Tale of two ports in race for cruise ships
Businesses in a Cornish resort could be set to feel the pinch this summer with the number of cruise ships scheduled to dock dropping from the previous year's figure.
Last year saw Fowey enjoyed seven visits by ocean liners, some carrying upwards of 1,000 passengers, with three in June, one in July and a further three in August.
In 2013, however, the port will be a stopping point only six times, with the largest liner bringing 560 passengers to Fowey.
In 2012 the town saw close to 5,500 passengers disembark for a taste of Fowey's hospitality, while this year the town can expect around 2,200.
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By comparison, Falmouth is scheduled to see 36 cruise ships call in 2013, bringing close to 25,000 passengers to its streets and shops.
Steve Beresford, chairman of Fowey Chamber of Commerce, said he was disappointed by the drop in numbers for 2013.
"Cruise ship visits are a welcome bonus at any time of year," he said, "It's great that we can get some customers who don't have to put up with Cornwall Council's high parking charges.
"Local traders always make an effort to be open at odd hours when boats arrive early; this drop in numbers arriving is disappointing, but all we can do is to try harder to promote Fowey as a destination in whatever way we can."
Fowey harbour master Paul Thomas said it was vital the port remained competitive in its bid to lure cruise ships into its harbour.
"The market for attracting cruise visits is a tough one," he said, "and we're in competition with our neighbours for the market share.
"Clearly Falmouth, after all the investment they've received, will be working hard to attract ships and we need to ensure that we maintain our efforts to keep our numbers up."
Mr Thomas said he wasn't too concerned about the drop: "We are down on numbers this year, but numbers do fluctuate from year to year. Some ships we see only every other year, as they like to vary their itinerary.
"Fowey's a unique place to visit and cruise passengers really enjoy their experience here so I'm not unduly concerned about numbers this year."
Karen Turpin, owner of Fowey Fish and Wines, emphasised the importance of cruises to local businesses.
"Cruise ship visits are very important to the town," she said.
"The cruisers and crew spend money in town and the actual ship draws locals and holidaymakers to view it in the harbour and watch the tugs turn it and so on, plus it increases the profile of the town as a great place to visit, either by cruise boat or just on a conventional holiday."