Chamber questions planning decision to postpone new tourism investment
Decision comes against a 25% forecast fall in the number of cruise calls for 2019
The Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce has long advocated the steady development and evolution of Gibraltar’s tourist offering if it is to continue competing with other destinations.
The Chamber’s position has been set out in its Tourism Strategy which it has discussed with the government over the last three years. If Gibraltar fails to invest in its tourist product the sector will simply decline. It is for this reason that the Chamber is very supportive of the recent planning application to invest in a new, larger and more modern cable car to take visitors to the top of the Rock.
The response to the application has been to uphold an objection based on environmental grounds. The cable car is electric and produces no direct emissions. On the other hand, the objectors drive diesel vehicles up and down the Rock, but the DPC has decided to ignore any environmental impact which cars and exhaust emissions have on the environment of the Upper Rock. This truly beggars belief.
Other jurisdictions manage to deal with steady increases in visitor numbers at the same time as taking environmental considerations into account. Here visitor numbers to the Upper Rock have remained stagnant for the past decade largely as a result of transport issues. The demand to visit the Upper Rock is there and the applicant is prepared to make a significant capital investment to fulfill that demand in as environmentally-friendly a manner as possible.
Next year the number of cruise calls to Gibraltar is forecast to fall by 25 per cent* in sharp contrast with the significant growth of cruise calls at neighbouring ports in the last few years. The fall will mean that there will be at least 100,000 fewer passengers and crew visiting Gibraltar. The Chamber questions whether this is attributable to the lack of development and investment in Gibraltar’s tourism offering in recent times. This is all in the same year that Gibraltar begins the transition period to leave the EU along with the continued uncertainties over Brexit which could put local jobs at risk.
This application is particularly welcome at this time as it demonstrates the confidence which the company has in the future of Gibraltar’s tourism industry and is a big step in the right direction.
* The figures are taken from the Gibraltar Port website: http://www.gibraltarport.com/schedules. The figures show a forecast of 187 vessels scheduled to visit Gibraltar in 2019 against 247 cruise calls in 2018. With an average of 2,000 passengers and crew per vessel, the forecast drop is 120,000 visitors.