Growth Continues To Enrich the West

Four Western states ranked among the top 10 beneficiaries of U.S. cruise expansion.

By: Theresa Norton Masek

The cruise industry continued to grow and pumped billions of dollars into the U.S. economy in 2002, despite the challenging economy and overall downturn in travel, according to a new study.

Cruise tourism generated nearly $20.4 billion in economic activity in the U.S. last year, nearly a 10 percent increase over 2001 numbers, according to the report prepared by Business Research and Economic Advisers. for the International Council of Cruise Lines.

About 7.5 million U.S. residents took cruises last year, representing nearly 80 percent of all passengers worldwide. The total was a 10.5 percent increase in 2001 totals, but fell short of the industry’s 13 percent growth in capacity. “The cruise industry was one of the bright spots in the U.S. economy during 2002, particularly for the hard-hit travel and tourism sector,” said ICCL President Michael J. Crye.

Four Western states with major ports ranked among the top 10 beneficiaries: California, Alaska, Washington and Texas.

California ports experienced a 9.6 percent increase in embarkations, up to 705,000 from 643,000 in 2001.

The 10 states accounted for 79 percent of the total U.S. impact. Outside of the West, the biggest beneficiaries were Florida, New York, Illinois, Georgia, Massach- usetts and Pennsylvania.

Still, even states far from the water were affected.

Wyoming ranked last among the 50 states in cruise economic impact but still gained $3 million in direct purchases. And 39 residents earned $1 million from related employment, the study found.

The economic effects are related to airline transportation for cruise passengers, food and beverage purchases, ship maintenance and refurbishment, engineering work and travel agent commissions.

“Our growth has ripple effects across the entire U.S. economy,” Crye said. Cruise embarkations grew by 10.2 percent at U.S. ports, demand stimulated by consumers’ preference for domestic travel and the industry’s continued expansion into new ports in large drive markets.

Short, inexpensive cruises also attracted more travelers in 2002, as did heavy discounting on some itineraries and value-added perks.

The complete study can be viewed at "