Cruising - The sustainability debate continues

Thursday September 13, 2012

Last week’s Tourism Society debate, “Cruising, is it beneficial to all destinations?”, was described as ‘heated with passion’ by one attendee as the panel chaired by William Gibbons, Director, Passenger Shipping Association, and delegates expressed diverse views on the possible impacts, good and bad, of visiting the world’s one thousand ports across the seven continents.

Mark Watson, Executive Director, Tourism Concern, made a comparison between cruising and all-inclusive resorts, noting both stifle the growth of sustainable types of tourism, offer little benefits to host destinations and trap locals into making decisions to favour the multinationals. David Selby, Managing Director, Travelyields, noted cruising adds the benefit of increased access points to sites such as Petra in Jordan which were notoriously hard to reach.  Keith Blundell MTS, Former Head of Tourism, Liverpool, described Liverpool’s cruise ships as simply big coaches full of day visitors, and creating itineraries with free time for spending and encouraging the crews ashore on their days off are two key elements of destination success. 

Sue Millar FTS, President, ICOMOS International Cultural Tourism Committee, used the Costa Concordia disaster as an example of the risks posed when taking such large ships to small islands yet concluded that with a growing industry there was plenty of opportunity for the cruise companies and local destinations to work together to create a long term solution. Bringing locals onto the ships to sell goods, meet tourists etc was one example of how to increase cultural experiences and increase tourism revenue at a local level.