The Isles of Scilly is celebrating its best ever year for cruises, and the fact that the islands are now the most popular cruise destination of anywhere in the southwest of England – outdoing Dartmouth, Falmouth and other popular ports.
In total, 39 cruise ships visited Scilly in 2014 – beating a previous record of 36 in 2010. Passengers visiting St. Mary’s (and also this year St. Agnes, Bryher and St. Martins) rose to a record 10,401 – breaking the previous record of 7,948 in 2012. A further 4,300 cruise passengers headed directly to Tresco, bringing the total for all the islands in 2014 to just over 14,700.
The Islands’ Partnership works closely with Tresco Island and the Duchy of Cornwall Harbour Master’s Office to encourage cruises to the islands, which are estimated to be worth in excess of £450,000 to Scilly’s economy. That doesn’t include the goodwill value of those cruise passengers who, having sampled a small taste of Scilly, will choose to return for a longer break.
An on-board representative from the Islands’ Partnership team greets the cruise ship passengers to hand out promotional materials and maps of the islands and has, for some ships, offered on-shore support this year. IP member businesses also benefit, including St. Mary’s Boatmen’s Association who provide passenger transfers to shore, and attractions and tour operators such as Island Rover Tours, Island Sea Safaris and of course Tresco Abbey Garden. Island retailers and food outlets have also been very welcoming this year, particularly with respect to opening their businesses to customers coming ashore on Sundays.
“The Islands’ Partnership makes a contribution of £1,000 towards advertising with Destination Southwest which pays dividends in terms of cruise ship visitor numbers. Our pro-active approach to welcoming cruises this year has been well received, by both passengers and the cruise operators, and it is definitely something we will look to develop further next season, particularly with regard to on-shore support,” says Tourism Coordinator, Amanda Pender. “Coordinating our efforts with member businesses, welcome volunteers, and also with Tresco Island and the Duchy has been tremendously successful.”