Appreciation of input and maximising local opportunities

The essential contribution of frontline service providers in Shetland to the islands' record-breaking cruise industry was highlighted today (Friday 9 November 2018) at a lunch event hosted by Lerwick Port Authority.

“The commitment of the wide-ranging supply chain in providing a warm welcome for thousands of passengers and responding to varied requirements is a key to the growing cruise traffic through the harbour,” said Port Authority Chief Executive, Sandra Laurenson. “Our appreciation of this is echoed in feedback from cruise line operators in a highly-competitive industry.

Shetland has been scored highly on appeal and satisfaction of the visitor experience, including friendliness, things to see, safety and cleanliness.

Ms Laurenson added: “Today’s get-together is a big thank you to providers for the ship-bought services, a review of the recent, highly successful season and a look ahead to more opportunities in even busier times in 2019 and beyond.”

The network includes ships’ agents, quayside meet-and-greet teams, coach drivers, tour guides, visitor attraction staff, security/safety services and pier dispatchers. Between March and October, they welcomed 91 vessels and over 90,000 passengers.

Jolene Garriock, from shore excursion provider, Island Vista, commented: “In a very busy, successful season, we handled over 27,000 guests buying official shore excursions, with many favourite locations visited. New tour options proved very popular. We were helped by our professional guides, suppliers and venues to provide a high quality experience. Planning of the coordination for a busy 2019 season is well underway.”

Darron Smith, Manager of tour provider, Mousa Boats, said: “We had a great 2018 season, selling full package deals in conjunction with our coach operator, JA & JD Nicolson’s. Our guides did a tremendous job looking after our cruise guests - more than twice as many as the previous season. We are taking bookings for 2019, which is fast shaping-up to be even busier.”

There are already 115 vessels booked for next year - an increase of 20% - bringing more than 91,000 passengers in a season extending from mid-March to mid-October.

Today’s guests were given an insight into the Port Authority’s year-round marketing programme, including membership of Cruise Scotland, Cruise Europe and Cruise Lines International Association and participation in industry exhibitions internationally.

Plans will be revealed for a series of workshops in early 2019 to help the wider support sector make the most of its involvement in coming years by adding value to an expanded offering. A general session on the cruise industry will be followed by specific workshops, including transport, product requirements and retailing.

The workshops will be supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Shetland Islands Council and VisitScotland.

The Port Authority’s future vision for developing cruise traffic includes possible dredging to increase vessel berthing capacity and a longer-term proposal to create a new deep-water berth in the town centre for cruise ships.

“By optimising and expanding supply chain participation and working together as a team, we can realise the potential and maximise returns for those involved and for the islands’ economy,” said Ms Laurenson who retires next week after more than 40 years with the Authority and the predecessor Harbour Trust.

As previously announced, she will be succeeded by the current Deputy Chief Executive and Harbourmaster, Captain Calum Grains.

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