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Cruise bookings are up for 2020, Govt says

David Parody

Cruise bookings are up for 2020, the Gibraltar Government said last night as it lambasted the GSD for attempting to “discredit” the work done to attract visitors to Gibraltar.
This comes after the GSD highlighted a sharp year-on-year drop in cruise calls at Gibraltar and said this was of concern to businesses.
But, in a statement the Government flagged how in response to questions from GBC last year, it gave assurances that the decline in cruise calls for this year was not for reasons concerning Gibraltar.
“The decline in cruise calls this year is due to operational decisions by cruise companies rather than reasons concerning Gibraltar as a destination,” the Government said.
According to the Government, this decline is also affecting neighbouring ports for cyclical reasons and also includes reasons such as ships being taken out of service while they wait for new ships to be delivered, and new itineraries being introduced.
“However what the GSD fail to state is that bookings for 2020 are already up on this year and that passenger numbers will increase next year,” it added.
Describing the GSD’s comments as “reckless”, the Government said the party had shown “once again a fundamental lack of knowledge of the industry, its changeability and challenges”.
“This is evident in their press release where clearly they have no knowledge of the great range and diverse tours being offered in Gibraltar by the excellent private sector ground handlers and service providers in the tourist and retail industry.”
The Government added that Gibraltar remains “extremely attractive” as a port of call for many reasons, not least for extremely competitive berthing rates.
“In the cruise industry Gibraltar is highly regarded as a quality cruise port of call with a very proactive team both at the Gibraltar Tourist Board and at the Gibraltar Port Authority, that are constantly in contact with the cruise industry promoting Gibraltar’s virtues as one of the most important ports of call in the Western Mediterranean.”
Private sector partners of the cruise industry in Gibraltar are themselves extremely active in attracting ships to the Rock and the Government said it is confident that they provide excellent service.
“The GSD also fail to note that according to the last statistical reports, tourism expenditure increased last year.”
Additionally, the Government said a record number of people have stayed in Gibraltar hotels than ever before.
“In respect of the tourism product the Department of the Environment has invested in an unprecedented manner, creating new experiences within the Gibraltar Nature Reserve, Upper Rock in the last few years. The private sector too is investing in new experiences for our visitors.”
The Government said that the GSD’s “scaremongering” was at an irresponsible level, adding that the party “would do well to educate itself in all matters to do with tourism and the environment.”
“The lack of information, objective analysis and knowledge of the subject is blatantly obvious in preparing their statement.”
The Government said it is confident that those in the tourism, hospitality and retail industry have all the information necessary to understand the challenges of this industry, its consistency and strength for the future.