SA prepares for the cruising boom
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Johannesburg - The South African cruise industry is growing at a rapid rate and moves are afoot to improve port passenger terminal infrastructure to cope with the increasing demand.
Allan Foggitt, sales and marketing director for MSC Cruises, says: “Cruising has never performed better.
“To date, more than 80 percent of our annual budget has been achieved, and we are sitting on an occupancy rate of 70 percent, with many of our cruises sold out.”
Foggitt says the time is right to improve efficiency.
In a joint initiative, MSC and the Transnet National Ports Authority are to make further improvements to the passenger terminal in Durban.
“N-shed was initially a warehouse that was used as a terminal when we started cruising in local waters in 1989,” Foggitt says.
There were 1 300 passengers in a season then.
“During the 2015-16 cruise season, we are expecting well over 92 000 passengers to pass through the terminal.”
Although the terminal was upgraded a few years back, further improvements are needed to accommodate the increasing number of passengers more comfortably and efficiently.
“Impressively, the upgraded terminal will be able to process 5 000 passengers in five hours,” says Foggitt.
Thanks to the long-standing partnership between the Transnet National Ports Authority and MSC, the upgraded passenger terminal boasts a variety of improvements.
The most noticeable of these are extra signage, balustrades, turnstiles and sail shades, new ramps, a new fast-track lounge, immigration and check-in desks, new baggage scanners and conveyor belts, an air-conditioning system, and extra seating.
There is also a back-up generator to be used when there is load shedding.
Foggitt says the upgrades will allow MSC to deliver improved efficiencies.
“The upgraded terminal is now bigger, which will go a long way in improving provisioning operations and passenger flow.
“The upgraded passenger terminal will allow us to achieve a much smoother turnaround, which is not only preferred by cruise industry itineraries, but by our passengers as well.
“The new upgrades will also make the embarkation and disembarkation process a lot more comfortable for passengers.”
Today, the oceans are big business and have become a growth point for a variety of sectors other than tourism, including fishing, marine transport and even electricity generation.
The ocean economy is an integral part of the government’s commitment to radical transformation to move South Africa forward and address the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Foggitt notes that job creation is a fundamental element of the joint initiative entered into by the ports authority, MSC and affiliated companies.
“We have undertaken to create more jobs for unskilled South Africans by establishing further opportunities for them to work on MSC Cruises’ fleet of ships,” he says.
“Job creation will be in our hospitality and crewing departments, and the employment initiatives have been made available through MSC’s training school.
“The South Africans who have gone through the training and employment process successfully have been well received and they have gone from strength to strength.”