Tourism is the world’s biggest business and Edinburgh is Scotland’s biggest tourism market. Recent surveys of cruise ship passengers in Western Europe has seen Edinburgh voted as the top destination, ahead of Rome, Barcelona, Athens and many more European tourist hot-spots.
But whilst Scotland’s capital is a first-class tourist attraction Edinburgh has third-rate facilities for cruise ships and their passengers. The majority of the 100 cruise ships berthing on the Firth of Forth anchor offshore and transport passengers to South Queensferry or Newhaven on small tender boats. This is weather- dependent, time-consuming and can be extremely challenging for elderly and disabled passengers. It is also very costly for the cruise companies and is a major factor as to why so few cruise ships berth on the Forth.
Scotland’s busiest port is in Orkney with almost 200 ships berthing at Kirkwall with the publicly owned port contributing millions of pounds to Orkney Council’s coffers each year. Recently Fife Councillors have suggested that City Deal funding for Edinburgh and South East Scotland should be used to fund a new cruise port at Burntisland. I applaud the initiative of the Fife politicians but question the wisdom of putting millions of pounds of public money into a privately-owned port on the wrong side of the Forth. Like Leith, Grangemouth and Rosyth, Burntisland is owned by Forth Ports and there is nothing to stop them from investing the millions of pounds that will be needed to build a cruise port there . . . .
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