Falkland Islands Tourist Board chairman Mike Rendell and Interim CEO Steph Middleton welcomed a large group of interested parties to the Chamber of Commerce last week for an informal end of tourist season ‘washup.’ Topics raised ranged from perennial issues such as easy access to the Totem Pole for tourists, to newer developments such as what to do with the new jetty.
Mrs. Middleton opened the session by giving updates on a few issues that had come up in the last year: the car park at Gypsy Cove was still awaiting expansion and improvement, and the lay-by near the Lady Liz had not been upgraded, but added that this was largely because it was on a dangerous blind corner.
On more positive notes, the signage at key points had been improved and the Jetty Visitors Centre car park was being Tarmacced (this work has now been completed). Several people gave very positive feedback on the Wardens at Gypsy Cove.
Mrs. Middleton said there would be a full meeting in May to debate the best use of the new car park, as she realized there was still a need for some control of spaces and so on.
On the subject of the car park and the occasional congestion, at the jetty. Some solutions were offered for debate, such as bussing visitors to the museum car park and dispatching 4x4s from there which received mixed reactions.
The issue of insufficient space at the jetty car park also brought calls for closing Ross Road on cruise ship days, and even using the new jetty as overspill parking.
Roger Spink raised the question of what the plans were for the new Public Jetty.
MLA Michael Poole said that once bollards had been installed, it was expected that yachts would utilize the jetty, but he wanted to speak to the Marine Officer before making any official announcement.
Sally Blake felt strongly that Gypsy Cove amenities were a real disappointment. Considering, she said, that it was one of the busiest spots in the Islands for tourists, it really needed proper toilets and shelter.
Mrs. Middleton said that FITB agreed with the need for improvement and she believed Environmental Planning, which is responsible for the area, was planning to extend the footpath and make it a complete loop.
A few people requested that some steps be taken to improve the general standard of tourist guides who tout for business on busy cruise ship days. It was suggested that checks be carried out to ensure valid Hire and Reward insurance and work permits, were in place as well as encouraging all such guides to gain a Tourism qualification and so on. It was felt it may difficult to police this, but MLA Mike Summers offered the information that the draft Ordinance to regulate taxis is progressing, albeit slowly. However, that would not address some of the issues raised.
Louise Taylor and others asked if steps could be put in at the west end of Victory Green, as some walking visitors struggled to climb the bank near the gorse bush.
MLA Poole said that about £200,000 had been released by Executive Council to continue the footpath and Commonwealth Walkway work started last year.
A theme running through the discussion was the potential need for an umbrella association to represent the various bodies interested in tourism in the Islands.
Mike Rendell said it could make a positive contribution to the work of the FITB and he felt a representative of such a group would have a seat on the FITB board meetings.
But, it was up to people, such as those in the room, to organize themselves and form such an Association. FITB could assist with any legal costs, but the drive should come from the operators themselves, he concluded. (Penguin News).