Enjoying some ''fush and chups'' in Port Chalmers yesterday are cruise-ship passengers (from left) Steve and Carmel Yee and Sandie and Mark Hillard, all of Australia. Mr Hillard said they had enjoyed their day in Dunedin which included going on the Monarch wildlife cruise. They also relished a late afternoon in ''quaint'' Port Chalmers. ''We had to have some Kiwi fush and chips,'' he said. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Some smaller Dunedin tour and shuttle operators say a new
booking system for cruise-ship passengers is putting them out
Operators say several of the 40-plus operators who work at
peak season have already stopped seeking cruise-ship business
and others say they are on the verge of quitting, after
making little or no money this year.
Ron Harvey, from Dunedin Limousine Services, said he had been
making a comfortable income from cruise-ship visitors for 12
years. Last year, he did more than 80 trips from 88
This season, he had had only three jobs so far, and his
income was down so much he was seriously considering closing.
Kevin Gallagher, from Gallagher Shuttles, said he had made
$9000 from cruise passengers by this time last year. So far
this season, since the new system was introduced, he had made
The new system prevents tour operators from going on the
wharf to attract business, and requires all tour bookings to
be pre-booked or made through an i-Site visitor tent.
It was introduced after Port Otago received complaints from
passengers, cruise lines and other tour operators, and an
expression of concern from Cruise New Zealand, about unruly
behaviour from a few operators competing for business on the
Dunedin City Council visitor industry business development
adviser Sophie Barker said passengers were able to book any
of the many private tours, without favour, on the wharf, via
the i-Site visitor tent, which passengers went through as
they departed the ship.
A local bus service was available from Port Chalmers to
Dunedin, as an option.
Shuttles were operated by the cruise ships, and trips mostly
sold to passengers on board, outside of the DCC's control.
Ships also promoted certain aspects of destinations, which
could affect what passengers wanted to do.
Council staff had had three meetings with operators and given
them advice on how to make passengers aware of them, even
providing a checklist on how to better promote themselves,
''We have tried to help them, but a lot of people are
competing for a very little bit of business, for only about
60 days a year.''
Research showed only about 200 people of those coming ashore
in Dunedin from each ship were not already committed to an
''If [operators] don't get modern, and get on TripAdvisor or
establish a website, then they are invisible until the last
There was no question of the wharf being reopened to
operators, so affected businesses would have to put in extra
At least three operators are travelling to Akaroa to catch
Dunedin-bound passengers there and pre-book them on Dunedin
Ann Hayward, of Iconic Tours, said things had changed, but
she was relying more on her website for bookings and the
company's presence on travel recommendation website
TripAdvisor, a site many cruise passengers used, was also
working well. She was full most cruises.
Sharon Byles, of Hop-it, however, was not. She said she was
getting more bookings through her website, but it was not
covering her losses of direct bookings on the wharf.
Last year, she got at least one job from each visit she was
available for, but this season was ''a waste of time''. From
26 visits so far, she had four jobs, and was struggling to
She believed the problem was the operators' lack of
visibility. Passengers could not see them and, when they got
off the ships, could not find the options they were looking
for, as i-Site staff were not selling tours like operators
She also said i-Site staff seemed to be pointing passengers
in the direction of only a few operators. Other operators
expressed the same concerns.
''Passengers will ruin this industry for Dunedin, if they are
kept unhappy. They [DCC] must put us back [on the wharf],''
Ms Byles said.
Cruise-ship passengers recently told the ODT they
would have got a private mini van or private tour of Dunedin
if a van had been waiting at the wharf.
Others said they stayed in Port Chalmers because the cruise
ship-organised shuttles to Dunedin were too expensive.
Various people suggested the city council could do more to
promote local tour and shuttle operators and to get cruise
passengers into Dunedin.
Mr Harvey said he had been assured at a meeting with i-Site
staff last week that staff were not promoting any operators
over others, and they would work to improve their systems,
but there was little more that could be done.