Travel firm cruises into NI with new investment

Invest Northern Ireland has announced its support for a £400,000 investment by UK cruise company Cruise118, which will create a home working division and sales facility in Northern Ireland.

Cruise118 was established earlier this year by two senior directors from one of the UK’s leading tour operators. They aim to exploit opportunities in the cruise holiday market which is estimated to be worth £2 billion in the UK alone in 2008/09, and is growing between 12 and 15 per cent every year.

The company is offering opportunities to experienced travel sales and customer service staff. The work from home flexibility means that a number of areas of NI could benefit from the investment which aims to deliver over £650,000 in wages and salaries over the next 2 years. Invest NI has offered £92,000 of support towards the project.

The NI operation is seen as integral to Cruise118’s plans to become a leading provider of luxury cruise holidays to customers across the UK and ROI. Home working is increasing in popularity with Northern Ireland recording more than double the rate of growth against the UK average over the last decade - according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

Mal Barritt, Director of Cruise118 says: “We are offering opportunities for experienced travel sales and customer service people to work from home. This flexible model has worked extremely well for a number of other companies in similar niche sectors and we are confident it will deliver benefits to both the employees and Cruise118.”

“With a highly experienced management team, all of which have worked at a senior level within some of the UK’s most well known travel and tour operators, we are confident that Cruise118 will be well placed to hit the ground running and quickly gain a share of the £2 billion cruise holiday market.

“In establishing the company earlier this year, our team carried out detailed research into all aspects of the business, particularly regarding skills availability. We have been greatly impressed with the quality of NI’s sales and customer service agents and believe that the people we will recruit in Northern Ireland will be integral to our business growth.”

Donal Durkan, Invest NI Director of Life Sciences and Creative adds: “Cruise118 has identified a high value niche within the tourism sector and is set to rapidly grow its export business thanks to in depth market knowledge and experience, coupled with local skills.

“Its NI operations, will form approximately 50 per cent of the company’s UK sales team, and will therefore be a crucial resource that will help to place the company in an even more competitive market position.”