Deep water landing stage could be a big boost for Manx tourism and in place as early as 2020

By by John Turner john.turner@iomtoday.co.im newsdesk@iomtoday.co.im in Environment

A new deep water landing stage in the Isle of Man could be a fantastic asset, boosting tourism, supporting the island’s heritage attractions and pumping thousands of pounds into the economy.

That’s the view of the current and former chairman of the Shipping Association, Mark Robertshaw and Lars Ugland, who say the project could even by in place by 2020.

The Isle of Man could benefit from cruise liners in the same way as the Orkney Islands, they believe.

More than 120,000 tourists are expected this year in the Orkney Islands. That’s six times the number of people who live there.

The number of tourists to visit the islands was just 36,000 in 2011.

The developers’ ambitious proposal would see a new fixed landing stage built on the seaward-side of the breakwater that protects Douglas harbour. The latest proposal supersedes earlier plans for a floating berth.

The proposed new landing stage would be parallel with the existing breakwater and would offer berthing for cruise ships up to 400 metres, the current largest being 362.

Mr Ugland said the scheme would give the island a great opportunity to make the most of the growing cruise ship trade.

Larger cruise ships currently visiting the island have to moor in the bay and use small tenders to get passengers ashore, meaning bad weather can prevent any visitors from ever reaching the island. Smaller cruise ships can dock at Douglas but with the trend towards ever larger vessels the weather becomes a bigger factor.

’Cruise ships are only getting bigger and bigger, there will be fewer and fewer small cruise ships in the future,’ Mr Robertshaw said.

Some cruise ships have already struck the island off their itinerary because of problems getting passengers on shore.

Mr Robertshaw said: ’If ships can’t berth we will fall off the cruise ship itinerary so all the work done will be lost because we will be seen as an unreliable berth.’

This year, 27 cruise ships are due to visit the island, but all are smaller vessels with none of the larger ones taking the risk.

’We’ve been working with the government for some time and in September it will be four years since I first wrote to them. Since then we have gone through various proposals,’ he said.

The latest propsal, developed with Royal Haskoning DHV, a Dutch engineering and design company with offices in Liverpool, is for a fixed berth, which would cost around £35 to £40 million.

A presentation to government earlier this year from Mr Ugland, Michael Morrison, business development manager for Orkney Islands Council’s marine services and Angie Redhead, cruise manager for Liverpool City Council said the berth in Orkney had generated around 140,000 extra tourists each year. In 2016, they welcomed their 750,000th cruise ship passenger. Earlier this month, the Isle of Man welcomed its 50,000th cruise passenger.

Mr Ugland added: ’They say around 40,000 come to the TT in a two-week period, but one cruise ship per day, over 14 days, each with 3,500 passengers, could make a huge impact.’

Currently, they said Liverpool is looking at further investment in a deep water berth, which would complement anything here in the island.

’We are symbiotic with Liverpool,’ Mr Robertshaw said.

He added: ’The average cruise passenger spends around £70 in the island during their visit, giving a boost to the retail, restaurants, cafe and heritage attractions like the horse trams, railway and electric trams. And 20 to 25 per cent of those visitors tend to return if they have had a positive experience.’

The men say the money could be raised from private finance and need not cost the taxpayer anything. The construction would also use Manx workers.

A report on the landing stage’s viability was commissioned by the government from Deloitt’s and that is due to be completed in a couple of weeks’ time.

Chief Minister Howard Quayle sounded a note of caution saying construction of the Orkney berth was a relatively easy project compared with what would be required in the Isle of Man.

’I support it as a project but we have to be sure that the business case stacks up first. There are difficulties involved, for example the electricity cable may need to be moved and the tide falls by something like seven metres.

’But with Liverpool aiming to be the cruise centre of the North West, the opportunity for ships to visit will be significant. I will be happy to support it if it’s right for the Isle of Man.’

No decision is expected from Tynwald until the end of this year at the earliest and the berth would take around two years to construct.

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MK · 16 days ago · Report

Every IOM port could do with extending or improving in one way or another - not much chance of that in the foreseeable future. Enclosing sufficient sheltered water at Douglas for cruise ships could indeed benefit the ferries but the cost would be prohibitive - and this would also then be in the public domain. Perhaps we should make a virtue of the difficulties of getting ashore and market it as an "explorer" venue with no guarantee.

