The Falkland Islands Tourist Board has had the first indication from cruise companies on potential numbers of cruise ships to visit Stanley in 2010/11.
“Our preliminary schedule for the 2010/11 season indicates that there are currently 58 visits planned into Stanley from cruise ships that give a total capacity of 51,733 passengers, but: only if they are operating at full capacity” say Paul Trowell, General Manager for the Falkland Islands Tourist Board.
“It is important to remember that these passenger numbers are a best scenario forecast if the cruise ships manage to fill their passenger quotas” says Paul
“We are also expecting some more of the smaller expedition ships to confirm in the near future as well” says Paul
The Falklands Forecast, that is designed for inbound and domestic tourism demand in the Falkland Islands, which is calculated using an iterative process by drawing on a series of data sources does indicate that the number of cruise arrivals is expected to fall by over 16% in the 2010/11 season, mainly due to the withdrawal of the Norwegian Sun and Minerva. Consequently, around 40,000 passenger arrivals are in reality expected (compared to over 48,000 in 2009/10)
“The heavy fuel ban may be starting to show its impact in cruise to the Falkland Islands” say Paul and “will change the pattern and form of Antarctic tourism” (Source: Summary Report on the Round Table Discussion on Antarctic Tourism, June 11, 2009, Providence, Rhode Island, USA) IAATO estimates the number of cruise-only passengers visiting Antarctic waters will drop from 15,531 to 6,400 once the ban takes effect. (Source: Mercopress article, April 7th 2010).
“Early indications seem positive from the preliminary schedule but the industry has to remember this is early days yet and passenger numbers are yet to be confirmed. There are a lot of external issues out of our control that will affect cruise growth into the Falkland Islands in the future but what I can say is that the Falkland Islands Tourist Board and many local operators are working hard to attract new markets and build relationships with current and past cruise companies to assure we stay on their radar” says Paul.
The Falklands have a raw, unspoilt quality that entices locals and tourists back time and again. Visitors to the Islands are spoilt for choice with more than 227 species of identified birds (including several of the world’s largest endangered breeding colonies), as well as whales, dolphins, elephant seals, sea lions, delicate flora and rugged geographical formations.
The best time to visit the Falklands and experience the local culture and wildlife is October to April, this is when the cruise season also runs. The Falklands has more sunshine hours and less rainfall than the UK.
There are over 40 international tour operators offering tailor-made packages and escorted tours to the Falkland Islands. See www.falklandislands.com for the latest list.
Visitors can reach the Falklands on the weekly LAN Airways flight via Chile or the charter flight operated twice weekly from RAF Brize Norton in the UK by the Ministry of Defence.