Cancelled cruise ship visit cost local economy £4000,000

A decision to cancel the visit of a cruise ship  to a Dorset port cost the local economy £400,000 – according to local businesses.

A visit of the huge cruise ship Regal Princess to Portland was called off at the last minute amid protests over plans to house asylum seekers on a barge in the port.

Two protests took place on the same day the Regal Princess was due to arrive.

Stand Up to Racism Dorset and the NO TO THE BARGE Group both held protests against plans to house asylum seekers on a barge at Portland Port.

The Bibby Stockholm is due to arrive in Portland Port in the coming weeks to house up to 500 men claiming asylum.

Local residents, MPs, Dorset Council and NHS Dorset have all raised objections to the barge being moored at Portland.

Stand up to Racism held a rally and has branded the plan “completely inhumane”. The No to the Barge group held a separate march.

The Regal Princess which is carrying thousands of passengers decided not to dock at the port on Saturday due to ongoing safety concerns. Many of the passengers were expected to visit nearby holiday town Weymouth.

But the decision has been met with anger and frustration amongst local businesses.

Portland Port has underlined the impact of the non-arrival of Princess Cruise lines’ Regal Princess with more than 3,600 passengers over the weekend.

Portland Port calculated the figure of £400,000 using industry statistics based on spend per head by passengers as well as spend by crew and additional revenues for local transport operators and other suppliers.

The port is in the process of gathering information to establish the full facts behind the cancellation.

Bill Reeves, chief executive of Portland Port, said: “Cruise calls to Portland Port contribute £10m to the local economy every year.

“The visit by the Regal Princess alone would have generated approximately £400,000 for local businesses.

“This includes spending in shops, restaurants, cafes, pubs, tourist attractions, for guides and taxis as well as for those in the supply chain such as bus and coach operators and through indirect spend.

“The port has also lost berthing fees but this is significantly outweighed by the overall cost to the local economy.

“Cruise calls not only create and support local jobs and the economy, they generate significant exposure for the area and help to encourage return visits.

“A great deal of time and effort has been taken to build up our cruise business to diversify revenues at the port and support the local economy, of which we are proud to be a part. The importance of this cruise business cannot be underestimated.

“All other cruise calls are continuing as planned over the remainder of the season. Indeed, we were able to accommodate the Norwegian Dawn on Monday after she requested to arrive early due to bad weather elsewhere.

“She had 2,360 guests on board, around half of which went into Weymouth on Monday evening, spending money in restaurants, cafes, bars and take-aways, and by all accounts having a great time.”

Portland Port is due to welcome a record number of passengers on cruise calls this year, including ships using its new £26m deepwater berth which allows larger vessels to berth.

Earlier this year, the port held trade group Cruise Britain’s summer event in Weymouth and Portland, bring influential industry figures to the area.

Portland Port employs 53 people and has a number of tenants, including cargo businesses, which provide jobs for more than 250 people.