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Florida leads nation in cruise economic impact

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Cruise lines spent $4.6 billion on direct purchases in Florida in 2003, generating 130,750 jobs that paid $4.7 billion in income, an annual study by Business Research and Economic Advisors (BREA) said.

The study, commissioned by the International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL), shows Florida as leading the nation in cruise industry economic benefits.

In 2003, the study shows Florida accounted for more than 35 percent of the entire North American cruise industry's direct spending and 44 percent of all cruise-related jobs.

Florida's four primary cruise ports - the Port of Miami, Port Everglades, Port Canaveral and the port in Tampa - together accounted for nearly 4.7 million passenger embarkations in 2003, which BREA said equaled about two-thirds of all U.S. cruise embarkations.

"Worldwide, Florida's ports comprise nearly half of the global market share in cruise embarkations," the group said. "The state also serves as home to the headquarters or satellite offices of 10 cruise lines."

Gov. Jeb Bush said the findings highlight the success the cruise industry has met operating from Florida.

"We are certainly proud of the linchpin status we have earned within the industry, and thank the various cruise lines for their tremendous contributions to our economy and international recognition," Bush said.

BREA said Florida benefits from its geographical proximity to the nation's most productive cruise passenger market, the South Atlantic region.

In 2003, the South Atlantic accounted for nearly 2.3 million cruise passengers, or 30 percent of all U.S.-resident cruise vacationers, the group said.

That impact does not look likely to wane.

Since 2000, BREA said the South Atlantic has seen a 20 percent increase in its number of cruise passengers. In numbers, that rise was 375,000 passengers - the largest increase of any region of the country.

Important to local industries other than cruise lines, the study also found in Florida's four primary cruise ports, 33.5 percent, or 1.56 million, of embarking passengers stayed one or more nights in the port city. While there, the passengers spent an average $177.

"That amounted to a total of $276 million spent in Florida on lodging, food, entertainment and other goods and services in 2003," BREA said.

Of the 3.2 million passengers who arrived on the day of their cruise departure, BREA said they spent an average of $19 a passenger, or a total of $60.7 million.

For passengers who reached Florida as a port of call, BREA said those estimated 195,000 people spent an average $45 a person, or a total of $8.8 million.

Crew spending in Florida also was a significant source of revenue, the group said.

In 2003, BREA said, 2.16 million crew members visited Florida ports, spending an average of $35 a call, or a total of $75.6 million.

Florida industries BREA said most benefited from cruise line and passenger spending were:

food processing

lodging

advertising and marketing

recreation and amusements

wholesalers of products purchased by cruise lines

manufacturers of communications and navigation equipment

producers of machinery and equipment such as engine parts

manufacturers of fabricated metal products such as locks

shipbuilding and repair services

business service providers such as interior designers and computer service consultants

Shipping out

Even through Florida leads the nation, BREA's analysis also showed the North American cruise industry positively impacts every state's economy.

Nationally, the group said the cruise industry generated a $25.4 billion total economic impact in the United States last year. It also generated more than 295,000 jobs, BREA added.

"The cruise industry's contribution to the U.S. economy has risen, on average, 12 percent each year for the past three years," ICCL President J. Michael Crye said. "And that impact is felt in virtually every economic sector, from agriculture to durable goods, transportation, employment and taxes."

And cruise numbers are only increasing.

BREA estimated U.S. ports handled 7.1 million cruise embarkations during 2003, or 72 percent of global embarkations and a 9.4 percent increase over the year before.

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