New Seaports Report shows Florida’s ports poised for recovery in 2021 as fundamentals of cruise industry remain strong

The Florida Seaports Transportation and Economic Development Council (FSTED) has released Seaport Mission Plan: Navigating Beyond the Pandemic, providing in-depth data on COVID-19’s impact, as well as forthcoming opportunities, for Florida’s 15 seaports.

 Prepared by FSTED since 1990, this annual report provides data on cargo and cruise activities at Florida’s seaports, as well as updated international trade data for Florida.

 “While most individual sea-ports experienced declines consistent with the overall trend for 2020, Florida’s 15 seaports are resilient, and we expect to see a near complete recovery in 2021,” said Michael Rubin, FSTED Program Administrator.

     “With $3.3 billion in capital improvements at Florida’s seaports identified over the next five years, we expect our ports to continue playing a leading role in job creation and economic growth.”

Highlights from the 2021 Seaport Mission Plan include:

  • *Waterborne trade value decreased
  • 16% compared to 2019, down $14.1 billion.
  • *Breakbulk cargo grew 8.8% to 7.8 million tons in 2020 yoy.
  • *South and Central America and the Caribbean remained as Florida’s top trade partner region, and accounted for a larger percentage of total trade in 2020 than in 2019.
  • *Japan topped China as Florida’s leading import trade partner in 2020 for the second year in a row.
  • *With COVID-19 bringing cruise sailings to a halt in 2020, Florida’s 158,992 cruise-related jobs, and $8.1 billion in economic activity were severely impacted.
  •      However, fundamentals of the cruise industry remain strong and the combination of pent-up demand and widespread vaccinations are expected to result in a full long-term recovery of the industry.

     Of the $3.3 billion in seaport capital improvements identified over the next five years, more than 70% ($2.3 billion) is slated for Atlantic coast seaports, with the remaining 29+% ($972.8 million) dedicated for Gulf coast seaports. The largest planned investments are for:

  Existing berth rehabilitation and repairs – 25.9%

  Cruise terminals – 20.3%

  Cargo terminals – 19.4%

  Channel and Harbor deepening – 8.9%