Imagine the scene- a suitably sized (to allow for close to shore positioning) cruise liner weighs anchor off our coast and with the possible assistance of our local and knowledgeable ocean practitioners passengers are ferried to a local launch site.
On landing, they are conveyed by our transport providers to our key attractions such as our scenic and adventure filled Oribi Gorge where they can purchase locally produced craft, be entertained by traditional artists and savour our South African hospitality.
After their itinerary has been concluded, the visitors are transported back to their ship to continue north or towards Cape Town with fond memories of our Greater South Coast experience.
Exaggeration? Not really.
At the end of March, I had sight of an enquiry from an overseas based cruise operator requesting to provide their clients with a stop off as described above. Naturally there are aspects to their request that had to be considered that included the transition from sea to land at our landing sites and authorisation to in fact transport passengers from a ship to our coast, which as one knows can be a challenge.
Initial enquiries to the relevant authority with safety jurisdiction at sea suggests that this prospect may be a non starter. This due to the unpredictability of our seas and possible competency of foreign ferry masters not knowing our coastal conditions sufficiently well.
Given that Ugu South Coast Tourism needs to be proactive in opening up new market segments for our tourism, we are not going to lie down and die on this and as such, we in conjunction with Anton Botha from Hibiscus Coast Municipality will be looking deeper to ascertain whether this option will be in fact a closed door or whether we can (within regulatory) frameworks get approvals to offer the cruise tourism industry this landing option.
This may be an onerous task but if successful, I am confident that some day a cruise liner may well pop in close to Port Edward or Port Shepstone and our tourism service providers will do the rest. An awesome prospect to say the least.
As they say “If opportunity knocks, open the door wide open”- after all, usually cruise tourists are bigger spenders per capita than our normal domestic tourist. This is an opportunity we cannot ignore.
Till next time, have a pleasurable cruise through your week in our Paradise.