Speaking at a breakfast briefing as part of London International Shipping week, Dingle stressed that the cruise industry deserved “government support and encouragement at both a national and regional level”.
“We don’t have large asks beyond those of the shipping industry as a whole – support for maritime training and career development, support for cruise port development and investment, and a favourable fiscal regime beginning with the UK tonnage tax,” he said.
“But we do need the government to recognise both our needs and our opportunities as Brexit approaches.
“Crucially, we must not allow any excessive zeal in limiting entry into this country to affect the smooth processing of cruise customers arriving in and departing from our ports. A 3,000-bed cruise ship bringing tourists to a British port relies on being able to disembark its passengers in little more than an hour – failure to do so limits the experience ashore and British ports.”
Dingle also joined in calls for the government to agree an aviation deal with the EU, arguing: “Air links are essential, so we ask for no interference in air operating rules as Brexit takes effect”.
But he was also keen to stress the opportunities that Brexit could offer. “We will have the chance to increase the flexibility of tonnage tax, which will encourage the management of more cruise ships from the UK, and our departure from the EU should allow the restoration of a lucrative duty-free trade which should encourage more cruise ship visits to the UK.”
Asked by TTG whether the government was taking the industry’s concerns about Brexit seriously, Dingle insisted the sector had been having “very lengthy dialogue with the government since the referendum”, and added that there was a “general willingness to listen, which is very strong”.
Clia UK and Ireland chair Stuart Leven pointed out: “We are a global industry so that hopefully has influence on both sides – in Brussels too [as well as the UK], which is good.”
Dingle also dismissed over-capacity concerns, stating: “Our order book [as an industry] now runs to 2025. We only need to grow globally by 5% to absorb that increase. There are enormous opportunities.”