AROUND 50 delegates attended the first Cruise Business Seminar in Southampton.

The event was aimed at improving the area’s excursion offering for the hundreds thousands of cruise passengers who visit the port each year.

Led by Southampton City Council, the Leisure Excursions for Cruise & Conference also opened up opportunities for attendees to network.

Kay Greenway, director of Cruise Britain, summarised today’s global cruise industry, explaining that there had been a 62% increase in the demand for cruising from 2005 to 2015 and identifying the four dominant markets as the US, Germany, Britain and Australia.

Kay also highlighted Southampton’s scope for potential as a cruise port as it has already been identified as Europe’s busiest turnaround port.

Southampton is also set to welcome more new ships which will call the city their home port in the near future including two P&O, one Cunard, and two Saga, strengthening its potential yet further.

The seminar, held at the Harbour Hotel, also welcomed Andrew Bateman, director of Visit Hampshire and Emalene Hickman of Mayflower 400 to introduce their respective projects, highlighting their potential for boosting UK inbound tourism.

The conference was set up with government funding maximise the economic impact of the rising number of international cruise passengers who already dock into Southampton and Plymouth.

The partnership will target visitors from Germany, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and the US with a suite of bookable leisure excursions encouraging visitors to step ashore and explore the ports and surrounding counties.

The US market is Hampshire’s most valuable overseas visitor market and is worth nearly £40m per annum.

Event organiser Laura Campbell said: “This event was entirely tailored towards supporting Cruise Excursion companies to find products that match their requirements and enable them to build a marketable excursion itinerary. We have been absolutely overwhelmed with the positive response that the event received and we are looking forward to organising more of these events in the coming months.”