Scotland - Cruising to Success

In terms of reach and popularity, the global cruise market shows no signs of waning. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, anticipates that the number of cruise passengers will exceed 30 million this year for the first time in history – not that far from doubling over the last decade. Most passengers come from the United States, by some distance, with significant numbers also travelling from the likes of China, Germany and United Kingdom.

This steady, unwavering growth in cruise popularity has been driven in part by a number of emerging trends, with the sector capitalising on these. Ever improving onboard connectivity and smart tech services means the cruise sector is keeping pace with the digital, Instagrammable world, affording passengers the platform to share content from new, bucket list locations throughout the world. Or, perhaps, to take their usual working office out to sea. Previously out of reach places are now accessible, such as the Galapagos Islands and Antarctica.

Cruises are seeking to adapt to local cultures and communities, allowing travellers to see the world in a more environmentally conscious way. And with Generation Z set to become the largest consumer generation by 2020, the opportunity to delve into new experiences has significant appeal (including cruising in the traditional off-peak months). The number of female travellers is growing too, with some cruises adopting new female-centred itineraries. Health and wellbeing has not been forgotten either with cruises increasingly offering passengers a chance to escape and relax from everyday life, with wellness facilities including restorative spa experiences, on-board oxygen bars, healthy menu choices for a wide variety of diets, and the latest in fitness innovations available on board.

Scotland continues to play a significant role in the growth of the global cruise market with some 800,000 passengers visiting in 2018, an increase of almost 18% on the previous year.  Recognising the scale of the cruise tourism opportunity for Scotland’s destinations as well as its challenges we are currently undertaking a key piece of research into the Scottish cruise sector on behalf of Visit Scotland and partners. The research aims to build a comprehensive picture of the Scottish cruise tourism ecosystem. It involves mapping the existing cruise tourism offer, from infrastructure to demand consulting with some 100 organisations and stakeholders in order to produce an evidence base that will enable stakeholders to plan for new cruise market opportunities and address challenges moving forward.

This work builds on our previous work in the Scottish tourism sector reviewing the sector’s ten year strategy TS2020 and evaluating the national digital skills programme for the sector, Digital Tourism Scotland. We have also supported clients in Ayrshire and Orkney carrying out a market assessment for marine tourism and examining the impacts and management strategies for volume tourism respectively.

For more information please get in touch with Susan Staiano Director on 0845 1206244 or at: susan.staiano@ekosgen.co.uk