The Ventura (1,800 passengers), the Silver Spirit (350), Sea Ventura (110) and the Silver Shadow (230 passengers) will seek other alternatives in the Archipelago after ruling out a landing on the Isla Bonita. The initial losses faced by palm merchants are equivalent to failing to meet the needs of 2,480 cruise passengers and around a thousand people who make up the different crews.
Although there are still dates for the docking of at least three of the boats that were destined for Santa Cruz de La Palma – the Silver Spirit, the Sea Aventura and the Silver Shadow -, the authorities have already been informed port of the changes of plans that they have introduced in their routes. These decisions have created enormous concern due to the business opportunities that are going to be lost in the next three weeks.
In the last dates there have been contacts between the parties to convey that the situation on the island is safe and that the risk of the volcano is minimal. In some cases, the opportunity to live an experience of seeing a volcano in full eruption on the ground has even been sold, but the refusal of the shipping companies to go to La Palma has raised alert levels even more to what could be considered as a contagion effect. And it is that given the possibility of losing a source of income in the next month and a half, key elements of La Palma economy have requested help from the Government of the Canary Islands, and in some cases to the Port Authority of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, so that act as mediators against the possibility of new cancellations. This situation is aggravated by the international air limitations that are accumulating at the Mazo airport (loss of connections after the pandemic and adverse days like the one experienced yesterday due to the ash rain).
Faced with the titanic effort that is being made since Canary Islands so that cruise ships do not continue to fall, some of the responses received are in line with the fact that at the moment road communications on La Palma are “quite deficient”.
With more than 30 kilometers of asphalt destroyed by the relentless advance of the washings, tour operators understand that travel times are going to grow considerably and that currently the priorities on the Island are other: to address the social emergency that is generated around to the neighbors who have had to be evicted from their homes. During the meetings prior to the cancellations of the four cruises, reference was made to the “normal situation” that exists in the areas that are far from the magmatic activity that originated in the early afternoon of September 19.
Small merchants, restaurateurs and taxi drivers are the ones who have expressed the most “complaints” after learning that Santa Cruz de La Palma will run out of cruise ships this month.
A double “peeping eye effect”
When the minister Reyes Maroto He declared that the eruption of La Palma had to be given a chance as a “tourist attraction” yet he was not aware of the one that was coming. Criticism rained down on him everywhere with the same intensity with which the ashes fell yesterday on the platform and runway at La Palma airport, but the truth is that his hasty and inopportune analysis prompted a “peeping eye effect” that has had a behavior bipolar. On the one hand, the La Palma Tourism Initiative Center estimates that October bookings will drop between 60 and 80% due to communication problems that accumulate on a daily basis.
But the volcano has also had hypnotic peaks that caught the curiosity of many people: in the first five days of the eruption the occupation of tourist beds – among which those that were given to people who were evicted from their homes were not counted – exceeded 90%. The loss of 2,480 cruise passengers this month represents a drain on the local economy, but there are voices such as Tomás Barreto, president of the Federation of Entrepreneurs of La Palma (Fedepalma), who prefer to leave a door ajar to hope: «Yes This is due to a specific situation that has been generated by the volcanic crisis, it is understandable, despite the economic damage that it is going to do us, but the important thing is to maintain unity and know that we have to come out of it together and stronger, “he says. about a problem that affects the entire island. Because “the cruise passenger who arrives in Santa Cruz de La Palma also takes a car to do his shopping in Mazo, Los Llanos de Aridane or Los Sauces”, he lists, not without forgetting that “any help is good for us to try to regain some normality in the shortest possible time.
Taking into account the strategic value that cruise ship tourists have in the economic fabric of La Palma – last year 70,656 cruise passengers visited the Island, which represented a drop of 71.34% in relation to the accumulated in 2019 -, many of the requests that these days politicians who visit ground zero of the eruption are being transferred to the “urgent need to communicate the Island again.” This is the starting point from which you want to strengthen one of the financial lungs of La Palma. The other, without a doubt, must be sought within the agrarian extensions that have been razed or cornered by runoff. There it is expected like May water (and not only due to the activation of the desalination plants in Puerto Naos) that aid will begin to arrive.