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Thursday May 24, 2012

Cape Town to get cruise liner terminal

It has taken years of intense lobbying, but now plans are under way for Cape Town to get a cruise liner terminal at Table Bay Harbour.

And the move will no doubt boost the city's tourism income substantially.

Last week Transnet issued a call for submissions of interest in the funding, construction and operation of a terminal.

In January Home Affairs banned cruise liners from docking at the V&A Waterfront's Jetty Two, citing security concerns which left passengers of the Queen Mary 2, on a visit to the city, to disembark from the Eastern Mole and having to negotiate railway lines, manholes and bollards.

The tender notice published last week called on interested parties to attend a briefing on June 6 ahead of submissions closing on June 29.

Transnet property manager Johan Claasen said after June 29 it would be decided whether to take it on to the next stage.

Cape Times shipping columnist Brian Ingpen said the call for proposals was a fantastic development and would encourage cruise liners to visit.

"It shouldn't just be seen as a cruise liner terminal, it should have multiple uses.

"Right now we don't have too many ships and it should also be used for weddings and conferences," said Ingpen.

Megan Gobey, an agent for cruise liners visiting Cape Town, said she hoped the terminal would come to fruition.

"There's been so many ideas on where to put cruise terminals, but E-berth is the best place to locate it," said Gobey. In its favour, she said, was its close proximity to the Clocktower Precinct and the ample space available for future development at the site compared to the V&A Waterfront.

"The only problem is that most of the passengers on the cruise ships are retired so they won't be able to (easily) walk the short distance to the Waterfront," said Gobey.

Economic Development and Tourism MEC Alan Winde, who has been one of the main proponents of a cruise liner terminal, said when he spoke to Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, she told him that it was a tourism issue which had to be taken up with Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk.

"In Cape Town the income-generators are the world cruise liners that stop over here. We need to offer cruise liners a better welcome than they are getting at the moment," said Winde.

Head of business thinktank Accelerate Cape Town, Guy Lundy, said a cruise liner terminal would be a big boost for a largely non-existent industry. A new terminal would be able to leverage the interest that Cape Town has received as an international destination.

"At the moment we're not even featuring on the plans of international cruise liners. The building of a facility should go in line with a plan to attract operators," said Lundy.

Head of Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (Fedhasa) in the Western Cape, Dirk Elzinga, was convinced the hospitality industry would be "delighted" if a cruise liner terminal was built.

"It's long overdue. At the moment the cruise liner facilities are non-existent. If there's a good cruise terminal then operators will definitely do their best to bring more business to Cape Town," said Elzinga.

Such a move could also be beneficial to the city's hotel industry.

Cape Times


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