Cruise passengers contributing to the islands' economy. | Miquel À. Cañellas


According to a report on behalf of the Balearic Ports Authority, cruise ship tourism generates a direct economic benefit of 128.1 million euros and a total benefit of over 250 million euros.

The report was the work of the Chamber of Commerce, the university and the Balearic Institute for Advanced Social Studies. Catalina Barceló, the research director at the Chamber of Commerce, says that the multiplier effect of cruise tourism is twice as great as the direct spend. Individual ships, the report concludes, can produce an average economic benefit of over 325,000 euros (which obviously depends on factors such as size of ship)

In Palma this average benefit is at its highest - almost 400,000 euros. It drops to 215,000 in Ibiza, to 77,000 in Mahon and to 41,000 in Alcudia. The figure of 128.1 million euros is broken down to show that cruise passengers in transit (spending an average of four hours in port) generate almost half of this (62.6 million euros). Ships using a home base generate 28.4 million, crews 14 million, with the rest accounted for by shipping companies and airport activity.

In terms of direct spending in port (or elsewhere on the islands), 55% goes on shopping, 17% is for restaurants, six per cent for excursions and the remainder is spread among the likes of taxis, hire cars, buses and museums.

Other figures include the number of jobs - some 5,700 - and the amount of tax revenue: 21.3 million euros of IVA (VAT).

Joan Gual de Torrella, the president of the ports authority, says that the study was carried out in order to provide objective and rigorous data. Cruise tourism, he observed in presenting the report, is surrounded to a large extent by "ignorance". Opinion is dominated by emotion, whereas the report provides objective data.

Cruise tourism, he added, "contributes to tourism diversification because it lengthens the season and also redistributes income". Cruise tourists, furthermore, help to promote the islands to other tourists.

On the tourist tax, which will be applied to all cruise ships regardless of length of stopover as from next year, Gual suggested that it could contribute to helping achieve a balance between carrying capacity (that of ports where ships stop over) and the number of tourists who come.