Bauke Visser, professor of Micro-Economics at Erasmus School of Economics, discusses the costs and benefits of cruise ships in Rotterdam in a broadcast by NPO Radio 1. Queen Marie 2, one of the largest cruise ships in the world, recently docked in Rotterdam. Is this really good for the economy and what about the environment?
Bauke Visser started his research into the regional benefits of cruise tourism in Rotterdam after he found out that the often-heard figure of 1 million euros revenue per cruise call was based on a report by Cruise Port Rotterdam, the local cruise terminal operator. Not even city council members are allowed to read the report.
Based on publicly available data, he estimates that the net benefit for the Rijnmond region is about 70,000 euros per call. He compares that figure with the damage to public health caused by the emission of just one pollutant, nitrogen, by cruise ships in the Rijnmond region, again using publicly available data. The average damage amounts to approximately 550,000 euros per call, and is thus more than 9 times higher than the average net benefit. In the interview on NPO Radio 1, VVD councillor Dieke van Groningen mentions that Rotterdam wants to contribute to the sustainability of the cruise sector by providing shore power: the electric charging of the ships. Visser, however, mentions that this is very expensive: for the port to recoup the costs of this project, the number of ships would have to increase by 50%, with all the large-scale pollution that would entail.
The article in Trouw also discusses the slow uptake of clean technology by the cruise industry and the fact that the industry would benefit from increased transparency. Visser has created a website to make these and other findings about the cruise in Rotterdam accessible to the general public. As a result, some city council members start asking critical questions.