Full ahead for Scottish Ports' record cruise season
Scottish ports are set to attract a record-breaking number of passengers this summer – up more than 50% on three years ago when a national study identified the huge potential of the international industry to boost the country’s tourism trade.
With 463 vessels scheduled, down three on 2012, the trend to larger ships will help increase the passenger total to an estimated 407,425, up from last year’s best-yet figure of 350,745 when the market was worth around £46.6 million to the Scottish economy.
The forecast is revealed ahead of a return by marketing organisation, Cruise Scotland, to Cruise Shipping Miami, the industry’s premier event, from 11-14 March. In December, Scotland was named “Destination of the Year” at the prestigious Seatrade Cruise Insider Awards 2012.
The passenger forecast for 2013 is 51.7% up on 2010 when there were 369 calls and 268,481 passengers. That season was followed by publication of a national study, Cruise Tourism in Scotland – The Way Ahead, commissioned by Cruise Scotland and its partners, which identified the potential to quadruple visitor numbers to almost 1.1 million by 2029.
Cruise Scotland Chairman, Richard Alexander, said: “The global industry’s ongoing expansion and intensified and sustained marketing by Cruise Scotland, our members individually and others, along with Scotland’s many attractions, are helping to bring more visitors to Scotland in a very competitive sector.
“However, the continuing growth for UK cruise ports is under potential threat from stricter interpretation of checks by the UK Border Force since last summer on passengers – including EU residents – arriving from foreign ports. This could be a crunch year for industry reaction, with concern already being expressed by cruise lines that this could act as a deterrent to ships calling at UK ports in the future.
“With the situation overshadowing success to date and optimism for the future at a time when our members are reporting encouraging bookings for 2014, we and others are continuing to lobby to have the situation resolved through a risk-based approach to checks.”
Previously, passenger manifests were checked in advance via agents. The system now involves face-to-face checks for passengers, either on arrival on smaller vessels – causing delays to tight schedules ashore - or onboard larger vessels by Border Force officials, resulting in additional costs and inconvenience for operators.
Cruise Scotland has 16 full members, including 14 ports and two ground handlers, and two associate members and is continuing to recruit. The organisation is supported by VisitScotland, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Development International and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
Cruise Lines making maiden visits to Scottish ports in 2013 include Iberocruceros, at Edinburgh and Invergordon with Grand Mistral, and Carnival Cruise Line, at Invergordon and Greenock with Carnival Legend.
MSC Cruises and Celebrity Cruises which have called previously at Scottish ports have maiden visits in 2013 with their large vessels MSC Magnifica, at Edinburgh, Greenock, Invergordon, Kirkwall and Lerwick, and Celebrity Infinity at Greenock and Invergordon. There are a number of other vessels making maiden calls at our member ports.
Cruise Scotland will be participating at Seatrade Europe – Cruise & River Cruise Convention, from 24-26 September, in Hamburg.