A major opportunity for Scotland in cruise tourism
Potential for over a million visitors annually
A national study into the potential for developing cruise tourism in Scotland has identified significant opportunities to quadruple visitor numbers to almost 1.1 million by 2029.
It examines various scenarios for growth, including the potential for a new cruising ground on the West coast for larger vessels and “Cruising to the Sun” from Scotland.
The study - Cruise Tourism in Scotland – The Way Ahead - commissioned by Cruise Scotland and its partners is launched today, Wednesday 8 December, at Holyrood, Edinburgh.
Cruise Scotland Chairman, Richard Alexander, said: “The cruise sector has tremendous potential to create jobs, make a much bigger contribution to the economy and to help Scotland meet its growth targets for tourism.
“There is a valuable share of opportunities to be secured through increased marketing and the continuation of the improvement in services and facilities which has taken place in recent years with some success.
“Realising the full potential will require investment over the long term. We need to take the challenges and opportunities on board and work together to make the most of our ports, large and small, and the multitude of first-class attractions in an expanding international market.”
Cruise Scotland, aided by Scottish Enterprise, and in partnership with Scottish Development International, VisitScotland and Highlands & Islands Enterprise, commissioned consultants, GP Wild International, to identify the scale of opportunity in cruise tourism and any gaps in the infrastructure needed to cater for future demand, and to make recommendations.
GP Wild concluded: “This is a major prospective opportunity for Scotland. It will need considerable effort and co-ordination at national and local level to achieve success, with careful attention to the many aspects of market development.
“In particular, it will require a sustained and focused marketing effort, careful strategic investments and full co-operation by all interested parties within the country. Given this, the consultants are of the view, assuming normal market conditions, that the projections contained in this report are realisable and may well be exceeded with the right application of effort in Scotland”.
With passenger numbers up from approximately 45,000 in 2000, Scotland is already the market leader in the UK for inbound cruise tourism, attracting around 38% of all calls and 59 of the 101 vessels operating on the Northern European circuit, one of the fastest expanding cruising grounds in the world over the past decade.
The record-breaking 2010 season saw 362 cruise ship calls and 242,719 passengers arriving at the 13 Cruise Scotland ports, generating an estimated £32 million-plus.
The consultants comment that, relative to the European market, Scotland is under performing in attracting cruise operators and the challenges include persuading two leading operators not offering British cruises to do so and to attract more of the cruise ships in Northern European waters, as well as more operators serving the newer Southern European markets.
A range of requirements have been identified in making the most of the opportunities, including investment in key ports and cruise handling facilities, in marketing and guide training, and continued investment in the development of the visitor experience and shore excursion offering.
The study identifies three phases of priorities for the way ahead: short-term – building on existing strengths in the US, UK and German markets and developing expedition cruising; medium-term – developing a new West coast cruising ground product and targeting emerging markets, including Italy, Spain and Canada; and long-term – increasing the share of mainstream cruising and utilising larger and very large vessels, dependent on improvements in infrastructure and facilities.