Tap­ping into the cruise mar­ket

YASTA hopes to see in­creased vis­its to Port of Yar­mouth

The Queens County Advance - - CLASSIFIEDS - THEVANGUARD.CA

Yar­mouth hopes to be­come a des­ti­na­tion for more and more small cruise ships.

And work­ing to­wards this goal is Yar­mouth and Aca­dian Shores Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion (YASTA), which says there are many things that po­si­tion the port well for this to hap­pen, but there are also weak­nesses to over­come.

How­ever be­tween the smooth sail­ing and the rough waters is op­por­tu­nity – and this is what the area wants to tap into.

“They know their guests. They’ve done re­search to at­tract their guests to book their cruises so they know what they’re in­ter­ested in,” YASTA gen­eral man­ager Neil Macken­zie said about the cruise op­er­a­tors dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion to Yar­mouth town coun­cil. “We have to try and fo­cus our ex­pe­ri­ences to that niche mar­ket and what those guests want.”

In Septem­ber 2016, YASTA was asked to ex­plore op­por­tu­ni­ties in re­la­tion to the po­ten­tial cruise mar­ket. It sees an op­por­tu­nity for the town to tap into the niche cruise mar­ket, de­scribed as small, lux­ury and/or ad­ven­ture and ex­pe­di­tion cruise ships. These ships usu­ally carry less than 1,000 pas­sen­gers and it is very com­mon to have ships that carry 200 or less. It’s the lat­ter mar­ket that YASTA would look to tar­get.

Af­ter dis­cus­sions with Tourism Nova Sco­tia and the At­lantic Canada Cruise As­so­ci­a­tion about po­ten­tial op­por­tu­ni­ties, YASTA de­ter­mined a Port Readi­ness Work­shop was its first step, which it car­ried out in Jan­uary. Tourism Nova Sco­tia had also ad­vised YASTA the Port of Yar­mouth could not be pro­moted as a small cruise ship des­ti­na­tion with­out par­tic­i­pat­ing in a cruise readi­ness ex­er­cise.

The niche cruise mar­ket is fore­casted to grow by 18 to 20 per cent over the next five or so year, said Macken­zie, who spoke about things the Port of Yar­mouth has go­ing for it. The port is close to New Eng­land, Cana­dian Bor­der Ser­vices Agency is lo­cated at the ter­mi­nal and the port is es­tab­lished as one that can eas­ily ac­com­mo­date be­ing the First Point of Ar­rival in Canada. There is some flex­i­bil­ity for sched­ul­ing and the port has a his­tory of suc­cess­ful vis­its with other small cruise lines. A safe, af­ford­able and un­crowded des­ti­na­tion also bodes well, said Macken­zie.

Still, there are weak­nesses, he noted. The max­i­mum ship size that can be ac­com­mo­dated is 500 feet in length and the har­bour is nar­row and shal­low. The ter­mi­nal in­fra­struc­ture is old, needs im­prove­ment and isn’t overly wel­com­ing and at­trac­tive.

There are also no fa­cil­i­ties such as wash­rooms at the Gov­ern­ment Wharf, where ships of­ten dock, and there are con­flicts with ev­ery­day users of the port that would have to be avoided.

There are also what YASTA calls threats to op­por­tu­ni­ties, one of which be­ing com­pe­ti­tion from other ports.

Macken­zie called this is a very profit-driven in­dus­try with itin­er­ar­ies of­ten planned 18 or 24 months in ad­vance.

“Gen­er­ally speak­ing, cruise lines are look­ing for qual­ity trans­porta­tion (coaches, taxis), qual­i­fied shore ex­cur­sion providers, port agents, wel­come area at the port, rea­son­able prices . . . ,” he said.

What there is to see and do in a port also in­flu­ences guest sat­is­fac­tion rat­ings, which can dic­tate whether cruise lines wants to re­turn.

“Cruise lines are look­ing for tourism prod­ucts that fit their de­mo­graph­ics . . . and are wellthemed ex­pe­ri­ences, ide­ally with a good va­ri­ety of ex­cur­sions to show­case the des­ti­na­tion,” Macken­zie said.

He noted one thing that is be­ing added to Yar­mouth’s wa­ter­front next sum­mer are har­bour tours by Lu­cien and Si­mon Leblanc, who run the pop­u­lar Tus­ket Is­land Boat Tours.

“We know vis­i­tors are look­ing for that kind of ex­pe­ri­ence,” Macken­zie said.

“We’re re­ally happy to see some­thing in our har­bour. The ho­tels are very much on side be­cause it’s some­thing they can sell.”

YASTA, mean­while, is mov­ing for­ward by be­com­ing a mem­ber of the At­lantic Canada Cruise As­so­ci­a­tion. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives also at­tended the Cruise Canada New Eng­land Sym­po­sium in June and have met with many cruise ex­ec­u­tives. At the lo­cal level, YASTA says key com­po­nents in­volve es­tab­lish­ing a for­mal cruise com­mit­tee and es­tab­lish­ing wel­com­ing and send off pro­ce­dures.

CARLA ALLEN

The Cale­do­nia Sky dur­ing a visit to Yar­mouth.

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