Puerto Madryn welcomes all cruise vessels; Ushuaia tourism industry blasts the governor
The Patagonian province of Chubut said that contrary to what happened earlier this week in Tierra del Fuego, there is no ban on any cruise vessel flag and all are welcome to dock and make use of the provincial ports’ services, particularly Puerto Madryn which belongs to the South Atlantic sea tourism circuit.
“The legal system in Chubut does not refer at all to vessels involved in activities different to that of cargo and therefore the provincial authorities will not impose any measure similar to that adopted by the governor of Tierra del Fuego”, said Miuel Montoya head of the Legal and Technical Department from the Chubut governor’s office, according to local media reports.
The Chubut tourism industry from the city of Puerto Madryn was very much concerned with what had happened in Ushuaia earlier in the week when two British flagged cruises were turned back because they were also coming from the Falkland Islands. Puerto Madryn and Ushuaia are the main Patagonian ports visited by cruise vessels.
Montoya who comes from Comodoro Rivadavia and also happens to be a Malvinas war veteran, said that the so called “Gaucho Rivero” bill and its only article simply bans the permanence, docking, supply or/and logistics operations in provincial territory of British or convenience flagged vessels involved in tasks not authorized by Argentina national authorities related to the exploration and exploitation of natural resources in the Islas Malvinas basin on the Argentine continental platform, and naval vessels operating in that basin.
Tierra del Fuego governor Fabiana Rios last Monday turned back two British flagged cruise vessels in what she said was abidance with that province’s ‘Gaucho Rivero’ bill which immediately triggered world headlines because of its impact on commercial activities and political consequences ahead of the 30th anniversary of the 1982 Malvinas War, when Argentina invaded the Falklands.
“It is not our interest to make a scandal or harm anybody, it is merely compliance with a law and the unrestricted defence of our sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands”, said Governor Rios addressing the provincial congress and ratifying her Monday decision.
The provincial decision led to a serious clash with Ushuaia tourism industry representatives who abandoned a meeting with local authorities given their inflexible political position while and tourism chambers also resigned from the Tierra del Fuego Ports advisory council.
The Tierra del Fuego tourism industry fears the economic impact of closing the port of Ushuaia to cruise vessels, many of which fly a British convenience flag or belong to British companies, such was the case of the ‘Sea Princess’ and the ‘Adonia’ with 2.850 and 710 passengers respectively. The absence of the two cruises cost Ushuaia almost a million dollars, according to local tourism sources.
Furthermore Chubut province tourism operators are fearful of what can happen in Miami when the next Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention 2012, the industry’s major meeting on March 12/15. Tierra del Fuego will have to explain what is going on and what the official policy is, and Puerto Madryn could also suffer the consequences of any drastic measure.