Stakeholders meet in Stornoway, Scotland, to discuss how best to handle cruise growth

Aerial view of Stornoway Harbour (c) Stornoway Port Authority (Image at - January 2023)More than 120 representatives of business, local decision-makers and tourism providers gathered at Stornoway’s Lews Castle in mid December, to discuss the ‘transformative change’ expected from the significant cruise growth expected, starting this year.

The event was jointly organised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Stornoway Port Authority (SPA) and Outer Hebrides Tourism, which have come together to explore the economic potential of tourism, expected to be generated through the new deepwater terminal development scheduled for completion at the end of the year.

Updating attendees on the development’s progress, SPA chief executive Alex Macleod stated that it would unlock the islands’ potential as a perfect location for cruise lines. Speakers included David Selby of Travelyields Ltd who explained why cruise companies pick the ports they go to and what they seek from destinations; Nick Robshaw, director of European Cruise Services, on how to engage with the industry; and Isle of Lewis crofter Donald ‘Sweeny’ Macsween on his experiences of hosting passengers and getting them involved in crofting, who also explained how he has turned his own business into a tourist attraction.

Councillor Donald Crichton, chair of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s (Council of the Western Isles) sustainable development committee, said: “This event provided local businesses and communities with an insight into the needs and wants of the cruise industry … to allow them to sustainably harness the economic value of the local cruise sector.”

MacLeod said: “The new deepwater terminal will enable Stornoway to welcome the world to our islands to fully enjoy their unique hospitality, culture and history. It also represents a major investment in our infrastructure to serve the cruise industry and other sectors. It was an extremely successful event, which generated a lot of ideas and enthusiasm.”

This year the number of calls scheduled is 103, a significant increase on the 64 in 2022. Cruiselines visiting for the first time in 2023 include MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Ambassador Cruise Line and Explora Journeys.

In addition, the island’s Destination Management Organisation – Outer Hebrides Tourism – has created and is interviewing for the role of cruise destination project manager to coordinate the activities of those involved in welcoming ships and giving passengers a good experience during their visit.

(Stornoway Port Authority – SPA)


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