2017-18 Cruise Tourism Income Much Lower Than In Earlier Years


Passenger and crew visits along with additional expenditures by the cruise lines that arrived in the Territory during the 2017/18 cruise year reportedly contributed a total of US$12.5 million to the local economy. This is according to the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association commissioned study from Business Research and Economic Advisors.

The report titled the “Economic Contribution of Cruise Tourism to The Destination Economies” is a survey-based analysis of the impacts of passenger, crew and cruise line spending. In Volume II of the destination report it was explained that due to the effects of Hurricane Irma, it was not possible to conduct surveys for the 2017/18 cruise season in BVI.  Therefore, it was noted that spend data from the previous study was used and inflated by growth rates seen in similar sized eastern Caribbean destinations. This was then applied to the actual 2017/18 passenger and crew counts obtained from the BVI Ports Authority

Nonetheless, it was stated that the information was collated from surveys that were taken from passengers and crew members aboard FCCA member cruise lines at each FCCA member destination. It was explained that the surveys were placed in all passenger cabins and crew quarters following a single destination call, and were completed in the privacy of those quarters and returned to a designated office on the cruise ship. The surveys were designed to collect data for onshore spending and visit satisfaction by both passengers and crew. “While the crew survey was slightly shorter than the passenger survey, both surveys were designed to collect the information,” the report noted.

As it relates to the figures noted, it was mentioned that due to the devastating hurricanes in the region, passenger arrivals were approximately 60 percent below the 2014/2015 levels of the prior study. As it relates to the BVI, data submitted by the British Virgin Islands Ports Authority were cited in the report which noted that an estimated 140,763 cruise passengers arrived aboard cruise ships during the 2017/2018 cruise year. Of these ships an estimated 124,857 passengers (89%) disembarked and visited the Territory.

Of significance is the $12.5 million in total cruise tourism expenditures the BVI received from the cruiseship sector, especially since this reportedly resulted in direct employment of 146 residents of the Territory, and reportedly $2.5 million in annual wages. Further the report said that this figure represents indirect contribution that results from the spending of those local businesses that are the direct recipients of passenger, crew and cruise line expenditures. Furthermore the report said that the direct cruise tourism expenditures generated a total employment contribution of 234 jobs and $4.3 million in wage income in BVI during the 2017/2018 cruise year.

Residents of the United States, UK and Canada accounted for 94 percent of the respondents to the survey. According to the report, 49 percent of the survey respondents recorded spending an average of $24.40 for food and beverages.

Cruise passenger expenditures in BVI were concentrated in three categories which accounted for 77 percent of onshore expenditures which included excursions, and purchases of items such as watches, jewelry and clothing. It was stated that 30 percent of the passengers that went ashore made purchases in the following categories: shore excursions, food and beverages, clothing, and local crafts.

On the other hand, the document mentioned that 50% of the passengers reported that their cruise party purchased a shore excursion. The effective local price of the shore excursion was $82.20 per party but when the full price of the purchase from cruise lines and travel agents is included passengers spent an average of nearly $130 per party for their tours. For the entire 2017/2018 cruise year, the estimated 124,857 cruise passengers who visited BVI spent a total of US$9.8 million in the BVI.

As it relates to crew spending, the estimates showed that each crew member spent an average of $34.12 in BVI. The average spending per crew member is the sum of the weighted spending in each of the twelve categories. For example, 94 percent of the survey respondents reported spending an average of $22.50 for food and beverages. Spread over all the crew members that reported that they visited BVI this represents an average of $21.02 per crew member.

“Expenditures by crew in BVI were concentrated in three categories which accounted for 8 5 percent of their onshore expenditures: food and beverages, local crafts, and clothing. Combined, crew spent an average of $29.11 for goods in these three categories. Purchases of food and beverages were the most popular expenditure items with 94 percent of the crew reporting the purchase of food and beverages,” the report announced.

Cruise lines made other local expenditures, including payments for port fees and taxes, navigation services, utilities and other supplies. Based upon data provided by the FCCA member cruise lines, we estimated that all cruise lines spent $2.1 million ($US) in BVI during the 2017/2018 cruise year. A majority of these expenditures were payments for port fees and taxes and navigation services,” the report added.