Cruise ships are my top priority 
– new port boss

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Picture: Malcolm Wells

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NEW port director Mike Sellers is hoping to put Portsmouth firmly on the map by increasing the number of cruise ship calls into the city.

He took over at Portsmouth International Port last month.

And during one of his first weeks on the job, the port received the news that British cruise company All Leisure Holidays had gone into administration, meaning it would lose a third of its scheduled cruise ship calls.

Since then, Mr Sellers has been working hard to try and recoup those losses and he is aiming to eventually increase the number of cruise ship calls to between 70 and 80 a year.

He said: ‘It has been a setback but it’s a minor setback.

‘It made up about one per cent of the port’s turnover. It didn’t have a massive financial impact on the port but it was a setback and I feel for the people who work for All Leisure Group.

‘But we have a niche market here. We are already talking to other cruise operators about using the port.

‘It is a growing business and we will see more cruise calls here. What I want to do is make sure we align ourselves with Portsmouth City Council to develop not just as a port but as a city destination. We need to make sure that cruise passengers come here and use the city.

‘It’s about selling the great waterfront that we have got.’

Council leader Donna Jones welcomed Mr Sellers into his new role.

She said: ‘It has been a long-standing aspiration of the council to maximise the opportunities of the asset we own at Portsmouth International Port.

‘It has undergone extensive regeneration and investment over the past few years which has included building a new port terminal building and extending berths.

‘Developing the cruise market is a key focus and we’re lucky to have an excellent director who has experience of working with some of the largest cruise companies in the world.

‘The opportunities for Portsmouth and the tourist-related business in the city are huge, which will complement so many of our attractions such as The Warrior, the Historic Dockyard, the D-Day Museum and the various attractions across the city.’

Mr Sellers, who has spent the past 20 years working for Associated British Ports in the east and north east of England, said he hopes to bring his experience into the industrial side of the port and MMD Ltd, a fruit import and handling business.

He also said he would like to promote the port as a place to hold exhibitions, meetings and conferences, as well as a welcoming place to enjoy coffee.

‘You can sit out on the terrace on a sunny day and see all the ships, it’s a great location with a great view,’ he said.