Hunter leads cruise 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 filed during the 82nd Regular Legislative Session as a result of numerous town hall meetings I hosted throughout District 32.
At those town hall meetings, I was asked why the cruise industry has not expanded to the South Texas coastline, so I was very pleased when Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus named me as the co-chair of this interim committee.
Bringing the cruise industry to South Texas has been on the minds of numerous people in our area for years. The Cruise Industry Committee will let us work with the travel industry to study the possibility of bringing cruise ships to the South Texas coast and the economic impact it can have on our region and 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 15 million passengers took cruises in 2010. Of that 15 million, approximately 11 million were from North America.
This increase in passengers has resulted in a large impact on the annual occupancy of the cruise ships. The cruise industry also has added 12 new ships to their lines. Following historical data since 1980, it is estimated that the annual increase of passengers is around 7.4 percent. 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 more than $300,000 in onshore 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 operators locate a departure out of one of the ports south of Calhoun County and north of Cameron County.
Using 2010 census data, South Texas is home to more than two million people, as well being close to more than two million people in the San Antonio area 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.
If you have questions regarding any of the information mentioned in this article, please do not hesitate to call my Capitol or District Office.
Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi, is the District 32 State Representative. Contact him at E2-808, P.O. Box 2910, Austin TX 78768; (512) 463-0672, the district office at (361) 949-4603 or todd.hunter@house. state.tx.us.