Marine consultants to look at economic case for cruise terminal

Leading marine consultants have been appointed to look at the economic case for a cruise terminal for Plymouth.

Specialists GP Wild International are compiling a report which will examine in detail the current cruise market, its future trends and the city’s possible place in this growing market.

The company is a leading authority on passenger shipping and cruise markets. Major clients have included CruiseScotland, Monaco and the port city of Dubrovnik.

A consortium comprising Plymouth City Council, Associated British Ports, the Plymouth and Devon Chamber of Commerce, Destination Plymouth and Plymouth Waterfront Partnership have commissioned the company who will be putting together the report over the summer.

Council leader Tudor Evans said: “This is a critical report. If we are going to do this, we need to go into this with eyes wide open. Having a possible location is just one aspect of a complex jigsaw. We need to look at a whole range of issues to get a clear picture of the market and its future directions, the infrastructure needed, the sort of costs we are looking at and some of the unique challenges we face.”

Chief Executive of Plymouth and Devon Chamber of Commerce, Peter Hartland said: “This builds on work already carried out by the chamber and will give us real insight from experts in the cruise market as well as the possible ship size envisaged for a terminal here in Plymouth.”

The study’s scope will include discussions with organisations such as the Ministry of Defence, Queen’s Harbourmaster and the Environment Agency to get an overview of what would need to be achieved to overcome current constraints.

The study will also address the following key aspects:
• To understand the marketplace opportunities, which ships, operators and agents to target and realistic business opportunity predictions
• To understand how cruise shipping would work alongside the Naval port, its activities and control of waters around the Sound
• To analysis the visitor offer of Plymouth and future plans for the city
• To understand existing national and European competition and Plymouth’s potential market share in that context
• To explore these competitors’ plans and investments.
• To get a clear picture of investment necessary to market and promote the city in the cruise market
• To set out the job creation opportunities for the city
• To get an idea of potential visitor numbers and estimates of excursions traffic.
• Should the economic feasibility studies prove compelling, aim to have an operational cruise liner berth in place for the Mayflower 400 commemorations in 2020

A key part of the project will be analysis of world cruise fleet in terms of ship length and passenger capacity and the potential for ships to berth in Plymouth.

Port Manager David Atkin, of Associated British Ports, which own Millbay Docks said: “We all share the same aspirations but need to get a clear picture of future market trends for the cruise industry and how Millbay could play a part in this.
“This also needs to include clear costings and projections in respect of any berth development.”

Chris Arscott, Chair of the Plymouth Waterfront Partnership Business Improvement District representing more than 627 businesses said: “Whilst feasibility studies have been carried out in the past, we’re aligned with our partners in taking a few more months to ensure any investment is sure to provide a maximum return for Plymouth, in terms of the scale of the visitor cruise market, the number of local jobs it could create and the value it could lever in positioning Plymouth as a global destination. We need a swift decision on its viability and, if we proceed, delivery by 2020.”

Amanda Lumley, Chief Executive of Destination Plymouth added: “The cruise market has been identified as a key opportunity for Plymouth in the run-up to the Mayflower 400 commemorations – both in terms of a point of entry for visitors as well as developing commemoration cruises from the USA to the UK.

“The study is a vital piece of work to enable all the partners to understand the value and importance of this untapped market for Plymouth which will leave a legacy beyond 2020.”

About the GP Wild International: A marketing, management and economic consultants with particular expertise in the maritime sector, the company has specialist knowledge of shipping and associated markets, particularly in relation to cruise, ferry and maritime

Previous clients include luxury cruise companies, shipping companies, destinations, the Barbados Government and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines; Scottish Enterprise to evaluate cruise tourism demand for port of Leith (Edinburgh)

The company regularly presents economic impact research to the European Parliament on behalf of Cruise Line International Association.

Hull Forward, the regeneration company, commissioned GP Wild to carry out market analysis as well as additional work on traffic along the Humber to establish if large cruise ships could travel to the city from the North Sea. Recently Hull Council gave the go-ahead to seek a private partner to build a terminal and riverside berth to take cruise ships.