INCREASES in luxury cruise liners docking in the Bay will see the local economy benefit to the tune of about R25-million over a five-month period. Latest shipping schedules show 25 liners, carrying about 14 400 passengers and 6 000 crew members, docking in the Port Elizabeth harbour between November last year and April.
Of these, 10 have already docked, with the rest due to arrive before mid-April.
Figures for the same period last year show only 15 liners docked in the Bay.
According to the SA Cruise Tourism Report, the total net spending nationally by passengers on cruise liners was about R472million in 2010, an annual figure expected to increase to R911-million by 2025.
Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism chief executive Mandlakazi Skefile welcomed the increase in liner traffic, saying each passenger spent about R1 500 a day while sightseeing in and around the Bay.
This figure excluded the buying of souvenirs and gifts.
In addition, each crew member aboard the liner spent about R500.
“Most crew members will go shopping or head for lunch/fast food and see the sights by themselves. A lot just look for affordable internet cafes,” Skefile said.
“Most cruise ships will see 45 to 60% of passengers booking shore excursions. The remainder will either book independently through the internet or find something on the day.”
“About 5 to 10% will not get off the vessel due to illness, walking difficulties or to enjoy quiet time on board and so on.”
Other money-generating aspects, related to the ship itself, could easily be more than R250 000, she said.
Skefile said they had strategically targeted passenger liner companies as part of their marketing campaign.
“We are very excited about the increase and will continue to facilitate the marketing of the destination for this niche market in order to sustain and increase the numbers . . .
“Nelson Mandela Bay is privileged to have a port which facilitates stops for cruise-liner tourism, enabling passengers from around the globe to disembark and discover the destination’s attractions, adding to the tourism spin-off for the local economy.”
To make visits more enjoyable, her office assisted passengers with prearranging tours and tour guides.
Tourism expert Peter Myles said the Bay’s eco-tourism was a major drawcard.
“I have no doubt that having the Addo Elephant National Park in such close proximity . . . is an attraction for cruise ships wishing to offer their passengers a land-based tourism excursion while docking in the harbour,” he said.
“Passengers can also enjoy scuba diving and whale- and dolphin-watching excursions.”
With plans under way to establish a waterfront-type development at the harbour, Myles said: “Just imagine how we could improve the appeal of the Port of Port Elizabeth as a cruise line destination when we have a waterfront development including a worldclass marina.”
SOURCE: Gareth Wilson, The Herald newspaper