BTN Europe presents an overview of business travel and MICE predictions for this year
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More British than ever are taking to the seas, according to the Passenger Shipping Association (PSA). Announcing the figures PSA director Bill Gibbons said that the figure should reach 1.5m by 2008, with more, and larger, ships coming into service. Our photo shows Ocean Village and new arrival Ocean Village 2, both part of the P & O/Carnival UK fleet.
”The UK cruise market showed the biggest growth rate of all European source market countries and, with the British taking longer cruises than in 2005, there was an impressive 19% increase in the overall number of cruise nights booked,” he said.
In 2006 1.2m Brits took an ocean cruise - 12% more than the 1.07m who cruised in 2005 and double the number that took cruise holidays just a decade ago. The fly-cruise market increased by 13% last year to 753,000.
The average price paid in the UK for a 2006 cruise was ”1,314 ” a 5% increase on 2005's ”1,253 ” however PSA says this figure is misleading, as the real cost per day of a cruise holiday actually fell slightly in 2006. The actual average for summer cruises was ”1,229, ”38 (3%) less than in 2005 with the higher overall 2006 price being due to people booking longer, mainly winter cruises.
The Mediterranean was by far the most popular cruise destination for Brits in 2006, growing 22% and accounting for well over one third of the market.
This year the PSA has also conducted research into why people choose to cruise and what they look for when booking a holiday afloat. The results were not altogether surprising.
”The most important factors for an enjoyable cruise are good food and drink (35%) followed by the itinerary (27%), standards of accommodation, and then value for money and price. Good private and public facilities are also important, as is the range and quality of entertainment available on board.”
Interestingly the research also found that whilst 11% of those questioned have been on a cruise in the last five years, 33% are considering a cruise in the next five years, which demonstrates the huge potential for further growth.
Mr Gibbons was keen to summarise the success of the cruise industry: ”There is an ever growing range of cruise products available on the market - reflected in the increasing PSA membership ” boosted to 39 brands by five new members ” offering something to suit everyone, varying in size (from 49 passengers to almost 4,400 passengers) and itineraries, from polar bear tracking and adventure cruises to simply relaxing and unwinding with state of the art on-board facilities such as gyms, spas, garden villas, surfing pools, ice skating rinks, bowling alleys, and first class dining. This product innovation has been key to the growth of the industry, a trend we predict to continue with an expected two million UK cruisers by 2010.”