More cruise and yacht visitors are being attracted to the remote South Atlantic shores of St Helena according to the latest figures released by St Helena Tourism.
The total number of visitors arriving by sea reached 3,132 in 2010. Cruise ship numbers held up well, but the most impressive growth was demonstrated by yacht visitors, up 15% to 545 in 2010 against 475 in 2009. Significant growth is already being seen in 2011, with yacht visitors in the first quarter already at 507, almost the same level as the whole of 2010. This is no doubt in part attributable to recently improved yachting facilities on the island.
The average number of visitors per cruise ship increased by 75% in 2010 against 2009, from 426 to 748; and cruise visitor numbers are already up for 2011 and 2012. Satisfaction levels among cruise visitors remained extremely high with 96% of visitors rating their visit Good or Above. For most people it was their first visit to St Helena, and 96% said they would recommend the island to their friends. Descriptions of the island included “once in a lifetime experience” and “a paradise”.
According to Janet Shankland, Sales and Marketing Executive, St Helena Tourism: “The upward trend signifies a positive future for sea-borne tourism to St Helena, with more cruise and tour operators attracted by its unique position and remarkable history and nature, best known as the place of Napoleon’s exile.
“Plans to build a new breakwater at Jamestown Wharf with enhanced landing facilities for cruise ships are also underway. This comes as part of a wider investment in infrastructure and the tourism offering under our ‘extraordinary’ branding,” she explains.
Presently the only means of getting to St Helena, located 1,500 miles from Cape Town, is by sea. The island is regularly served by one of the last Royal Mail ships, the RMS St Helena, a 128-berth passenger/cargo vessel. Other cruise lines servicing St Helena include Seabourn, P&O and Silversea. The new breakwater is expected to be completed three years after the contract, currently up for tender, has been awarded.