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Chamber welcomes Govt’s cruise efforts, urges leeway in shore excursions

Photo by Johnny Bugeja

The Chamber of Commerce has welcomed the Gibraltar Government’s the efforts to develop Gibraltar’s cruise business, agreeing with Tourism Minister Vijay Daryanani that the Rock “cannot rest on its laurels” and calling for greater leeway to provide shore excursions.

The Chamber echoed Mr Daryanani and said Gibraltar could not expect to attract more business without improvements to its main tourist attractions and 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,” the Chamber said.

“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.”

The Chamber said that as commercial businesses, cruise operators would “weigh heavily” the commercial benefits of calling at a given port when taking the decision to include a particular port in an itinerary.

It said the sale of shore excursions was an important part of their business and that the greater the potential to sell excursions at a given port, the more likely a cruise company would 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,” the Chamber said.

“An integrated transport plan would facilitate new shore excursions widening the offering from the apes [sic] 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.”

The Chamber noted that other ports such as Cadiz and Malaga were 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,” it added.

‘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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