An £18.7m investment for Portsmouth International Port means the city would be a leading competitor in the cruise market, and also significantly improve ferry operations, as a capital bid for the funding is announced.
Portsmouth is already considered a major UK port and its commercial success means it contributed £7.8m this year to the council’s budget.
However, the city’s enviable location, connection to major transport routes, and capacity, means there is an opportunity to grow the cruise offer. In 2018 Portsmouth welcomed 48 calls and is looking to grow every year, with an ambition to reach over 100.
As a turnaround port, where ships take guests away on holiday, and a port of call, where ships visit a particular city as part of their itinerary, Portsmouth is ideally located for both.
Funding would allow essential leveling work to take place on the cruise berth, which would mean once completed the port could accommodate many more cruise lines who find the current layout challenging.
Work would also include changes to the current terminal building to handle cruise and ferry passengers more efficiently and appropriate walkway access for passengers to the ship.
This year is also important for the port’s customer Brittany Ferries and the arrival of their state-of-the-art environmentally friendly ship the Honfleur, followed by a further two more ships in 2021. It is a critical priority to replace the 30-year-old passenger boarding tower, required to get onto the ships. Currently in a poor state, the tower urgently needs replacing and built to modern, industry standards.
Ben Dowling, Portsmouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning, Regeneration and Economic Development said: “Portsmouth is the UK’s most successful council-owned port and we know it is the envy of many port operators.
“It contributes a significant amount to essential services and this could increase dramatically if the port has the investment to grow.
“Cruise is a market we have a real opportunity to develop, if we provide industry standard infrastructure. Major operators are keen to use Portsmouth but we must be able to accommodate ships appropriately. The increase in visitors to the city would have huge benefits, as would the additional berthing fees for the ships at the port.
“We have a 10-year deal with Brittany Ferries who is also investing substantially in their business, and we need to make sure the port has facilities to match.
“This capital bid goes forward to Full Council on 12 February and I hope our colleagues support the proposal.”
The funding is being recommended as part of Portsmouth City Council's capital budget which will go before the city's Cabinet and Full Council for approval in February. The capital budget invests in a range of infrastructure schemes throughout the city like buildings and facilities, rather than the day-to-day running of council services that have to be paid through a separate revenue budget.