Image: Liza Agudelo

Social and Ecological Impacts of Cruise Tourism

Destination readiness assessment of 6 cruise destinations in the Caribbean

Within the tourism sector, the cruise industry is developing rapidly, and becoming a mayor player. The demand for cruising has increased by 68% in the last ten years and the business is spreading with 24 Millions of passengers around the globe (CLIA).The main cruise destinations include some of the WWF’s priority areas and partner countries of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). 34% cruise itineraries are going to the Caribbean and close to 19% to the Mediterranean. The Asian continent is in the ascendance, adding potential new passengers and opening new cruise destinations.

The cruise sector is a direct stakeholder for marine and coastal protection. Impacts on environment and destinations are considerable: water and waste discharge; infrastructure and sourcing requirements; and deployment of people at destinations. Partnerships with the cruise sector are adopt better practices at industry level, influence policy, regulation and management at destination level, advocate for sustainable tourism with all stakeholders ( employees, travellers, destinations and communities), and affect markets positively in support of marine conservation by businesses and consumers.

Planet 4 People was engaged by WWF Germany to conduct a cruise destination review.  The study gave information about destination readiness to handle the socio-economic and environmental impacts derived from the cruise industry and cruise dependent businesses. Diverse destinations were selected reflecting different levels of development, dependency and regulation. The destinations are Cozumel (Mexico), Belize City and Harvest Caye Belize , Roatán (Honduras) , Limón (Costa Rica), St. Lucia and Puerto Plata (Dominican Republic).

Each chapter of thematic analysis leads to a set of conclusions and key findings, as well as examples of best practices. These are intended as guidance and help build towards appropriate and substantial measures to reduce the pressure on marine and coastal ecosystems and provide sustainable livelihoods, through a partnership model, for the local population.

  • Provide an overview of the destination readiness to receive cruise tourism.
  • Assess good and bad practices.
  • Evaluate infrastracture.
  • Provide recommendations on how to partner with cruise industry and local stakeholders to address the readiness of the cruise destinations.
WWF Germany and GIZ
Country of Project
Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, Saint Lucia
Expected Outcome
  • Snapshot of the destination readiness.
  • Recommendations for indepth studies of the region.
  • List of good practices that can be shared.

Like this project?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter