‘Edinburgh is a breathtaking city to arrive into no matter how you get here and, as the cruise industry expands, so does our opportunity to show off to those arriving by ship.”
These are the words of Frank Ross, the convener of economic development at Edinburgh City Council, who is well aware that as a city by the sea, Edinburgh could do better in attracting cruise ship passengers.
In 2014, 74 cruise liners docked in Leith, South Queensferry and Rosyth. Not a bad haul. But the potential is there for more.
Cruise tourism is worth around £50 million a year to the Scottish economy and is growing. Indeed, cruise-related visitors to Scotland are expected to exceed 1.1m visitors by 2029, with Edinburgh clearly a “must-see” destination for many.
The potential is underlined by The Cruise Lines International Association, which reports that the industry is currently showing a worldwide year-on-year growth of seven per cent. Growth is expected both in terms of passenger numbers and average visitor spend.
More than 21m passengers are now considering a cruise each year, with much of this increase the result of increasingly larger (and more luxurious) ships.
Edinburgh aims to increase the number of visits to the city by one-third and intends a ten per cent increase in average visitor spend by 2020.
But to do so we must offer more choice and better facilities. Our story today outlines the embryonic plan to increase the number of cruise ships using Newhaven as their port of call. While Newhaven will increase overall capacity, it will also offer a new option for the smaller ships that will actually deposit passengers on to the dock.
Leith, Rosyth and South Queensferry all have their drawbacks and while Newhaven is not perfect, it is an exciting development and one that is surely welcomed by local businesses.