Cruise ship passengers will be '˜no magic bullet'

The majority of tourists who arrive in Berwick when it starts welcoming cruise ships next year are unlikely to spend much time in the town.

Thursday, 3rd May 2018, 14:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd May 2018, 11:30 am
MS Hanseatic berthed in Eyemouth Bay

That is the assessment of Julien Lake, chief executive of Berwick Community Trust, who believes most visitors will head towards Holy Island and Bamburgh Castle.

He was speaking at a meeting of Berwick Regeneration Commission where Coun Georgina Hill questioned how much of a boost cruise ship passengers would provide the Berwick economy.

Mr Lake said: “Initially, the expectation is that any cruise passengers who do come to Berwick are unlikely to have their needs met in Berwick as it stands today. If cruise ship passengers start to visit us, let’s be honest, probably in quite small numbers, a significant portion are likely to get on a coach and go to Holy Island. Initially, the direct benefit to Berwick will be modest.”

However, he hoped that regeneration projects such as the proposed conversion of Berwick Barracks into a heritage hub would make the town a more attractive proposition.

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He said the demographic and profile of cruise ship passengers, particularly those on smaller ships travelling the British coast, was a market which Berwick could attract as its visitor offer develops.

While Eyemouth already receives a small number of cruise ships, he was confident Berwick was well placed to take its share of the market.

“Cruise passengers are visiting Eyemouth in small numbers, have been for a while, and are largely being bussed on,” he said. “ I don’t think that is ever going to change in Eyemouth but we have the opportunity to develop a product that will appeal more.

“We would be entirely wrong to look at cruise passengers as a magic bullet for tourism in Berwick but I am convinced there is a case for it to make a valuable contribution over time.”

Coun Robert Bruce said he thought visitors would welcome the opportunity to walk around Berwick after being on a ship.

Berwick Harbour Commission is currently carrying out a £2million renovation of its jetty which included the installation of pontoons in the harbour for cruise ship passengers. It has drafted a £500,000 bid to the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund to provide visitor facilities at Tweed Dock such as toilets, a lounge and refreshments area.