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N. American agents forecast higher cruise sales, passenger spending

N. American agents forecast higher cruise sales, passenger spending
North American travel agents expect notable growth in the number of cruises people take in 2016 and an increase in passenger spending. Some 83% of agents forecast their sales volume to increase in the coming year, according to a survey conducted at the end of 2015 by Cruise Lines International Association.

Bookings for river and ocean cruises are projected to rise more than other forms of travel, CLIA's Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook Report found.

Agents don't expect consistent growth across all geographic segments and price categories, though. The study suggested the cost and hassle of air travel seems to be discouraging consumers from committing to international ports and destinations in favor of domestic and US-based cruises, especially the Caribbean and Alaska.

When it comes to spending, 77% of agents surveyed expect people to pay more for cruises in 2016. Nearly one-third estimate increases in the 1% to 5% range, while one-quarter see increases of more than 10%. Only 3% of agents think spending on cruises will decline.

Plus, travelers are buying cruises earlier than in the past, the survey found, with the strongest growth in bookings nine to 12 months before sailing.

Multigenerational families are embarking on cruises, a trend CLIA said should hold long-term benefits for the business since the cruise habit can become ingrained in younger consumers.

Agents are 'invaluable in helping us understand the strength of the business and perceptions in the marketplace, according to Cindy D'Aoust, acting ceo, CLIA. 'Our travel agent community is on the frontline with consumers, which is why we felt it was important for us to create this quarterly Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook to aggregate and track their insights,' she said.

Approximately 700 agents participated in the survey.

Agents wishing to participate in the quarterly surveys can email [email protected].

The full report is available here.