Lord Elis-Thomas AM, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport
Over the past 5 years we have worked extremely hard to put Wales on the map as a top cruise destination. In 2013 there were 18 cruise calls with 15,000 cruise passengers visiting Wales. This year alone with over 100 calls to Welsh ports - an increase of over 500% since 2013 - Wales will have welcomed over 51,000 cruise passengers from USA, Canada, France and Germany, to name but a few countries. It is also a significant upturn on 2017 year’s figures which show a year on year increase of 15%. Holyhead will welcome 54 of these calls in 2018 - an increase of 30% from 2017. A trend that we hope will continue.
We have attracted new lines such as Norwegian Cruise Line, Aida, Regent Seven Seas and Phoenix Reissen and we are doing everything we can to attract further cruise lines. We are also working hard to retain the existing ones, for example Cruise & Maritime Voyages cruise line will continue to offer turnaround cruises in 2019 to the Mediterranean, following the second successful year of sailing out of Cardiff port, where 750 passengers boarded and disembarked the Marco Polo cruise vessel.
A key part of retaining calls is our work pan Wales to develop and promote new onshore tour itineraries for passengers and showcasing more of Wales’s attractions to cruise lines and ground handlers; for example, for passengers arriving in Cardiff, we have developed a new tour of the Wales Millennium Centre building with the original architect; and for passengers arriving in Fishguard, we have developed a whole afternoon, offering a Hwyl event featuring entertainment to showcase Welsh heritage & culture; and in Holyhead we now offer the new Zip World Forest Coaster, over a 1 kilometre alpine toboggan run, as an adventure tour option.
We have also invested in infrastructure, for example in Fishguard port through the Tourism Investment Support Scheme, we have invested in a pontoon allowing larger cruise vessels to call. As a result, there is already an increase in passenger numbers for 2019 of 30%, including the arrival of the Aidabella cruise ship, with 2500 cruise passengers on board. This will be the largest ship to call in Fishguard so far.
The port of Holyhead is also to undergo change, with a new multi-use berth development under consideration. In Milford Haven, revised plans for a multi-million pound marina redevelopment, including new hotels, shops and restaurants, have been approved by Pembrokeshire County Council.
Wales as a cruise destination is marketed directly to the cruise lines through business to business calls with key decision makers from each cruise line. We will continue to further develop our strong working relationships with the cruise lines by attendance at the Cruise Global exhibition and Seatrade Med conference & exhibition.
Over the last 5 years cruise tourism has been a great success story, thanks to the work we have undertaken in partnership with the key stakeholders to improve our Wales cruise product. Going forward, collaborative working will need to continue if we are to further develop our cruise port infrastructure, so that we can concentrate on continued growth in cruise calls for Wales.
What is clear, is that Wales has something for everyone. Whatever your interests, Wales certainly has it all. We are looking forward to welcoming more cruise passengers in the years to come and sharing everything that we have to offer.
This statement is being issued during recess in order to keep members informed. Should members wish me to make a further statement or to answer questions on this when the Assembly returns I would be happy to do so.