CruiseForth set sail to Barcelona to promote East of Scotland destinations
An innovative project which is creating opportunities for the visitor business market with cruise ships arriving in the River Forth, will be extending its engagement to Europe later this month.
CruiseForth, which was established in Rosyth in 2012, and has delivered over 3,000 passengers to Dunfermline in the last three cruise seasons, will be attending the Seatrade Med Exhibition in Barcelona from 16 to 18 September.
CruiseForth’s attendance at the event comes on the back of another successful year for the cruise market on the Firth of Forth, operated by Forth Ports, who welcome over 80 ships a year at Rosyth, South Queensferry, Leith and a new anchorage in Newhaven, bringing a welcome boost to Scotland's tourist market. The cruise market is an important and growing contributor to the local economy. The industry generated around £50 million for the Scottish economy in 2013, a rise of 5% on 2012, and east central Scotland now sees over 80,000 passengers arriving into the east coast destinations each year.
CruiseForth, having grown into a permanent presence at the Rosyth cruise terminal through its team of Welcome Volunteers, expanded to South Queensferry in 2013, where ships carrying up to 3,000 passengers disembark at Hawes Pier, and to the Leith Cruise Terminal in 2014 where it works with Leith Chamber of Commerce members, and the City of Edinburgh Council.
Project Manager Peter Wilson, explained, “CruiseForth was conceived by members of the local tourism association in Dunfermline and West Fife who could see the cruise ship traffic at Rosyth, but had no engagement with it, and port operator Forth Ports, in 2011. Three years on significant advances have been made for local taxi and tour operators, and a wide variety of attractions, who now have opportunities to promote their offer to cruise ship operators and their passengers through partnership working with inbound destination excursion companies.
“We now have a dedicated welcome service provided by volunteers from the Forth Bridges Tourist Group. This has been in operation at Rosyth since 2012 and North Queensferry since 2013 and we have extended the service to Leith this year. We have had great feedback and the success of the volunteers has been recognised with a nomination for a Scottish Thistle Award (Scotland’s tourism industry ‘Oscars’) in the Warmest Welcome category.
“We have also made improvements to the facilities for passengers at Rosyth and funded a courtesy bus service to Dunfermline, funded by Fife Council. At Queensferry the welcome volunteers hand out local maps of the town, explain travel options and are trialling a courtesy bus to Hopetoun House. In Leith, a number of local businesses have seen an increase in trade through information provided in the terminal or on-board. We have also invested in promotion, including a dedicated website www.cruiseforth.com, cruise magazine and targeted advertising.”
Alistair Bruce, General Manager of the Best Western Plus Keavil House Hotel, and Chair of the local tourist association which created the project said "The CruiseForth initiative has identified a gap in the tourism market, and established an excellent promotional and information sharing business. The benefits to Dunfermline and West Fife with the huge uplift in day visitors speaks for itself, but the future potential to involve the local hotel sector in 'stay and cruise' opportunities is just one example of the way in which this idea may grow further."
Ron Kitchin, Managing Director of The Kitchin Restaurant, and Chair of Leith Chamber of Commerce welcomed the development of the project into Leith this year. "What an entrepreneurial and proactive initiative this is, and what a success it is becoming with winners all round from the Cruise liner companies, guests/passengers from all over the world, local and national business, Scotland, and indeed all the volunteers who so clearly love welcoming and assisting all the passengers, helping to improve their cruising experience whilst showcasing all we have to offer."
Diane Brown, manager of Queensferry Ambtion, the local BID company in South Queensferry said “For many years there has been concern that local businesses don’t benefit from the arrival of so many cruise passengers at Hawes Pier. Through CruiseForth, businesses get advance information on which ship is arriving, what language passengers speak, and the programme of excursions planned, - all of which help to improve the engagement on arrival. The development of the courtesy bus to Hopetoun House has meant that an increasing number of passengers are now seeing more of our historic town and what we have to offer.”
Nik Scott- Gray, Business Development Manager at Forth Ports Ltd said “The emergence of CruiseForth complements our strategy of promoting the east coast destinations to the international cruise market. The interface which the CruiseForth project provides between the passengers and the visitor business community has made a positive difference to the way in which shipping companies and the excursion companies view the arrival of their ships and their passengers at their destination. A warm friendly welcome goes a long way and we hope this will see an increase in demand from operators.”