Port of Cromarty Firth is looking forward to a record-breaking August as it brings in around 49,000 cruise ship passengers to the Highlands.
This total, expected in just one month, is over 50% of the figure achieved for the entire 12 months of 2016, when 97,992 passengers visited the Port that year.
The August total will also herald another record-breaking year, with more than 180,000 passengers coming into the Port in 2019 on 109 cruise ships. That will beat last year’s record for Invergordon of 93 ships and 170,000 passengers and marks a 5% increase in the number of passengers and almost 15% increase in the number of ships.
These cruise passengers are set to boost the Highland economy by a massive £18 million, contributing to tourist attractions across the region, including Dunrobin and Cawdor Castles, Royal Dornoch Golf Club, Jacobite Cruises, and the Strathspey Steam Railway.
The industry also continues to help Invergordon become a tourist destination in its own right, with Invergordon Museum, the town’s famous mural trail and its thriving arts and crafts scene. It is also a base for the 68,000 crew that will be visiting the Highlands on these ships. Both the passengers and the crew spend time in Invergordon and benefit many of the businesses, from the food and gift retailers on the High Street to the independent tour operators and the local coach and taxi companies.
Allison McGuire, Cruise Manager of the Port of Cromarty Firth, said: “This is fantastic news. The Port and the Highlands are firmly on the stopover map for some of the world’s biggest and best cruise ships, taking advantage of the deep water and incredible attractions on offer. These visitors benefit the economy of Invergordon and the Highlands, as they create jobs and business opportunities.
Bob Buskie, Chief Executive of the Port of Cromarty Firth, said: “With more cruise ships visiting the Highlands, the ripple effect on jobs cannot be underestimated.
“An increase in passenger numbers means the need for more tour guides, security and marshalling officers, ground handling staff, coach drivers, pipers and employees in a host of other industries including whisky distilleries and tourist attractions. Coach drivers and ground handing support staff often stop overnight, which supports local accommodation providers as well. This is positive for people who live and work in the Highlands and it looks set to grow for years to come.”