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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

July 17, 2013 at 1:14 PM

Cruise industry brings big footprint ashore here

The Crystal Symphony departs the Pier 66 cruise ship terminal, heading for Astoria, Ore., earlier this year (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

The Crystal Symphony departs the Pier 66 cruise ship terminal, heading for Astoria, Ore., earlier this year (Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times)

A new report from the Cruise Lines International Association says that the state posted a record $764 million in direct spending and cruise-industry employment of 19,000 last year. That ranked Washington sixth among the states in cruise industry economic impact. Seattle was the eighth-largest cruise port in the United States with 464,000 passengers embarking, essentially holding its own compared with the previous year. The No. 1 port is Miami.

“After a strong rebound in 2010 and 2011 from the recession induced impacts of 2009, the North American cruise industry continued to expand in 2012 but at a more moderate pace,” the report stated. In 2010 and 2011, global passengers and capacity grew by 10 percent; last year that growth slowed to 5 percent. Among the causes were recession in Europe, continued weak consumer spending in the United States and “negative publicity” from the grounding of the Costa Concordia, which struck a rock off the coast of Italy and whose captain now faces criminal charges. (Really? Negative publicity ripped a gash in the ship? Really?).

Business Research and Economic Advisers, a marketing research outfit, conducted the study for the trade association. As with most economic impact studies, this one should be examined with care. It can’t tell us, for example, what economic activities might increase if the cruise industry was not using consumer dollars. Still, anybody who has been in downtown Seattle this summer understands the big footprint of the industry here. With the Port of Seattle struggling to make up for lost container business, cruising is more important than ever.

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Today’s Econ Haiku:

Ben, on his way out

Blurts out what’s holding us back

Congress, see mirror

Comments | More in Ports of Seattle and Tacoma | Topics: Cruise industry, Port of Seattle, Seattle economy

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