Tynwald, the Isle of Man parliament, earlier this month gave its approval to invest £80m over the next three years or so to expand the island’s marina and port facilities.
The main strategy behind this significant investment is to expand cruise tourism and the plans are aimed at ensuring “island facilities are robust, modern and practical for both industry and leisure,” an Isle of Man government spokesman said.
The main thrust of the new investment is to develop a deep-water cruise ship berth on the seaward side of Victoria pier in Douglas, the island’s main port and capital. This will cost some £11m and will enable cruise ships up to 240m (788ft) to berth alongside. Currently cruise ships have to anchor in Douglas Bay and use tenders the transport passengers ashore.
This could see the current 6,500 cruise passengers a year increase to over 40,000 in the next 25 years.
Laurence Skelly MHK, Minister for Enterprise, says: “The Isle of Man has seen growing interest from cruise visitors in recent years, becoming a valued place to visit and explore. However, we are currently unable to benefit from thousands of potential extra visitors to the Isle of Man, as larger cruise ships are simply unable to dock using the current facilities.”
In terms of marinas, existing facilities in Douglas and Peel are both highlighted within the development strategy as opportunities for investment. Both can accommodate yachts up to 12m-15m (39ft-49ft), with Douglas having 130 berths and Peel 120.
Within the development strategy a further marina is identified as a possibility at Port St Mary, but no details of the latter in terms of size is given. This would be a full-tidal access facility and it is envisaged that it offers an option for private investment. Ramsey, in the north of the island, is seen as possibly being developed as a marine service centre.