THE new passenger terminal at Portsmouth International Port spells nothing but good news for the city, business leaders have said.
The £16.5m terminal, which was due to be opened for the first time today, has taken 14 months to build.
It will cater for those travelling on cross-channel ferries, as well as cruise ships.
Maureen Frost, of the Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘This is a really positive move for the city.
‘People remember their first impressions and if they remember something that’s of quality with good facilities either as they leave or come back, it would certainly encourage them to come back to the city again.’
The glass-clad terminal houses a café, with views over the concourse and an balcony overlooking the port.
New drop-off areas and roads, still under construction, will improve access to and from the terminal, which has room for 2,400 passengers.
At 6.15am the first passengers were due to arrive in the terminal from Jersey, with passengers from Caen scheduled to arrive 15 minutes later.
It is hoped the regeneration will attract tourists.
Martin Denison, executive director of the Portsmouth and South East Hampshire Partnership, said: ‘Anything that can attract more visitors to Portsmouth is a marvellous thing to happen.’
Port manager Martin Putman said: ‘We have always had a reputation as being the best-connected cruise and ferry port in Britain, offering a trouble-free start to a journey to the continent.
‘Today Portsmouth will have the best cruise and ferry terminal in the country too.
‘We know the investment in top-class facilities will not only improve the experience of passengers, but we fully expect it to attract new customers too.’
The new terminal will be officially opened with a ceremony in May.