Cruise ship study shows big Savannah benefits

By Don Logana - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - A cruise ship study for the city of Savannah is in, and it could mean we'll a cruise ship terminal in the Coastal Empire could mean big business.

Alderman Tony Thomas has been spearheading the cruise ship terminal idea. He showed WTOC the results of an analysis by Florida cruise ship experts, and according to cruise ship analysis,  savannah leads all neighboring cities, already running cruise ships, in all key demographics. It also shows,  savannah could offer a five month extension to islands versus cities north of us.

The study shows, by 2020, Savannah's potential cruise ship visitors a year could grow from 230,000 to 450,000 people.

"When you compare us to Charleston and Jacksonville and Mobile, we've tested far above them in psychographics and demographics. So the advantages to Savannah is to do this.and I mean, when you look at the economic potential, well over $100 million a year, this is just a great opportunity for our city," Thomas said.

Thomas says if the cruise ship terminal moves forward, the target date for starting would be 2014.

Here is a look at some of the other key points the study makes:

Savannah has 56.4 million people within a one day drive of the city, versus 46 million for Jacksonville, 44 million for Charleston and 42 million for Mobile, for population in 2009.

In hypothetical departures from Savannah for 2009 in a one day drive area, Savannah is estimated at 4,060,663 estimated cruisers, based on a three-year average, versus 3.3 million for Jacksonville, 3.1 million for Charleston, and 2.7 million for Mobile.

The Market Analysis summary also shows the sailing length of the current itineraries from Charleston or Jacksonville would be almost the same if these itineraries went out of Savannah.

Versus northern ports, Savannah could offer a five month extension (mid-November to mid-April) of the direct to some island destinations cruise option.

Based on the current growth of the number of cruisers in the one day drive market and beyond, Savannah's potential will grow from 230,000 to 450,000 between now and 2020.

If Savannah matched Jacksonville or Mobile in terms of the capture of the one-day drive market, 230,000 cruisers could have been attracted to Savannah in 2009.

Savannah's tourism industry is growing, and the study shows Savannah is superior to Charleston for many critical tourist preferences. Jacksonville is not ranked in the top destination markets.

The study shows almost 3.5 million cruisers stay overnight in the embarkation port city, and about 500,000 cruisers return to the port city for a vacation.

In conclusion, the study shows Savannah is superior to Jacksonville and Charleston in terms of demographics, the number of potential cruisers within a one day drive, and marquee value, as well as being a warm water port in the winter.

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