A safe travel corridor for cruise visitors is on offer
If international cruise travel can reopen next year, cruise passengers will spend an estimated EUR 40 million in Helsinki.
Ports that receive cruise passengers have been working with foreign shipping companies’ shipping agents to design a model – a travel corridor or travel bubble – that will enable vessels and cruise passengers to visit ports and come ashore in a safe, healthy and risk-free manner.
The model has been drawn up by a team comprising representatives of ports that will be receiving cruise passengers in the coming winter 2020–2021 and summer 2021 seasons (the Port of Helsinki, Port of Turku, Port of HaminaKotka, Port of Mariehamn, Kvarken Ports, Port of Rauma and Port of Oulu) and foreign shipping companies’ shipping agents (C & C Portagency and GAC Finland).
“We intend to present the model to both national and local actors in the healthcare and social services sector. Finland is a popular travel destination, as we currently have the lowest number of coronavirus infections in the whole of Europe. We should take advantage of that,” says Sari Turkkila, General Manager at Shipbrokers Finland.
In the model, local authorities will be presented with the cruise company’s health security plan well before a vessel docks, allowing the authorities to make their own risk assessment. When the vessel arrives in port, it will fill out a maritime health questionnaire and, if required, make a Maritime Declaration of Health that states, for example, whether there are any infectious diseases aboard the ship. Cruise passengers will have had to show negative test results before their trip, and only healthy people will have been allowed aboard.
The ship will have a doctor onboard who will monitor passengers’ health. Some shipping companies will also provide passengers with the opportunity to take a coronavirus test onboard their ships, and such ships will also be able to analyse these tests onboard – only healthy people will be allowed ashore.
Cruise passengers will only spend about 6–8 hours ashore in Finland. During this time, they will follow a guided programme in small groups, led by Finnish partners who meet the shipping company’s health security requirements.
“For example, the shipping company’s health security plan could specify that buses may only be filled to 50–70 per cent capacity, and that both guides and participants must wear masks. Finnish official regulations would also be followed,” says Turkkila.
Turkkila says that it is vital for tour operators to ensure that people are healthy when they both enter and leave a vessel.
“And we have a travel corridor in which it’s possible to ensure that travellers won’t infect us and we won’t infect them.”
“It’s vital for tour operators to ensure that people are healthy when they both enter and leave a vessel. And we have a travel corridor in which it’s possible to ensure that travellers won’t infect us and we won’t infect them.”
Turkkila says that incomplete legislation is currently causing problems.
“Tour operators around the world want to bring their customers to Finland, but are they allowed to come? They want to know now, in good time,” she says.
Cruise ship visits generate a wide range of employment and income for Finns. Tour guides, bus companies, logistics companies, cafés and restaurants all get their share of the money spent by cruise passengers.
According to a survey of cruise passengers’ spending habits commissioned by the City of Helsinki, one cruise passenger spends an average of EUR 63.70 during a five-hour visit. 266 cruise ships visited Helsinki in 2018, bringing 513,000 passengers who spent a total of more than EUR 32 million in the city. In a normal year, international cruise traffic will also pay about EUR 5 million to the State in fairway charges, plus port and pilotage charges.