The Chamber very much welcomes the efforts of Minister Daryanani to develop Gibraltar’s cruise business. The Chamber board agrees with The Minister that Gibraltar cannot rest on its laurels and simply expect more business to come without making improvements to our main tourist attractions or enhancing the Gibraltar visitor’s experience.
We all need to keep investing in the product but we also need to ensure that Gibraltar is clean and presentable in order to give cruise passengers and other visitors a unique and memorable visit to the Rock.
One of the reasons which has restricted Gibraltar’s potential is the ability to deal with the increasing number of passengers from larger cruise ships. Gibraltar needs a workable and integrated transport plan where all of the local operators can participate and benefit from moving visitors efficiently around the Upper Rock as well as around town. This would also benefit other local businesses such as shops, bars and restaurants.
Cruise operators are commercial entities and the commercial benefits from calling at a given port weigh heavily when taking the decision to include a particular port in an itinerary. The sale of shore excursions is an important part of their business; the greater the potential to sell excursions at a given port, the more likely that they are going to choose to call at that port. Presently the number of passengers that can go on an excursion in Gibraltar is limited by the constraints of the transport system and the lack of variety of excursions.
An integrated transport plan would facilitate new shore excursions widening the offering from the Apes and St Michael’s Cave to the many sites of interest which are mostly excluded from the current traditional excursion routes. This would also alleviate the pressure on the Upper Rock. It is evident that many passengers that arrive by ship at Gibraltar do not disembark. Increasing the shore excursion offering and introducing an easy to use hop-on/hop-off shuttle service to the centre of town, as the Chamber has proposed, might entice those passengers to disembark for the benefit of Main Street traders and the wider economy beyond the tour excursion operators.
Other ports such as Cadiz and Malaga are constantly upgrading their facilities and offering. That is why they have successfully grown the number of cruise ship calls over the years when Gibraltar’s numbers have remained static at best.
The Chamber has been urging successive governments to develop an integrated transport plan for many years. Without this Gibraltar will lose out on the opportunities presented by a resurgent cruise sector to the benefit of our competitors in the region.
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