Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Theme cruise ship chooses Málaga over Algeciras port

MS Grand Mistral
Promoter says a good opportunity was lost for lack of local institutional support
ALGECIRAS (Source: Agencies) The Grand Mistral cruise liner, with room for 1,800 passengers, will now be based at Málaga instead of Algeciras. The news wouldn't be especially important if it wasn't for the comments made by the man who promoted and sold the idea of a cruise around the Mediterranean identifying architecture and places related to Cuba. The project was not for just this one cruise, but to create other such themed journeys using Algeciras as a base. The port has always been envious of Gibraltar, where they see the largest and best such ships mooring daily.>>>SOON YOU WILL BE UNABLE TO READ THE REST OF ITEMS SUCH AS THIS UNLESS YOU SUBSCRIBE. Subscription information will be available soon.>>>
José Luis Benítez, who owns Tye Viajes, says, "A good opportunity was allowed to get away," after explaining that clients who had bought tickets for the cruise on September 15 would be transported to Málaga for free, to embark on the Ibero Cruceros cruise.

"We sold the product but we have not had the necessary local institutional support that was needed to make it work," said Benítez. As it stands, the Grand Mistral will set out from Málaga on September 15, headed for Sicily, Naples, Rome, Corsica and back to Málaga.

Had things been different, added Benítez, the ship would have sailed from Algeciras. "Our intentions were very good. The Port Authority backed the idea; we had visits from the ship's owners to see the facilities, and they wrote a favourable report that even recommended weekly moorings. But it was all in the hands of the local authorities, and it just didn't work out."

The project was 8 years in the making, but Benítez has not lost all hope that he may one day bring it to this town.

"This first cruise would have been the basis with which to attract other cruise ships, and turn Algeciras into a tourist destination, as has happened in many other places," he says. "It would generate employment not only in Algeciras itself but also in the area. We even offered free national publicity. But it didn't work out and this company will not come back."

Apparently, the subject came about during local elections, and "nobody paid attention" to the chance he was offering. "If God is willing, someday Algeciras will believe that it could easily become an important cruise ship port, with all the economic benefit it would bring," concluded Benítez.

It isn't as though the Campo doesn't need all the business it can get, we venture.

1 comment:

belinda said...

It looks like Algeciras will be stuck with the ‘ugly, grey industrial port town’ tag for a good few years to come after missing out on this golden opportunity. Meanwhile, across the Bay of Algeciras, Gibraltar is already cleaning up from cruises; its 2.7 million visitor tally last year certainly adds up to a few cups of coffee…Considering that tourism is one of Spain’s best bets for creating jobs and getting us out of this crisis, losing out on the cruise market is not merely stupid – it’s criminal!