Tourism or trade?

By | Category: Travel rumblings

The port of Dublin plans to reduce the number of cruise ships calling at Dublin from about 160 that will dock this year to 80 in 2021. Last year 150 ships carrying 1,827, 674 passengers stopped over in Dublin.

Port of Dublin. Image – Dublin Port Company

Many destinations would move heaven and earth to attract more cruise ships yet Dublin is suggesting the opposite. Is it due to tourist pollution in the centre of Dublin?

No. It’s due to Brexit! Or is it?

When the UK leaves the EU, the Dublin Port Company says that it needs to have more room for handling containers and freight traffic. Situated on an island, all freight has to come by either air (which can be expensive) or sea. At the moment there is a lot of freight traffic across the Northern Irish border with no hindrance but after Brexit there may be delays so many companies will ship directly to Irish ports to avoid that issue. Those ships have to dock somewhere so, the logic goes, reducing the number of cruise ships will make more docking facilities available for container ships and more space to store and process the freight until it is moved.

Needless to say the cruise companies aren’t happy and nor is the Irish government judging from some recent comments by deputy head of the government, Simon Coveney. The Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, suggested that other ports in Ireland will suffer as well. Oddly enough that is pretty much what the cruise industry said.

The port needs more infrastructure, the company says, so is this announcement anything more than playing politics to get money to subsidise its expansion? Even now it plans to raise prices by a third to docking cruise liners by increasing both the cost of each passenger travelling on a ship and by the tonnage of the ship. When it developed its master plan in 2012 – long before Brexit ever reared its head – considerable growth was foreshadowed. But in June 2018 when it had updated its plan, Brexit wasn’t even mentioned in the 43 point Executive Summary as having any effect on its plans.

It does say, in point 20 “The main attraction of the cruise industry is the generation of significant revenues for the Dublin region – the actual contribution to DPC’s revenues is not significant. Accordingly the Port could part fund the development but additional funding would be needed from other sources…”

It looks to me as through the cruise ship reduction plan is part of the overall plan to get more outside funding after all. And Brexit is a good excuse to use.

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