Mother City cruising to luxury gateway

By Anél Lewis Time of article published Oct 9, 2013

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Cape Town - After years of requests, Cape Town is to get its own cruise liner terminal – part of a multibillion-rand upgrade of the harbour – which should boost tourist numbers to the Mother City and provide a number of local jobs.

The terminal in the Duncan Dock’s E Berth is expected to open in about two years.

The construction of a dedicated terminal means more cruise ships will probably visit, bringing thousands of visitors eager to spend their dollars, euros and yen.

Last year the Department of Home Affairs banned cruise ships longer than 200m from berthing at the Waterfront for security reasons. There are no dedicated terminals for cruise ships, so they use the distant and undeveloped E and J berths at Duncan Dock.

The terminal is set to include arrival and departure facilities.

A 2011 City of Cape Town report found that one liner carrying 2 000 passengers and a crew of 600 would spend about R2.2-million a day.

Twenty-five such liners would bring in an additional revenue of R228.5m. In 2011, a total of 19 cruise ships brought more than 11 000 visitors to the province.

Transnet confirmed on Tuesday that a 20-year contract for the construction and management of the berth was expected to be signed by November next year. Port manager Sipho Nzuza put the delay down to a large number of “legal issues”.

But Western Cape MEC of finance, economic development and tourism Alan Winde said this was too long.

“It should take a month to three months max. We need the economy to grow now. The long delay is not going to help us.

“Cape Town is a great cruise destination and by adding a cruise liner terminal we will be able to ramp this up,” he said.

Mayor Patricia de Lille welcomed Transnet’s commitment to opening the terminal within the next two years.

The city signed a memorandum of understanding with the Transnet National Ports Authority on Tuesday.

“I hope that we can work together to get more cruise liners into Cape Town,” said De Lille.

Transnet spokesperson Coen Birkenstock said 48 cruise ships came through the port in the past season, bringing an estimated 28 000 visitors to the city via the harbour. The Deutschland, MSC Sinfonia, Europa and MSC Opera were among them. Next January the Queen Mary 2 calls in Table Bay on its world cruise.

“With the infrastructure in place, we will see a definite growth in visits because we will have a dignified entrance to our city.”

The details of what the terminal will look like, and the exact nature of the work required, have not been announced.

Transnet’s general manager of risk and compliance, Sagree Chetty, said it was too soon in the tender process to divulge more information.

The deadline for bids is October 16.

But it is understood that a mixed-use building, possibly with office space, is planned, with facilities for Home Affairs and customs.

Winde said that as cruising was seasonal, the successful bidder would have to be creative with the space. The ideas being put forward were fulfilling this brief, “which is exactly what we want”.

The V&A Waterfront is one of the bidders.

De Lille said the port had been identified as a key driver of growth.

“We see the port as a major economic gateway for the city. However, given that we do not control port infrastructure, we must also understand that the port is part of national infrastructure and strategy and (understand) Cape Town’s place within these.”

De Lille was confident the city would benefit from the substantial investment in the Port of Saldanha, a strategic gateway for the oil and gas sectors. De Lille said Cape Town would pick up the excess capacity from Saldanha and serve as an entry for additional cargo goods in the region.

“We can host head offices, provide business services and other marine, oil and gas industry support services.”

Nzuza said Transnet would also support the ship repair industry to create jobs and generate more trade. “This is very important because it’s where you will be able to start employing people, especially welders and other artisans.”

In response to questions from Transnet about the city’s plans for Culemborg, De Lille said the council had downscaled the bulk size of the mixed-use development, approved eight months ago, because of infrastructure constraints. “We will brief you on these plans,” she said.

Durban will also get a new cruise ship terminal, estimated to cost between R500m and R2-billion, with the cruise division of the Mediterranean Shipping Company competing for this contract. - Cape Argus

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