The body responsible for promoting Scotland as a landing point for cruise ships has criticised new immigration checks, claiming the industry could be damaged as a result.
Previously, the UK Border Force used the passenger and crew manifests to clear cruise ships in advance of their arrival. However, the changes brought in now demand that each passenger has a face to face meeting upon entry at the first port of call.
The chairman of Cruise Scotland has said that many operators are not at all satisfied with the changes made. Richard Alexander said:
“At a time when cruise lines are already facing increasing operational costs, this is effectively a new tax on their operations. They have also indicated that this will make the UK uncompetitive and unappealing and act as a deterrent for ships to call at UK ports.”
It is estimated that 2012 saw cruise ships bring 380,000 people into Scotland. An increase of nearly 20 per cent on the previous year, it is estimated this brought in £41 million to the economy.
Many firms have made significant investments to tempt cruise passengers into their premises too, often using invoice factoring as an alternative commercial finance mechanism. Any drop off in numbers could undermine these efforts.
A UK Border Force spokesperson suggested the issue was not as big as many feared, saying:
“There have been no changes to immigration rules affecting cruise ships.”
However, the statement went on to say that discussions with Cruise Scotland were taking place in order to minimise any inconvenience to genuine UK visitors caused by border protection procedures.