Ron · 16 days ago · Report

If a good economic case is there, it should not require much taxpayer involvement. IoM needs to get itself firmly on the cruise ship circuit in this part of Europe. How many cruise ships either did not come of could not use the tender shuttle when they came?

Fell · 17 days ago · Report

Just a thought - if there was indeed £40 million of private venture capital plus £20 million spent here not Liverpool, then could a remodelling of the harbour be made that would benefit ferries as well as cruise liners?

MK · 19 days ago · Report

Comparisons with Orkney are irrelevant. There, they have sheltered waters between their many islands and less than half the tidal range of the IOM. Even if all the problems of access, the electricity cable, fuel tanks etc could be overcome, there will still be many periods when such a berth could not be approached because of the swells coming in, especially with any weight of wind in the NE quadrant.

MK · 19 days ago · Report

By "fixed landing stage", I take it they mean a huge breakwater with a pontoon alongside it. Such a structure would have to be on a bigger scale than the present breakwater and then be connected to a ramp and road and parking to make it accessible to a fleet of coaches. Might be a good idea but the £35-40 million price tag looks less than half what it would cost. Do we really want these polluting monsters anywhere near us?

Fell · 30 days ago · Report

Spook "The men say (it) need not cost the taxpayer anything." Note the date. In 2014 this site reported that Peel Ports were going to invest up to £15 million moving the Liverpool Landing Stage too. Hopefully at least this commitment is genuine.

Spook · 30 days ago · Report

But what about infrastructure changes? Who will pay for those? And they won't come cheap. As for projected visitor numbers are those blue sky figures or is there a solid basis to them? I've learned that if it sounds too good to be true it usually is. And while we're at it what IS the story on the new radar at the airport? Maybe I've missed something but it all seemed to go quiet.

Fell · 30 days ago · Report

CV according to the article no taxpayer money needed - which is ideal. Good for tourism - and a free mention in the mass of weekly cruise line advertisements in weekend press.

Manx born (formerl CV) · 30 days ago · Report

Excellent idea. Now the Prom has been fixed and Phil Gawne has left we would have the money to spend on it.

Bleb Veg · 30 days ago · Report

Manx Gas and Manx Petroleums will have to write "Welcome to the Isle of Man" on their tanks. Or relocate to make space for the 70 coaches needed to move 3,500 people.

Fell · 30 days ago · Report

It would be helpful if the proponents of the scheme could say upfront what, if any, taxpayer funding is needed. For example will access roads, the electricity cable changes, harbour works, rate subsidies & any ancillary project needs be privately funded?

Spook · 30 days ago · Report

What's the latest news about the airport radar? Another leading edge thing.

ET · 30 days ago · Report

"The latest propsal, developed with Royal Haskoning DHV, a Dutch engineering and design company". Here we go again with the 'and I just happen to know an organisation that can assist with this failsafe, guaranteed to succeed, definitely what's needed, economically miraculous £35/40M scheme'. If it's that waterproof Mr Robertshaw then you fund it. It can't fail.

Foxy lady · 30 days ago · Report

Best news I have read in ages....the quicker it built the better for all the island, it has to be a HUGE bonus. Crikey we have more to offer than the orkneys..

James · 30 days ago · Report

Douglas is obvious but are there any other sites around the Island that may be more suitable than Douglas. Port Erin and Ramsey come to mind, where a natural headland could provide shelter or possibly incorporate the Ramsey pier structure. Even better if tidal electricity generating turbines could be included giving two streams of income

Fell · 30 days ago · Report

An excellent idea if it can be funded privately. The funding costs would probably be over £3 million pa. plus the profit needed to make it viable. Orkneys had 83,visits in 2015. How many needed here for it to work?

Fell · 30 days ago · Report

An excellent idea if it can be funded privately. The funding costs would probably be over £3 million pa. plus the profit needed to make it viable. Orkneys had 83,visits in 2015. How many needed here for it to work?

Spook · 30 days ago · Report

He would say that wouldn't he.

Ron · 30 days ago · Report

The island can and should cash-in on its location (as well as what it still has to offer as a place to visit). Being right in the centre of the British Isles & Ireland, it is ideally placed for tourists who tour (and many do these days). A pity no-one got onto this earlier.

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