 passengers, implying an increase of 21.5 per cent over the same month in the previous year.

Most passengers were coming from EU countries, with the major markets being Italy and the UK – which also registered the biggest increases – as well as France and Spain.

Although a slight decrease of 1.6 per cent was registered when taking into consideration the first four months of the year as a whole, VISET general manager Chris Paris was not worried as he stated that 2008 is expected to be another record breaking year for the local cruise liner industry.

“Last year we had 384,000 cruise passengers – an increase of around 20 per cent over the previous year – and we’re expecting a further increase to reach the half a million mark this year,” he explained.

Moreover, VISET had bookings for 395 cruise liners during the course of this year, an increase over last year’s 384, he added.

On the impact of the increasing cost of fuels, he said that its effect on the industry cannot be anticipated since it depended on what the cruise liner companies decided. He also pointed out that even the passengers’ spending money would not be the same.

“Nevertheless, bookings remain healthy for the coming years,” he said.

Mr Paris also said that the Mediterranean region was the second best region after the Caribbean, while the EU source market – which is the major market for Malta – was also growing and was now in excess of four million. also caught up with operators in the industry, who reported they were having good business both locally and, when applicable, overseas.

One particular operator however pointed out that it was difficult to predict whether the momentum would be maintained. He explained that itineraries are prepared well in advance and, even if at present a good job is being done, the destination might still be dropped from such itineraries.