A little over a year ago I reported that the city of Portland, Maine had commissioned a $20 million cruise ship terminal without ever commissioning a study to determine what the benefit of cruise ship tourism actually is. Then-port director Jeff Monroe often claimed cruise ship passengers spent $200 a day; others estimated $103. Sources I spoke to predicted the number would be closer to $65.
After the piece came out, the city finally ordered a study and they released the results today. Cruise ship passengers spend $80.51 a day while on Portland port calls, according to a University of Maine study. That's less than half what Mr. Monroe has claimed, and 22% below previous assumptions. Cruise ship tourism, it turns out, is indeed significantly smaller than previously assumed.
Sadly, you'd never know this from today's Portland Press Herald article, which gives the impression that these figures refute (rather than confirm) the notion that the economic benefit of cruise ships have been over-hyped. (It also failed to address the long-standing concern that the people of Portland have invested in a terminal when most passenger dollars probably aren't spent in the City of Portland at all.) Given the ample paper trail on these points -- months ago I posted an entire collection just of my own reports on the topic -- it's upsetting that our newspaper of record is unable or unwilling to report the story properly.
I'm headed on an overseas assignment shortly, but am talking to sources and will be doing a short, non-blogospheric report for Working Waterfront before I leave.
Talking pirates on NHPR
4 weeks ago