Europeans account for almost a third of the world’s cruisers according to new research.

Almost 5m Europeans booked a cruise holiday in 2009 – a rise of 50 per cent in just five years, according to the European Cruise Council.

Passengers made 23.8m visits to European ports last year.

The European cruise industry now generates more than €34 billion of goods and services with the figures showing the growing importance to Europe of cruising in terms of wealth, tourism and providing nearly 300,000 jobs.

More than 4.8 million passengers joined their cruise in Europe and spent €1.3 billion on services including airfares, accommodation, tours, food and port fees – an increase of 7.6% on 2008.

Passengers also spent €1.45 billion while visiting ports during their cruise holiday, 1.7% up on 2008.

ECC Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MSC Cruises Pierfrancesco Vago said:

“The figures released today clearly demonstrate that the European cruising industry is a resilient business which can deliver valuable economic output.

“The core reason for this success is the appeal of a cruise holiday – it offers such an incredible array of choices for all ages, from luxury to budget, while consistently providing high standards and exceptional value for money.”

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