Dublin cruise ship cuts will hit Belfast: Tourism shops boss
Restrictions on cruise ships docking in Dublin will see a dramatic reduction in the number coming to Belfast from 2021, a senior business figure has claimed.
Lorcan O'Connor is managing director the Carroll's Group, which owns two tourism stores in Belfast.
He has joined figures from across the business and tourism industry to oppose plans by Dublin Port Company to cut down on the number of cruise ships docking while it carries out major works to increase its capacity in response to Brexit.
The All-Ireland Cruise Ship Action Group (AICSAG) said while the numbers are being cut, the length of time ships can drop anchor is also being reduced.
Some 150 cruise ships arrived in Dublin Port last year. Many of those cruise companies also choose to dock twice on the island in either Belfast or Cork.
DUP leader Arlene Foster has already written to the Republic's Transport Minister Shane Ross to express concern that the move will hit arrivals in Belfast.
Mr Ross has reportedly claimed that Cork and Belfast will fill the gap.
However, Mr O'Connor said that, in reality, cruise companies which can't access Dublin won't come to Ireland at all.
"Cork and Belfast are obviously going to get some ships, but I think the numbers are going to be dramatically decreased," he said.
The Carroll's boss said he believed Dublin Port Company is increasingly moving away from the cruise business.
He was speaking yesterday as 3,600 North American tourists arrived on a 'turnaround' cruise, which involves travellers flying home, while another 3,600 fly in to board.
"Dublin Port have explicitly said that they will be banning these turnarounds from 2021 and the Irish tourism industry will be paying the price," he said.
A spokesperson for Dublin Port said the berth restrictions from 2021 are intended to last three years to allow for major construction works on Alexandra Quay West, a 400-metre quay wall.
Between 140 and 160 cruises have been booked into the port between 2019-20. That will drop to 80 from 2021-23, and return to 150 from 2024.
Dublin Port said additional work will take the cruise capacity to over 200 from 2026.