THE decision by Chile to reduce the costs of port access and docking operations was welcomed by the Falkland Islands Tourist Board today.
Falkland Islands Tourist Board General Manager Paul Trowell said, “Any decrease in port fees in South American ports has to be encouraging for the region as a whole and have benefits for all who invest heavily in the region.
“I believe that Chilean Tourism has to be congratulated on the move and would encourage all destinations to cooperate to compete to collectively attract more vessels to the region, then we all win and create a larger cruise offer.”
Cruise lines began to avoid Chilean ports “in recent years” it was reported by Mercopress in May 2010, with a notable decline in the number of passengers who chose to disembark in Chilean port cities. This was attributed to the high prices cruise lines had to pay to negotiate Chilean waters and dock in port cities and the high disembarkation fees for cruise passengers.
However, yesterday Chile announced that vessels operating in Chilean waters would benefit from significant rebates.
The Santiago Times reported last year that at that time if a passenger were to do a 15 day cruise from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Valparaiso, Chile, they would end up paying an additional US$500 just to stop and disembark in Chile’s national ports.
Currently in the Falkland Islands cruise passengers pay only £18 per person passenger tax, however, a ship of over 80,000 tons and carrying more that 12 passengers (such as frequent visitor Star Princess) would have to pay £11,124 when arriving in a ‘Declared Harbour’.
Asked if the cruise industry considered Falklands harbour dues to be too high, Mr Trowell said, “I have not had any feedback on this from the industry; I have been advocating that we should not raise our costs until more investment is put back into the infrastructure generated from these fees by generating more facilities for passengers.”
Member of Legislative Council Emma Edwards who holds the portfolio for Tourism said, “The Falkland Islands offers a unique experience to cruise ship passengers. I've heard many comments from tourists visiting Stanley that the Falklands was the highlight of their South American trip.
“I would hope that Chile's decrease in port fees will attract more cruise vessels to the South American region and that those vessels may wish to consider the Falkland Islands as an additional port of call, to enhance their customers South American experience.”
MLA Edwards did not comment on the question of whether the cruise industry considered Falklands’ port fees too high and whether the Falkland Islands Government would consider taking a similar route; however, a cruise industry executive recently commented to the author that his company viewed Falklands harbour dues as “very expensive,” when viewed alongside the port facilities available.
By Lisa Watson – SeAledPR - Stanley