Cruise lines to boost passenger capacity by 43%

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WASHINGTON -- The cruise industry expects to increase its passenger capacity by 43% by 2002, more than twice the rate of growth compared with the past five-year period, according to a study commissioned by the International Council of Cruise Lines.

The study, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Wharton Economics Forecasting Associates, found the cruise industry's strong growth throughout the 1990s generated an average annual increase of 6% to 10% in cruise passengers embarking from North American ports, spurring the lines to introduce some 41 new vessels.

As a result, cruise lines, their passengers and their U.S. suppliers poured $11.6 billion into the U.S. economy in 1997. The study projects that figure will jump to $18.3 billion by 2002. Direct spending in 1997 by cruise lines and passengers on goods and services in the U.S. was $6.6 billion, generating 176,433 jobs, according to the study.

The overall impact of the cruise industry on the U.S. economy has risen sharply since the ICCL, a trade group representing 17 passenger cruise lines, released a similar study in 1993.

Then, the industry's economic impact was estimated at $6.3 billion, including direct spending by cruise lines and passengers of $4.6 billion, generating 134,780 jobs.

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