Cashing in on cruise ships

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The old adage “if you build it they will come” may be the blueprint for Summerside to attract a portion of the very lucrative cruise ship market.

The city has had little success over the years in bringing cruise ships to the western capital.

On June 17, Summerside welcomed its first cruise ship since 2005 and that was by default.

The ship could not get a berth in Charlottetown so it came to Summerside.

The Summerside port has limitations on the size of the cruise ships it can accommodate because of its shallow draft, but it can certainly berth smaller vessels.

The Yorktown sailed in in June bringing with it more than 150 passengers and crew, a welcome plus for the local tourism industry. It will be back twice in September and once in October.

Projections for this year’s cruise ship season are calling for a record-breaking 70 ships bringing more than 140,000 passengers and crew to the Island.

Summerside needs to get a part of that market to bolster its tourism industry and it cannot rely on luck, as was the case with the Yorktown visit. It’s one thing to get them here but it’s something else to make them want to come back.

There’s a lot of work that needs to be done if Summerside is going to realize any economic benefit from the cruise ship industry.

Experience P.E.I., founded by Bill and Mary Kendrick, specializes in activities tourists don't normally get the opportunity to experience, and they are focusing on the cruise ship market. They have a unique marketing strategy to bring passengers to the western capital and Prince County area.

That’s all well and good but being able to bring the vessels into the Summerside port is something altogether different.

Passengers would have more time to spend in the city, providing there is something for them to see and do.

That’s where the blueprint comes into play, if there was one.

Arnold Croken, president of the Summerside Port Corporation, put it best.

“My message to retailers in Summerside is there is a lot of work to be done,” Croken said. “We have a lot to do here with our packaging and identifying with operators what do we have in Summerside and Prince County that could be attractive to the tour operators. We have to connect those together.”

It’s going to take a concerted effort on the part of city officials, the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Summerside, Downtown Summerside and merchants and operators in general to make a blueprint to attract and retain what is a lucrative tourism market.

Organizations: Summerside Port, Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce

Geographic location: Summerside, Charlottetown, Prince

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Recent comments

  • Tourism Operator that Knows Better
    August 10, 2013 - 06:56

    Seeing that this paper is biased and would not print my response regarding cruise ships, I will keep it simple for you. Cruise ships are an environmental drain on PEI and contribute very little to the economy.

  • Tourism Operator that Knows Better
    August 09, 2013 - 20:32

    The author of this article may want to do some research before trying to convince Summerside officials to start wasting more of the taxpayers dollars than they already do. There is little to no positive economic benefit to bringing these large ships into any port on PEI. The passengers on these ships do not and never will rent a room on PEI. Very few of them will ever even eat a meal here, why would they when all of their meals are included in the price of their cruise ticket and they are served the very best meals on their ship. These cruise ships sail in and drop off a few of their passengers to roam around the streets while they dump tons of their sewage and garbage on us. Then they proceed to take on tons of our fresh water and deplete one of our finest resources. Do up the math and you will find out that it is costing Islanders thousands of dollars to bring these monsters here with only a few select businesses getting any benefit at all.

  • RJ.
    August 09, 2013 - 10:05

    That is just great. Ship comes here, and most of the seasonal restaurants are closed. Good luck !