This is a response to Rudo de Graaf’s article ‘Stakeholders’ perception on cruise tourism in Port Vila, Vanuatu‘
My name is Bart Koper, and I currently work for Zeetours as a sales representative. We are part of the German E-hoi/E-Domizil group. Basically, we are a tour operator specialized in cruise holidays worldwide.
The cruising industry is indeed a booming business. In spite of the growing climate awareness, tourists see many advantages of cruising. Based on what I hear from my clients (first time and repeat cruise tourists) what that they like is that they can see so much, visit so many places without having to pack and unpack each time, and indulge in all the luxury, the ease and the culinary possibilities.
And within that thought the problem of the cruising industry might also lie: The clients want to see as much as possible in a short period of time. Cruisers embark in a port normally around 8 am, do a tour (mostly booked via the cruise lines) and come back to the ship. Some guests ask for a drop-off in the city centre, but most guests will go back to the convenience of the ship. They feel that they have already paid for lunch and sometimes their beverages, so why spend more ashore?
So, the opportunities for locals to make bigger profits on “port days” (days when a ship is in port) are indeed limited. Restaurants are not likely to profit from cruisers, although I do see a lot of cruisers buying a cup of coffee/cappuccino and something besides it. Shops selling touristy products will be the ones profiting the most, because a lot of cruisers buy magnets, hats, t-shirts etc. from each port they visit.
The ones that truly profit from cruise ship visit are local authorities, because they claim the taxes. Then the major question is: Do the authorities use the taxes for the benefit of the inhabitants in the harbour/port areas or not? Another issue is that the cruising industry chooses ports partly based on local taxes. If they choose a more expensive port, this automatically means that the price of the cruise will rise and then fewer guests will book a cruise, because in the end even you and I want a cheap holiday (within certain conditions).
This paper is truly what the cruise industry and all who are dealing with this industry needs, because we need to have an open discussion about our impact and our goals. I personally feel we should all cruise once in our lives. During the cruise we do need to be aware of how we want the places we’ve visited to be left for the next visitors and how we can leave the city/port area liveable for the residents.
The paper focuses on quite a specific geographical area. I would also be interested in the impact in well-known cruise regions such as the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. For example, when ships go to Rome, they dock at Civitavecchia. I would dare to say that 95% of the passengers go directly to Rome and leave Civitavecchia for what it is. I wonder what the impact on such places is. We even have a similar case in the Netherlands: IJmuiden. Almost all the passengers going to IJmuiden just want to visit Amsterdam, because what’s there to see and do in and around IJmuiden?
In the Caribbean the impact might even be more “devastating”. For example, in Sint-Maarten, where on some days 6 -10 ships are in port (docked or at anchor) with an average of 2,500 passengers per ship.
I am therefore looking forward to more research on the cruising industry, its impact and its possibilities, and I am looking forward to maybe seeing you on a ship one day.