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Newly released cruise industry economic impact numbers for 2019 remind us that the eventual resumption of cruising will play a critical role in helping drive our region’s economic recovery.
As it does each year, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) released its annual report on the cruise industry’s impact on the U.S. economy. Pre-pandemic, the cruise industry generated $55.5 billion in economic activity in the United States, a 5.3 percent increase from 2018.
Moreover, growth in economic activity was accompanied by an increase in industry-supported jobs. According to the report, the cruise industry supported 436,600 American jobs paying $24.4 billion in wages in 2019 – 3.5 percent and 5.4 percent increases from 2018, respectively.
STRONG REGIONAL ECONOMIC GROWTH
That growth also was reflected across the board in our region. As the fourth most popular cruise port in North America and only cruise port in Texas, the Port of Galveston’s cruise activity contributed significantly to state and regional economies. We saw growth in all areas in 2019 compared to 2018.
According to the report, Texas ranks third behind Florida and California in total direct expenditures, employment and wage impacts.
Tourism-related businesses, such as hotels, travel agencies, airlines, etc., received approximately $816 million, or half of the industry’s direct expenditures in Texas from Port of Galveston cruise activity. The second largest segment includes manufacturers, wholesale trade and advertising agencies.
Wage-earners further boost the economy by spending their wages to pay rent, buy homes, dine out, shop in stores and buy services. Direct and indirect expenditures generate millions of dollars in local and state sales taxes, an impact not included in the CLIA report.
Our cruise business generates about 65 percent of the port’s annual revenue, allowing us to reinvest in business growth and infrastructure improvements to generate more jobs and economic benefits for the Galveston community.
These latest figures follow nearly 10 years of continued growth in the cruise industry, fueled by the rising popularity of cruise vacations. The report shows Galveston as one of the fastest growing cruise ports in the U.S. with embarkations more than doubled between 2012 and 2019.
More than 13.7 million passengers embarked on cruise ships from U.S. ports in 2019, up nearly 8 percent from 2018 and 26 percent from just five years ago. While cruise operations remain suspended in the United States as a result of the pandemic, the Galveston Wharves is working with cruise industry leaders and our local business and community partners for the safe, sustainable resumption of cruising in 2021.
With hundreds of thousands of jobs at stake, a resumption of cruising with appropriate measures in place and with the support of health authorities will be critical to putting people back to work and fueling the greater economic recovery from the pandemic.
Find the CLIA 2019 U.S. cruise report on our website, www.portofgalveston.com, under Business/Reports or click on the link /DocumentCenter/View/2814/2019-CLIA-Cruise-Economic-Impact-North-America
Rodger Rees is Galveston Wharves port director and chief executive officer.