Eyemouth Harbour could become a calling point for cruiseliners if the idea proves to be viable.
The notion has won backing from Jim Hume, South of Scotland MSP and Honorary Provost of Eyemouth, Douglas Younger, who said he’d welcome anything that would help revive the harbour during a difficult period for the local fishing industry.
Mr Hume said: “Eyemouth is already a popular destination for day trippers and short break visitors, and there could be scope for building on this by making the port available for use by cruise liners.
“Clearly this is very much an idea at this stage and there are many considerations such as the logistics of manoeuvering large boats, the facilities needed to accommodate large numbers of visitors to the town and not least the careful integration of activities with fishing boats.”
East Berwickshire Councillor Michael Cook commented: “The prospect of Eyemouth harbour being used by cruise ships is a germ of an idea at this stage.
“Anyone familiar with the harbour will know that it would not be possible for a cruise ship to come into harbour - it would be too broad and have too deep a draught for that. However, perhaps it would be possible for passengers to be decanted into smaller vessels and brought in to sample the attractions of Eyemouth and the surrounding area.”
Councillor Cook insisted it would be important to balance any new kind of activity with existing activity, such as fishing, dive and charter boats, and leisure sailing craft; and with potential new activity, such as servicing offshore windfarms, which he felt could represent a “significant opportunity” for Eyemouth.
He added: “As Jim suggests, the harbour trust will want to learn from the experience of other ports. The trust will also want to make sure it directs its energies to where it can deliver the greatest benefit.
“However, any prospect of bringing resources and spend into the town should be investigated.”
Douglas Younger, chair of Eyemouth Town Council, said he “welcomed the suggestion with open arms.”
“It’s very encouraging news that this idea is being considered for Eyemouth,” Mr Younger said. “We desperately need more people to come to the town and I think it would be the perfect dropping off place or for people to board.
“Any efforts to help give the harbour a new lease of life should be welcomed and I certainly welcome this proposal with open arms.
“We have had navy boats into the harbour before but whether or not cruiseliners could be accommodated is an important question. I think every avenue should be investigated.”
A Scottish Borders Council spokesperson confirmed that SBC is looking at examples of other ports, such as Kirkwall and Lerwick, and will investigate the idea with VisitScotland.
Eyemouth Harbour Trust chair, Catherine Home Robertson, commented: “Eyemouth Harbour Trust are continually looking at ways of diversification to ensure preservation and future development of the harbour. The trust strives to maximise visitor numbers through the port’s gateway on an ongoing basis, and cruise liners are one such potential opportunity being explored.”