AN attempt to attract more cruise customers into the city has been made to add millions to the local economy each year.
Some of the country’s top cruise travel agents gathered in Portsmouth to find out about the city and what their passengers can get out of visiting.
Thirty experts visited Portsmouth International Port to attend the Cruise Lines International Association Expo on smaller ship explorer cruising.
It is hoped the event will help increase the number of passengers making the most of what Portsmouth has to offer and boost the £557m that tourists already bring to the local economy each year.
Experts were briefed on developments at the port, as well as some of the tourist attractions on its doorstep.
Captain Rupert Taylor, harbour master at Portsmouth International Port, explained how the number of cruise calls to Portsmouth has increased massively since 2000.
‘Expedition cruising is a massive part of the industry and it is a very lucrative side,’ he said.
‘It will be massive in the next few years. In Portsmouth, we do tend to specialise in expedition ships and we do get a fair amount of them starting in Portsmouth already.’
The number of cruise ships booked to stop off in the city increased by 22 per cent this year compared to 2013.
Recent improvements to the local infrastructure, including the A3 Hindhead Tunnel, has opened the port up as a viable option to people living further afield.
After the event, Cpt Taylor said: ‘We had great feedback from agents attending the expo in Portsmouth last year and are delighted that even more came.
‘It’s always good to show specialists our first-class terminal and get them to talk with operators who use the port.
‘They also had the opportunity to see our dedicated cruise check-in and luggage facilities in action, as passengers arrived for their cruise on Minerva.’
Following presentations from Rupert and Jane Singh, visitor services and development manager for Portsmouth City Council, three cruise companies gave presentations about the services they offer. Two of them were companies that already use Portsmouth International Port.
Expedition cruises are considered to be a ‘niche’ holiday choice. The smaller berths at Portsmouth’s port do not allow for large liners to dock, giving the city an opportunity to specialise in luxury cruises.