A report issued by United States Federal Maritime Commissioner Louis E. Sola says there is an urgent need for the cruise industry to resume sailing from Florida's cruise ports, citing staggering losses to revenue, local employment, and the contributions cruise passengers make to other tourism sectors such as the airline and hospitality industries.
In its latest
FMC Commissioner Sola indicates that Florida has lost US$ 3.2 billion in economic activity and 49,500 local jobs paying approximately US$ 2.3 billion in wages as a result of the suspension of cruising following the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's No-Sail Order, in effect through September 30.
The report notes that Florida is home to the top-three multiday cruise ports in the world, with 59% of all embarkations in the United States taking place there in 2018. Including the corporate and administrative staff of the cruise lines headquartered in Florida, the cruise industry was responsible for over 149,000 jobs in the state totaling US$ 7.69 billion in wages.
The cruise industry resulted in US$ 8.49 billion in direct spending each year within Florida.
The interviews I have conducted with port directors, government officials and business leaders all confirm the importance of the cruise industry to Florida's economy and the urgent need for ships to start sailing again, Sola said. The financial consequences of laid-up cruise ships are being seen in government coffers and the pockets of working men and women. Across Florida, people recognize the vital necessity of the cruise industry contributing to the economy again.
Losses for the 2020 cruise season have been staggering for some of Miami's largest turnaround ports.
Before the pandemic, Port Miami welcomed 6.8 million cruise passengers, a world record. As Florida's busiest cruise port, and one of the largest and busiest ports in the world, Port Miami is responsible for over 30,000 local jobs, US$ 5.8 billion in economic value and US$188 million in local and state taxes.
PortMiami estimates it will tally a US$ 55-million loss this year.
Losses for Port Canaveral are pegged at 79% of its annual passengers and 16,000 individual jobs. With no cruises sailing from the port since early March, though, the annual US$ 1.3 billion that is contributed to the local economy by the cruise industry in Port Canaveral and its surrounding area is at high risk.
Nearly 13,000 people were employed directly by the cruise industry in Port Canaveral in 2019, a number that rises to 23,745 if indirect jobs are included as well.
In Key West -- Florida's only cruise port to function solely as a port of call -- the cruise industry contributes over US$ 85 million in economic benefits, provides 1,250 local jobs and makes up 15% of the city's total tax revenue.
Residents are trying to limit, restrict or even remove the cruise industry from Key West entirely.
Commissioner Sola's report points out that the suspension of the cruise industry within Florida alone has an impact on other industries within the United States. Cruise passengers contributed nearly US$ 2 billion in fares to the airline industry in 2019. They also contributed US$ 1.1 billion to the local economy in Miami-Dade County from related expenses like overnight hotel stays, food and beverage, shopping and transportation.
It is not just large companies that benefit from the cruise industry, Sola said. ”Cruise customers begin and end their voyages by using taxis, eating in restaurants, visiting museums, and shopping in local businesses.