The latest Cruise Visitor Survey conducted on behalf of Economic Development, reports that average spend per disembarking cruise visitor increased to £36.46 per head in 2017, an increase of 15.9% compared with the previous year. This was likely helped by a noticeable increase in the amount of time visitors spent ashore in Guernsey, with almost two thirds of passengers spending four or more hours ashore.
Despite the increase in average spend, the overall value of cruise visitors to Guernsey remained fairly static in 2017 at just over £4m overall (-0.4% fall versus 2016). This was due to a drop in overall disembarking visitor numbers to 110,288 (versus 133,000 in 2016), caused by the failure of 15 ships to disembark over 20,000 passengers and crew because of adverse weather conditions.
The UK is still the main source market for cruise visitors to Guernsey and continues to grow, now representing 70% of total disembarking passengers and crew. The 2017 report shows that half of the respondents were over the age of 60, albeit the proportion of over 60s has fallen (54% in 2017 versus 64% in 2016). The average party size has shown growth in 2017 with 2.8 people per party versus 2.4 people in both 2015 and 2016.
Retail remained the largest category of spend, with 70% of cruise visitors spending an average of £36.65 on retail while ashore (up from £32.02 in 2016). Despite the increase in average spend per visitor, overall spend on retail fell to £2.8m overall (-8%), again a reflection of the overall fall in disembarking visitor numbers.
Categories showing an overall increase in spend in 2017 included restaurants, cafes and bars (£0.71m overall - an increase of 34%) and attractions (£0.11m overall spend and a 175% increase). While the proportion of visitors spending on tours (including pre-booked tours) increased from 18% to 20% in 2017, average spend on this category fell by 24%, with overall spend on tours falling by almost a third to £0.36m. This was likely influenced by the failure of some ships to get their passengers ashore.
Analysis was conducted to identify differences in spending patterns for visitors on their first or middle port of call versus their last port of call, and also for those on a taster cruise (where Guernsey was the only port of call on the itinerary). Findings demonstrated that visitors who were on their last port of call spent more than those on their first or middle port of call; this could be due to passengers spending the last of their cruise budget at the last destination. Those visitors on a taster cruise spent the highest amount of money in Guernsey, due to a small number of passengers and crew purchasing higher-priced, more expensive items.
Analysis also showed that visitors spent less on a Sunday in Guernsey versus other days of the week, demonstrating the opportunity for more retail outlets to benefit from trading on a Sunday.
Part of the strategy to support and develop the cruise market stems from the recognition that this channel offers strong opportunities for converting cruise passengers to repeat visitors and this is borne out in the final 2017 figures. An overwhelming 90% of disembarking passengers and crew stated that they would be likely to visit Guernsey again, with very high satisfaction ratings given to local facilities and services as well as restaurants, cleanliness, security and safety.
Mike Hopkins, director of marketing and tourism at VisitGuernsey said: 'Despite the challenges of this season, the cruise market continues to show continued growth and be a vital part of Guernsey's tourism business.'