Several Dunedin tourism operators say they are missing
out on thousands of dollars from cruise-ship passengers after
being banned from the wharf at Port Chalmers but experts say an
online presence is the key to attracting the tourists' cash, as
only 3% decide to book tours on the day. Star reporter Jonathan
Chilton-Towle looks into the issue.
Tour operators say being banned from the Port Chalmers
wharf is hurting their profits. Photo from Allied Press
Every year, cruise ships bring rich rewards to Dunedin's
economy but some tour operators feel they are missing out.
Previously, tour companies were able to sell tours to
passengers on the wharf but last year Port Otago banned
operators from the wharf, citing unruly behaviour.
Instead, operators were allowed to advertise with a single A3
poster and brochures at the wharf iSite and passengers were
able to book tours there or online.
Tours were also advertised in the ODT Cruise Guide,
which was given to disembarking passengers. A few companies
that had contracts with the cruise lines were allowed on to
Speaking at a cruise-ship debriefing meeting on Tuesday,
several tour operators said being banned from the wharf was
hurting their profits. A few disagreed saying they had had a
One driver said he had been to the first 12 cruise ships of
the season and had only attracted one passenger. The lack of
business had cost him 40% of his yearly income.
Another said in the season before the ban he had about 65
jobs from cruise-ship passengers. This season it was down to
25 jobs, a loss of about $25,000.
Diamond Limousines owner Calvin Hooper told The Star he had
not been involved with the cruise ships this season for
health reasons but if operators had been allowed on the wharf
his wife would have been there in his stead.
In the past, his business had made about $100,000 (not taking
into account costs) in the cruise season. This season, he had
missed out on that income.
Mr Hooper believed the ban was unfairly feeding a couple of
bigger operators who were allowed on to the wharf to shuttle
passengers into town, to the detriment of other operators.
Operators put forward a few ideas to remedy the problem,
including allowed them to rent space for stalls in the wharf
marquee or allowing a limited number of operators on to the
wharf to promote their tours.
One proposed banning all operators, including shuttles, from
the wharf to create a level playing field.
However, University of Otago marketing lecturer Dr James
Henry said research showed 73% of cruise passengers booked
tours before cruises, and 23% booked during the cruise.
Only 3% of passengers booked tours when they were in port -
this amounted to between 60 to 100 people.
Having a strong online presence was key to attracting
visitors, he said.
Port Otago commercial manager Peter Brown said there was no
way operators would be allowed back on to the wharf but
everything else was on the table.
Operators' comments would be taken to the Cruise Action Group
(which includes the port, the council and other bodies) and
it would make recommendations on how to proceed by May at the