More and more British ports are hoping to attract cruise ships bringing thousands of passengers to visit their local attractions and spend thousands in their shops.
I recently reported on the success of Ilfracombe in north Devon, and this week Poole Harbour announced plans for a £25 million marina development which will include a cruise ship berth.
But the latest scheme to catch my eye must surely be a joke. I had to check the date when I saw this image of the 150,000-ton Queen Mary 2, pride of the Cunard fleet, squeezed into a harbour alongside fishing vessels and pleasure boats.
No, it’s not April 1; this is someone’s fanciful idea idea of what a giant liner would look like, shoe-horned into a tiny fishing port.
One glance at the Google Maps aerial view of Eyemouth, near Berwick-upon-Tweed in the Scottish Borders, shows that the harbour’s breakwaters would probably exclude anything much larger than a Sunseeker gin palace.
But that hasn’t stopped the local officials from dreaming – or the local paper from creating a ridiculous Photoshop image.
South of Scotland MSP Jim Hume has welcomed the plan to revive the harbour during “a difficult time for the fishing industry.” He said: “Eyemouth is already a popular destination for day trippers and short break visitors, and there could be scope for building on this by making the port available for use by cruise liners.”
Douglas Younger, chair of the town council, welcomed the suggestion “with open arms.”
“It’s very encouraging news that this idea is being considered for Eyemouth,” Mr Younger said. “We desperately need more people to come to the town and I think it would be the perfect dropping off place or for people to board,” he told the Berwickshire News.
It was left to East Berwickshire councillor Michael Cook to inject some sense into the proceedings, and to prove why the picture above is such a nonsense.
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He also seems to think there are other ways the community can make the harbour profitable, insisting it would be important to balance any possible gains against existing uses such as fishing, dive and charter boats, and leisure sailing craft; and with potential new activity, such as servicing offshore wind farms.
Seems like there might not be such a warm welcome for cruise passengers in Eyemouth after all.