Surge of cruise passengers 'frightening but good'

Cruise ship passengers queue at Best Cafe, in Lower Stuart St, for fish and chips yesterday....
Cruise ship passengers queue at Best Cafe, in Lower Stuart St, for fish and chips yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
The hospitality industry has been encouraged to do more research and be ''as prepared as they can'' for cruise ship visits as some Dunedin businesses start to fret at the demand from a ''frightening'' number of cruise ship customers coming past their counters.

Cruise ship passengers queued up at the counter at Best Cafe for fish and chips yesterday - a day the restaurant would normally be closed.

Cafe owner Marc Yeoman said he only opened on Sundays when the cruise ships were in because it could increase his revenue by up to 100%.

''It's frightening how many are coming through.

''Normally, we do about 60 meals at lunchtime.

''The difference is, we do 80 to 120 meals when the cruise ships are in.

''When they are in, our clientele doubles for the day.''

Mr Yeoman said last year, there were days when the restaurant had to close because it ran out of stock.

''It was that busy. We've learnt from that this year.

''It's frightening, but it's a good thing.''

Sea Princess brought nearly 1000 passengers to Dunedin yesterday, and the city's businesses are now preparing for the surge from two more cruise ships - Radiance of the Seas and Celebrity Solstice - which are due later this week.

The ships are expected to bring up to 5350 more passengers into the city.

With the concentration of cruise ship visits increasing each year, Otago Chamber of Commerce chief executive John Christie said the city's hospitality providers needed to be as prepared as they could be so they could maximise the revenue from visiting tourists.

''They need to work out where the cruise ships are coming from - whether they are carrying passengers from Australia, America, Asia or Europe - and what they want to see and buy, and how much they are prepared to spend.''

It was advice Mr Yeoman had already noted.

''It's a bit of a lottery - it depends on if Dunedin is the boat's first port of call or last port of call.

''If it's the last port of call, there's lots of people wanting to get rid of their New Zealand currency.''

Mr Yeoman believed the throngs of cruise ship passengers were coming to his restaurant because he had advertised to the cruise lines and he had a good reputation with the tour guides.

He also credited the Dunedin Railway Station, the Dunedin Courthouse and Toitu Otago Settlers Museum for attracting increased tourist foot traffic to the area.

''There is also the fact we make old school fish and chips - the way things used to be.''

The manager of Lower Stuart St business Living Light Candles, Jude Sleeman, said she also opened her store specially on Sundays when a cruise ship was in, because visitors were looking for New Zealand-made products, and it was well worth the effort for the business that resulted.

Mr Christie said the Best Cafe was not the only Dunedin business feeling the pressure of increased tourist numbers.

''There's no question the cruise ships do provide a significant number of extra visitors, which does create some concern for business owners around stock levels and staffing.

''It does put pressures on some businesses, but they are good pressures.

''From season to season, Dunedin businesses are getting better at coping,'' he said.

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