The growing contribution of the international cruise industry to the Shetland economy is underlined in Lerwick Port Authority’s Annual Review for 2017-18.

Turnover for the cruise sector in 2017 was up 3%, consolidating a big increase the previous year and accounting for more than 5% of total port turnover. Further rises are expected in the next two years.

Chairman, Ronnie Gair, notes: “As ever, Lerwick is in the fortunate position of having a diverse customer base and a highlight for the year is the strong performance by the leisure sector, especially cruise calls.”

Despite the continuing slowdown in oil- and gas-related activity, overall turnover held up well in 2017, underlining the strength of the diversity of the port’s business, with income from fishing remaining steady and lifeline ferry services income up slightly.

The Authority experienced a first full-year's operations of the new Mair’s Pier, the extended deep-water Dales Voe quay – where the former Buchan Alpha floating production unit arrived for the largest decommissioning project yet at Lerwick – and extended laydown. The developments represented an investment of around £30 million.

On decommissioning, Mr Gair adds: “There is a strong desire for provision of an ultra-deep quay in the UK, as this is a gap in the market. It is my belief that Lerwick, with its natural deep water and strong track record of decommissioning, is the ideal location for such infrastructure at Dales Voe.”

The Trust Port’s Chief Executive, Sandra Laurenson, commented; “Activity levels were slightly down, as expected, due to the continuing low oil price impacts. At a time where no overall growth is predicted, a period of consolidation will follow delivery of the replacement fishmarket and planned replacement for the harbour vessel, Kebister, with further new investments having to wait until the Authority’s borrowings are reduced.”

A contract for construction of a replacement white fish market, costing around £6.9 million and doubling landings capacity, was recently awarded for completion by early 2020.

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