Cruise Industry Study Committee
Senate Concurrent Resolution (SCR) 5, known as the cruise industry bill, was filed as the Senate companion to House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 29 which I was proud to have the opportunity to file during the 82nd Regular Legislative Session. These resolutions were filed as a result of numerous town hall meetings which I hosted throughout District 32. At the town hall meetings I was asked why has the cruise industry not been expanded to the South Texas coastline. For these reasons, I was very pleased when Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus named me as the Co-Chair of this interim committee.
The discussion about bringing the cruise industry to the South Texas coast has been on the minds of numerous people in our area for years. The Cruise Industry Committee will give us the opportunity to work with the travel industry in order to study the possibility of bringing cruise ships to the South Texas coast and the economic impact it can have on our region and the State of Texas as a whole. In short, this committee will hopefully help bring cruise ship business a step closer in recognizing that the South Texas coastline is a great location for the travel and tourism industry.
According to a cruise industry overview performed by the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, a record number of an estimated fifteen million passengers took cruises in 2010. Of that fifteen million, approximately eleven million were out ofNorth America. This increase in passengers has resulted in a large impact on the annual occupancy of the cruise ships. The cruise industry has also added twelve new ships to their lines. Following historical data since 1980, it is estimated that the annual increase of passengers is around 7.4%. The recent large annual increase shows a clear desire of people to take advantage of sea travel.
Utilizing a 2009 economic report compiled by the Cruise Line International Association, North American cruise lines, their employees and passengers produced approximately $35 billion in gross economic output in the United States. The cruise industry also generated 313,998 jobs paying out $14.23 billion in wages and salaries. During this same period, cruise industry direct spending was estimated at $17.5 billion dollars. Additionally, it is projected that a cruise ship requires 950 crew members and that those crew members spend over $300,000 in on shore spending in the ship’s U.S. homeport. It is clear that the cruise industry represents a possibly significant economic boost to South Texas if the cruise industry would choose to locate a departure port out of one of the ports located south of Calhoun County and north of Cameron County.
Using 2010 census data, South Texas is home to over two million people, as well as having a close proximity to over two million people in the San Antonioarea and a strong North Mexico market. At the end of the day, South Texas represents one of the fastest growing regions in the state. Along with the population in South Texas and its surrounding areas, the region offers a robust tourism industry, a wealth of natural resources and deep water ports which could be used to host a cruise line.