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Multi-million-dollar Cruise Industry Impacted by COVID-19

The 2019 U.S. Economic Impact Analysis, recently published by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), shows that New Jersey and its ports are at the center of the US cruise industry. However, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent suspension of cruise operations in the US are having a devastating impact on the economy and on those who depend on cruise activity for their livelihoods.

From mid-March through the end this year, it is estimated that the suspension of cruising in the US will result in a loss of more than $32 billion in economic activity and more than 254,000 American jobs.

Meanwhile, businesses and individuals throughout New Jersey benefited from the cruise industry in 2019 in multiple areas, including travel and tourism, manufacturing, food and beverage, and importantly, employment and wages. Here is a snapshot of the cruise industry’s economic impact in New Jersey in 2019:

2019 CLIA Economic Impact Analysis

New Jersey                                                                     Total

Resident Cruise Passengers                            398,266

Direct Expenditures                                                      $526M

Total Employment Impact                                          9,609

Total Wage Impact                                                       $581M

Cape Liberty, New Jersey’s cruise port, had an estimated 348,000 passenger embarkations during 2019 and, about 398,000 New Jersey residents cruised. Trips to Canada and Bermuda are seasonal, with cruises to the Bahamas and the Caribbean were offered on a year-round basis in 2019.

The millions of dollars in direct cruise expenditures impacted a range of New Jersey business sectors, a majority of that spending was with tourism-related businesses. Non-tourism businesses, such as food processors, textile and apparel manufacturers, petroleum refiners and distributors, law firms, and business service companies, also benefit from the cruise industry.

US Statistics

In 2019, the cruise industry generated a total of $55.5 billion in economic activity in the United States, a 5.3% 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—a 3.5% and 5.4% increase from 2018, respectively.

The latest figures follow nearly 10 years of continued growth in the cruise industry, fueled by the rising popularity of cruise vacations.

Over 13.7 million passengers embarked on cruise ships from U.S. ports in 2019, up nearly 8% from 2018 and 26% from just five years ago.

“The pre-pandemic trends clearly demonstrate that cruising has emerged as one of the fastest growing sectors of travel and tourism,” said Kelly Craighead, president and CEO of CLIA. “The cruise industry is proud to play an important role in the creation of jobs and economic opportunity for nearly half a million Americans throughout the country.

“At the same time, we recognize the devastating impact that COVID-19 has had on our community. A resumption of cruising in the US in 2021, with stringent 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,” Craighead said.

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