The cruise industry has been growning and growing all over the world over the last few years, and the UK is just one country to enjoy the economic benefits of this. The Port of Tyne for example has seen cruise visitors double in the space of just one year. It is estimated that passengers from cruise liners and ferries contribute a whopping £44 million to the North East economy, a substantial amount by anyones standards.
Now however, it is all kicking off as Liverpool have decided that they would like a slice of the cruise industry pie. Now you might wonder why this is a problem… surely all ports should be allowed to compete for cruise business? Well unfortunately for Liverpool, that’s not so.
In 2007, Liverpool received around £20 million in grants (from the public purse) to build a new cruise liner terminal. To receive this, they had to sign an agreement stating that it would only take cruise ships for day visits and overnight stays – so ships couldn’t set sail or disembark at the port. This was to avoid Liverpool having an unfair advantage over the other ports in the UK.
All was well and good for a while, until Liverpool decided that they were no longer happy with this arrangment and applied for the restriction to be lifted. The Labour government at the time declined the application, stating that other ports would be adversely affected.
Liverpool however, did not take no for an answer and when the new goverment came into power, they reapplied for the restriction to be lifted. This time around, it seems they might just get what they want…
Other ports are understandably livid and feel that Liverpool should have to repay the £20 million they received from the public purse, otherwise they will be at an unfair advantage.
We will find out for sure what is going to happen in the Autumn. If the decision goes in Liverpool’s favour, don’t expect that to be an end to it as competitors won’t take it lying down!