Island loses out on cruise trade

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Businesses on the island of Guernsey are counting the cost of 11 cancelled cruise ship calls so far this year.
About 7,000 potential visitors have been lost because rough weather has prevented them being tendered ashore.
The island had been hoping for a bumper year, with more than 100,000 cruise passengers arriving on 79 ships, compared with 63,000 from 69 vessels in 2011.
Island capital St Peter Port has installed new pontoons for tender traffic, but there are no facilities to accommodate the berthing of large vessels – this year’s biggest visitor is expected to be the 3,800-passenger Costa Pacifica.
Ships must anchor in the bay but strong winds and rough seas can make it dangerous to transfer passengers into small tenders.
Guernsey’s harbourmaster, Captain Peter Gill, said: “It’s a matter of passenger safety and the ship’s captain has a responsibility for that. Ordinarily we lose 10-15 per cent … and this year is looking to be worse.”
In February the island’s governing body, the States of Guernsey, announced it was to investigate the business case for constructing a cruise liner berth.
In recommending the research, the Public Services Department estimated the cost at £25-£80m, depending on the type and location of facility proposed.
Surprisingly, Rupert Dorey, president of Guernsey’s Chamber of Commerce, is reported as saying: “One has to really question whether or not that sort of spend is justified in the context of the return.”
On the other hand, the shopkeepers and restaurateurs of St Peter Port must be asking how it is possible to justify not making the investment.
In contrast, Falmouth in Cornwall is going all-out to attract cruise ships and the lucrative trade that comes with them.
Plans are in hand for dredging to provide a deeper channel so that ships can berth instead of tendering ashore from the sheltered waters of the huge natural harbour.
And local businesses are being encouraged to accept euros and US dollars from visiting passengers.
Shopkeeper Jane Thomas told a meeting of the Association of Falmouth Traders: “I took American dollars for the first time in six years. The customer spent £89 so that is £89 I would not have had if I did not accept dollars.”
Town manager Richard Gates is planning to organise a presentation from a High Street bank to advis members on handling and exchanging foreigh currency.
Now all the traders have to do is make sure they are open for business; on a recent bank holiday visit, passengers eager to buy souvenirs were frustrated because there were hardly any shops open.
Mr Gates said he had heard reports of visitors waving credit cards at policemen in the town, asking where they could spend their money.

By | 2012-06-16T10:25:08+00:00 16 June 2012|Cruise destinations|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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