Top season for Council owned harbours
Harbours owned and operated by The Highland Council have had their busiest cruise ship season ever. During the summer months 140 ships have visited, carrying 29,000 passengers and leading to a revenue contribution of over £210,000 in harbour dues.
The figures show an increase of over 27% compared to the same period last year.
These ships have a cross section of nationalities from Europe and the USA as well as British cruisers bringing passengers from across the UK to see as much of Scotland as they can.
Portree Harbour continues to be the greatest attraction for the larger cruise ships, and is capable of handling up to 3,000 passengers off a single ship. The harbour is ideally situated for an overnight sailing from Kirkwall or Stornoway before travelling on to Tobermory, Oban and Glasgow. Over the season this small harbour produced almost half of the revenues by cruise ships for the Highland Council with a small team of harbour staff managing up to 16 coaches per ship in and out of the quay.
Fort William has also enjoyed an increase in cruise ships. This has been assisted by the work of the Fort William Marina and Shoreline Company whose volunteers assist passengers with information and provide a warm welcome whatever the weather.
Other Council harbours, including Kyle of Lochalsh, The Small Isles, Inverie, Gairloch, Shieldaig and Plockton have made increased contributions to the cruising tourism. These harbours are now becoming popular with the smaller cruise operators which are growing in popularity. These ships carry up to 12 passengers into shallow restricted areas that the bigger ships cannot reach.
2020 is looking to be a similar successful season and bookings are strong for 2021 and 2022 as Cruise companies plan more of their fleet into the North West Scotland itineraries.
Chair of the Council’s Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor Allan Henderson said: “National cruise ship figures suggest each passenger spends an average of £100 per harbour visit so the bumper season our council run harbours have had has generated almost £3M for the local Highland economy. This is very positive news and I am delighted that next year and the years beyond look like they are going to be even more successful. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our harbour staff for their hard work. I would also like to thank the local communities, especially all the volunteers, for making passengers feel so welcome.”