DublinTown, the not for profit organisation charged with creating a welcoming and economically viable city environment in Dublin, has urged Dublin Port to provide clarity in relation to its decision to severely restrict cruise ship tourism to Ireland. Dublin Port recently announced that it is to cut cruise ship calls to the city by more than 50%, from 172 in 2018 to 80 in 2021. Between March and October this year, the country will receive almost 300,000 passengers and crew and from cruise ships stopping in Dublin Port, before moving on to destinations like Cobh, Waterford and Belfast.
Richard Guiney, CEO of DublinTown, has made a number of requests of Dublin Port, stating: “DublinTown, on behalf of its members, would like to ask the port to make an unambiguous statement on its intentions in relation to cruise tourism.
“Cruise tourism has become an important element of trade for many city businesses. This ranges across independent retail, publicans and coach operators. Cruise tourists actively seek Irish craft and spend handsomely within the city. Based on feedback from both the port and cruise line companies, many were optimistic, that this trade was set to grow, particularly through home porting where the cruise both begins and ends in Dublin. Cruise lines have let it be known that without Dublin, Ireland becomes an unattractive destination with serious consequences for Cork, Waterford and Belfast. We have seen that Northern Ireland’s First Minister has raised the issue with Minister Shane Ross.
“In recent weeks we have heard mixed statements and intentions. There is a need for clarity. We would like Dublin Port to answer the following questions?
There will be 172 cruise ships visiting Dublin Port in 2019. We were told that there will be 80 in 2021. However, it would appear that many of these are smaller ships and that perhaps as little as 30-40 of the ships we have come to know will be accommodated in 2021. For clarity can the port advise how many passengers will visit in Dublin 2019 and how many will visit in 2021?
Through media reports we have been advised that the reductions are of a temporary nature and that there is an intention to return to 150 ships in 2023 and that this number would be grown thereafter. Can Dublin Port answer unambiguously if an agreement on these numbers has been agreed with the cruise lines? Can we have a categoric commitment from the port in relation to this stated intention?
How many cruise passengers and cruise ship crew does Dublin Port intend to welcome in 2023?
We understand that a decision was conveyed to the cruise lines that it was the port’s intention to cease home porting. Is this the case? If not, how many cruise ships will homeport in Dublin in 2023?
Why has Dublin Port withdrawn from Cruise Ireland and Cruise Europe, and why has it ceased attending cruise events and trade shows if the retrenchment is temporary? Given the need to maintain contacts and goodwill, is the port willing to reconsider its decision to withdraw from these groups and re-engage fully with the industry?
What steps does Dublin Port intend to take to repair the damage done to Ireland’s reputation as a tourist destination caused by how it has handled and communicated its decision?
“The communication of the port’s decision has, unfortunately, lent itself to rumour and a degree of concern. There is no doubt that there has been some anger and frustration amongst key stakeholders. Cruise tourism is an important matter for our members, and we believe that it is incumbent on Dublin Port to engage with openness and transparency with those whose livelihoods have been compromised by its decision.”