Two cruise ships cross paths in Malaga port. Salvador Salas
Malaga is becoming well established as a major cruise destination; passenger figures for the city remain positive while other leading ports such as Barcelona are losing business. This upward trend puts Malaga in good stead for a share of the thousands of jobs the cruise industry is expected to create over the next few years.
The European Commission calculates that cruise tourism could generate some 100,000 jobs in the EU between now and 2020. Brussels estimates a growth of between two and three per cent during the same period, although it warns that current obstacles in the way of research and innovation in the maritime sectors must be removed.
The figures were reported in the “Blue Growth” study, which analyses the development possibilities of economies linked to the sea and estimates that maritime sectors provide work for 5.4 million people within the EU. The figures came to light just as Malaga was about to launch into one of the port’s busiest times with 16 cruises due to arrive in the last ten days of September.
Málagaport figures maintain that some 22,000 cruise tourists are expected in the city during this period, marking the start of the peak cruising season which traditionally covers the months of October and November.
According to the Blue Growth report it is not just the numbers of ships and passengers that look set to rise. The industry will increase its employment creation capacity thanks to measures such as support for innovating small and medium-sized businesses, intelligent solutions to launch new sectors and product promotion. With these measures the European Commission believes that the employment figure could increase from 5.4 to seven million jobs by 2020 with a Gross Value Added of 600 billion euros.
Cruising is only a small part of the report which identifies an entire “blue” economy related to oceans, seas and coasts. This includes areas as far reaching as aquaculture (to encourage healthy eating) or the extraction of sea minerals, an activity that could “grow from practically zero to five billion euros over the next ten years and up to 10 billion euros by 2030”.
Following the publication of the report, the Commission is preparing more specific measures to study and promote growth that will be negotiated with the 27 member states and the interested parties. Furthermore the ministers of the European Union will broach the issue at a meeting on maritime and marine policy in October in Cyprus.
Back in Malaga, by the end of the year it is expected that some 700,000 cruise passengers will have docked in Malaga port in 2012. The figure for July had already chalked up a year on year increase of 14 per cent.