University Of Tasmania
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Measuring cruise passenger dispersal through technology

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Where do cruise ship passengers go once their cruise ends, and can we accurately measure their mobility? As cruise ships lie idle during the COVID-19 pandemic, debate continues over the relative worth of the cruise ship market. In addition to concerns about environmental impacts and employment practices of cruise companies (Higgins-Desbiolles 2020), questions about passenger dispersal, expenditure, and mobility (or lack thereof) remain highly topical.

Traditionally, data on cruise ship passengers’ mobility has been generated by surveys, requiring passengers to recollect where they travelled during transit stops; a method prone to inaccuracy (Shoval et. el. 2011; Hardy et al. 2017). To overcome this limitation, researchers (see Shoval et al. 2020; Ferrante et al. 2018; Navarro-Ruiz, 2020; Domènech et al. 2020) have combined surveys with GPS (Global Positioning System) technology to track passenger dispersal during visits to transit destinations. De Cantis et al. (2016) found passengers dispersed only an average maximum distance of 3km from their arrival port during transit. Recently, onshore cruise activity has been conceptualised; Esteve-Pérez and Garcia-Sanchez (2015) defined specific geographical zones that passengers move within, Navarro-Ruiz (2020) defined nodes through which mobility and expenditure could be examined, and Domènech et al. (2020) explored characteristics of the built environment (e.g., restaurants, souvenir and fashion shops) that positively impact frequency of visitation and time spent.

While researchers have explored the behaviour of transit passengers, data regarding the mobility of cruise ship passengers upon their final departure from a cruise ship is limited. This preliminary study seeks to overcome this gap by using technology to explore the mobility of domestic and international cruise ship passengers at the end of their cruise in Sydney, Australia. Sydney is an iconic cruise location; in 2018/2019 it attracted 553,985 domestic and 69,493 international passengers (Port Authority of New South Wales 2019). This study is part of research assessing the impact of factors such as demographic status, travel party size and repeat visitation on dispersal.


Publication title

Annals of Tourism Research



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College Office - College of Arts, Law and Education


Pergamon-Elsevier Science Ltd

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The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford, England, Ox5 1Gb

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© 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Socio-cultural issues in tourism