A number of studies have shown that the development of cruise tourism makes major contributions to urban renewal (cruise goer expenditure, job creation, a city’s image and aesthetics, lengthening the touristic season, transforming abandoned port areas, etc.). In order to find solutions to amplify the economic, environmental and social benefits for port cities that welcome cruise ships, twelve partners in the URBACT CTUR project let integrated actions to improve the interface between cruise traffic and urban renewal.
Exploiting the potential benefits through an integrated and customized policy
One of the most important lessons learned through the CTUR project is the understanding that cruise traffic can serve urban renewal. However, in order to optimise the results, it is essential to first make the city more attractive to cruise tourism (tourists and the cruise companies) through an integrated “cruise city” plan and dedicated marketing that will attract more ships and therefore produce economic benefits.
The CTUR project has demonstrated the economic and social impact can be substantial if one knows how to “exploit” the full added value of the visitors. The preconceived idea that the economic impact of cruise traffic is limited to a set amount corresponding to the average expenditure per passenger, which would be similar in each visited port, is limited and not fully accurate: each local situation is singular and there is a large margin for progression if a proactive offer is set up. The benefits are all the greater if, in addition to benefiting from passenger expenditure, the cities become service providers for the cruise lines.
Adopting a market-oriented approach and finding the right positioning
The cities must take a more professional approach to the cruise market, making more frequent use of experts in this sector and supporting the development of local service provider networks. Part of this involves cities more broadly promoting a "cruise culture", an understanding of the often-complex profiles of cruise tourists, and of how the sector is organised. Studies and surveys could be useful.
Each city should find a position that differentiates them among the cruise market, which means knowing what the passengers expect and what the sector is looking for, and it means evaluating its capacity to win over passengers, team members and the cruise lines. It is necessary to develop adequate services and products on this basis (starting with retail sales) in such a way as to respond to the necessarily diverse experiences passengers are looking for, making them available from the time they get off the ship until they get back on. It is also necessary to ensure that the infrastructure developed respond to the needs of these daily visitors.
Create a cluster of expertise dedicated to cruise traffic
First of all, it is important that objective information about the cruise market is produced and circulates within the city and between the various stakeholders. It is also necessary to work at the development of governance that enables the creation of local business networks and "one-stop shops" that help suppliers (services, products, etc.) to implement their offers, to coordinate and to communicate. Finally, getting all the stakeholders involved (ports, the municipality, the tourism authority, and service providers) is imperative, as is cooperation and coordination with the cruise lines.
Develop training and employment
To strengthen the social impact along with boosting the "cruise city identity", it is interesting to create a training programme focussed on tourism and the cruise business, if possible in partnership with the cruise lines. As with the "cruise academies" developed by Rostock, these could be vocational schools or university or post-graduate courses in various areas (technical and managerial).
Carefully evaluating the need of new terminals and developing them as multi-functional facilities
The construction of new terminals represents a heavy public investment. It is therefore essential for cities to specifically determine the real role that these facilities will play in the long term with regards to maintaining and increasing cruise activities and tourism. In certain cases, the new cruise terminals could be a driving force in the functional reconversion of abandoned port areas. In view of this, it is necessary to privilege multi-functional facilities that are accessible to the local community.
Be attentive to logistics
Often, passenger terminals are not necessary, particularly in transit cities. On the other hand, a port and safe, accessible anchorage are always required, as is disembarking infrastructure and passenger transport services. It is also very important to embellish the pedestrian access area and the link between the port and the city.
The importance of information and accessibility
Cities need to carry out several basic actions related to cruise tourism, including the provision of clear, concise information both in terms of functional aspects and cultural attractions; facilitating access—in a limited area—to the facilities, tourist sites and shops, linked by a system of itineraries; ensuring the quality and clarity of the pedestrian circuits; proposing tourism offices and thematic itineraries, along with uniform signage that includes shopping opportunities.
Reducing tourism pressure
The influx of cruise ships is often accused of causing excessive tourist pressure on certain sites and promoting the formation of "tourist neighbourhoods" with souvenir shops next to the embarkation areas. Although this is true in certain non-European countries, the risk of seeing this scenario arise in historical European cities is limited. Yet, negative effects could arise—particularly in the small cities. In order to reduce them, the cities have, for example, the possibility of grouping together souvenir shops in easily identifiable shopping centres and encouraging shops to open that sell traditional crafts and food specialties.
Promoting cooperation between cities located on the same cruise itinerary
A network of "inter-city" alliances linked by the cruise itineraries can help the cities to find an optimal positioning in view of the proposed circuit and setting up quality standards for the port. This cooperation could also enable cruise lines to boost the impact of their promotion. Furthermore, in order to avoid having too many cruise ships arrive on the same day, it is time that ports and all the cruise lines using them begin to work together to develop the itineraries.
Take better advantage of cruise tourism by avoiding the pitfall of conflicting relations between the city and the "cruise world"
Finally, the CTUR project brought to light the necessity of avoiding the pitfall of conflicts between the city and the cruise lines, stemming from the feeling that cities sometimes have that they do not benefit enough from cruise business in light of the "absorbed" resources. There are clearly points of potential conflict between the two parties, and cities often complain that the cruise companies do not promote free exploration of the city enough, preferring to sell their own excursions. The cruise companies say that this excursion business is necessary for their economic viability and that a significant proportion of passengers disembark on their own.
It seems that they main demand that cruise lines have of policies promoting the cities (on-ship information, free shuttles, etc.) is that is be targeted uniquely at passengers who do not purchase excursions (60%). The experience of certain cities demonstrates that it is possible to find a balanced solution.