THE Executive Director of the Tourist Board Steph Middleton has been in touch with cruise ship itinerary planners regarding reducing cruise ship clashes to avoid overcrowding in Stanley, Falkland Islands.
Responding to a question from Penguin News, following the subject being raised at Monday’s public meeting, she said: “I have been in discussion with itinerary planners with all the large cruise companies and whilst there have been several changes to our cruise schedule to try to avoid clash days, a lot more work needs to be done on it, and ultimately it might require legislation if the Falkland Islands Government wish to impose restrictions.”
A member of the public passionately raised the subject at the public meeting saying the numbers of passengers should be limited to 3000.
He said “We’ve looked at Kirkwell in Orkeneys, their limit is 5,000 they’ve got better facilities we haven’t got facilities here in 101 different versions for more than 3,000 people ashore at any one time.”
When asked to list the problems faced by clash days Mrs Middleton said: “Tours sold through the ships are generally split between the vessels so fewer people can get on the tour they would like; those offering private tours have to turn many away because they don’t have the capacity to meet the demand and some destinations, they are taking visitors to limit the amount of people that can visit on any one day.”
She added: “Retailers/food providers can only fit so many into their shops/pubs/restaurants so potentially visitors won’t wait, and sales are lost.”
Mrs Middleton also stated that ships cancel due to the weather,” or the harbour is closed due to the weather, then all revenues are lost for the economy and clash days mean double the impact.”
When Penguin News asked if she was not concerned that vessels would simply sail by if attempts were made to tamper with itineraries bearing in mind captains of larger ships were not overly fond of the Falklands as a destination and that they “sail by at the drop of a hat,” Mrs Middleton responded, “I don’t think this is a fair comment.”
She said: “I don’t believe any ship’s captain or officers sail past at the drop of a hat; I believe it is a very considered decision made with weather forecasts and professional judgements. I believe that all the captains do their best to get into port because they experience customer dissatisfaction when any port is missed on the itinerary.”
At the meeting on Monday MLA Gavin Short who holds the portfolio for Tourism explained that the Tourist Board have been extracting feedback from the industry and would be bringing it to the board. He understood that would involve, “what their appetite number wise” might be in terms of tourists
MLA Short said once a number was decided upon, “say for example 5000 …then you’ve got to move it on to say if we stick our toes in and say only one big vessel in town on any one day and nothing else are we willing to take the risk that they say if we make the dog leg to the Falklands we’re not just passing your back door and popping in we’re dropping you… all of these things have to be looked at on a community level because it’s not just going to be government that takes the hit.”