Cruises are back, shopkeepers have wind in their sails
Here on the Rock, the return of cruiseships, particularly passenger cruiseships, is putting a smile on many faces. We went to meet some shopkeepers on the ground to see how they feel about this ‘comeback’, and its eagerly awaited economic impact.
The big cruiseliners have reappeared at Port Hercules. You will no doubt have noticed these floating hotels over the last month or so. Between April and September, 137 of them are expected to spend a day in the Principality’s port. The Prince’s Palace is a must-see on the itinerary for tourists who disembark. The many shops that surround it, running through Old Monaco, have become as much a part of the landscape as the building itself, and reap its benefits.
These tourists have more money to spend and are bigger spenders
Alexandra Rinaldi owns the ‘Les Cinq Saveurs’ store. Surrounded by a vast array of soaps, perfumes and candles with intoxicating scents, the shopkeeper is delighted with the situation: “It’s not just cruises that are back, it’s international tourism too”. And Alexandra has noticed something important about these visitors. “Generally speaking, these tourists have more money to spend and are bigger spenders,” she explains.
Cruise passengers in Monaco but not only
One street further on, the lunchtime service at U’Cavagnetu is just winding up. Here, too, tourists from all over bring with them a breath of fresh air. “The Americans, the Dutch, the Germans, are back.” says Sébastien, who has been working in the restaurant for several years. Behind the young man, sightseers fill the street. “You see, today, there are no boats in the port but there’s still a crowd,” Sébastien. points out. Why ? “Tourists are bussed in from nearby towns where other cruise ships are docked,” he continues.
I remain optimistic but it is not enough for the moment
Even if they do not dock in Monaco, the cruise ships provide customers for all the Monegasque shopkeepers, well almost all. In one of the many souvenir shops in Monaco-Ville, the manager quietly expresses her skepticism: “Apart from a few boats, I haven’t seen a big difference […]I remain optimistic but it is not enough for the moment.”
“Cruises impact us from May to September, it’s almost the entire year’s turnover” adds a second owner, admid cups and caps sporting Monaco’s colours.
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The economic impact was confirmed by Olivier Lavagna, director of the Société d’Exploitation des Ports de Monaco (SEPM), at the beginning of April. “For the SEPM (Monaco ports authority), they represent 10% of annual turnover, for the Principality we are talking about several million euros. This is not insignificant for the local economy, “, he explained to Monaco Info.
Our research for other figures led us to the economic report by the Regional Economic, Social and Environmental Council in the PACA region, published in 2016. It states that, for our neighbours in the Alpes-Maritimes, “the average expenditure of cruise passengers is 105€ at start and end destination and 39€ in transit ports”. Which totals “€40 million in economic benefits for the territory”.