With the tourist season having drawn to a close, it is easy to imagine those involved putting their feet up and waiting for the next wave of visitors, but the opposite is in fact the reality.
Cruise operators are already back on the beat drumming up trade for the next and future seasons and constantly looking for ways to improve the service they provide. A recent visit by Sulivan Shipping to the Seatrade cruise forum, which was this year held in the Dorset town of Poole, highlighted how well a small team with minimal shore facilities in the Falklands, is competing on an international scale and dealing with a huge amount of cruise ships. Tourism Development Manager Debbie Summers and Tourism Assistant Samantha Marsh recently spent two days in Poole with a packed schedule of conferences, presentations and meetings with representatives of the many cruise lines that visit the Falklands. This was Samantha's first time at such an event and she said she learned a lot about the cruise industry in a short time. "It was a very intense couple of days where we were constantly trying to obtain and pass on information that would be of use to Sulivan Shipping and a benefit to the industry as a whole," she said. The forum was focused on the South West of England but, as Sulivan Shipping is a member of Seatrade and many of the cruise lines that visit the Falklands had representatives attending, it was considered too an good opportunity to miss. It was also a chance to meet with delegates from other ports around Britain, to learn how they operate and discover where we are lacking, explained Samantha. "It confirmed what we already knew: that basic facilities and a lack of investment are the Falklands' weakest area." She added, "It was interesting to learn that other ports who are receiving less than ten cruise ships in a season are investing huge capital." She cited Liverpool as an example; the city is in the early stages of entering the cruise ship industry but has already invested in a 350 metre berth to accommodate ships. Liverpool is predicting to have 25 cruise ships per season by 2009. "Carcass, West Point and New Island already receive more than that now; I think this puts into perspective how economically valuable other ports view cruise ship tourism," Samantha said. Happily though, the general feeling towards South America and the Falkland Islands as a region was very positive, she added. "Next season is already looking busy for the Falklands." Penguin News