Cruise industry warnings must be wakeup call

Warnings from the cruise industry of the chaos being caused by the UK Border Force’s new procedures must be a wakeup call to Westminster.

Reports in today’s Herald warn that the agency’s new interpretation of the rules is causing significant problems to the industry, with every cruise ship passenger now subject to a face to face interview upon arriving in the UK. Previously cruise ship passengers and crews were cleared in advance with manifests checked via agents.

With large cruise ships potentially carrying thousands of passengers at a time, the delays and increased costs associated with the move are causing fears that operators will become increasingly reluctant to visit Scotland, reversing the rapid growth that the industry has seen in recent years. Last year visitors to Scotland from cruise ships were estimated to have generated £41 million for Scotland’s economy.

Stuart McMillan MSP wrote to the Westminster Government in early December highlighting the problems that the UK Border Force’s new approach was causing and seeking answers on what prior consultation with the industry took place. To date, no answer has been received.

Commenting, SNP MSP Stuart McMillan who convenes the Cross Party Group on Recreational Boating and Marine Tourism said:

“The cruise ship sector is increasingly important to Scotland’s economy, with passenger numbers increasing rapidly as more and more people visit our shores via cruise ship.

“We should be doing everything we can to boost and support the sector, not putting ill-considered obstacles in its path as Westminster seems determined to do.

“It is completely unacceptable for Westminster to simply ignore the repeated warnings that the cruise industry has given them. These latest calls must act as a wakeup call to Westminster that can no longer simply be brushed aside.

“Instead of continuing to put the arbitrary goals of the Tories ahead of the needs of this multi-million pound sector of the tourism industry, Westminster must listen to the evidence and bring an end to this chaotic new approach as a matter of urgency.”

Details of the cruise ship industry’s warnings can be viewed at http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/stricter-uk-border-checks-a...