|The border entry point is the spanish side of the Gibraltar airport runway|
Julian Bray writes: Gibraltar could soon be dumped as a regular Port of Call by cruise ships in coming seasons, senior industy sources have indicated. As reflected in a parliamentary debate on Gibraltar in the House of Commons, London, earlier today (Wednesday 15th October); which reported the recently elected Spanish Government is no longer co-operating in the trilateral talks on maintaining cordial relations between Gibraltar and Spain.
It also comes on a day when the |Home Secretary Theresa May MP announced the UK is withdrawing from all EC pre Lisbon Police and Criminal Justice matters, reserving the right to opt back in to single EC measures as appropriate.
As a result a growing number of cruise lines are considering dropping Gibraltar and no longer consider it as an important port of call, following a renewal of repetitive border delays between the Rock and Spain.
Delays of up to five hours at a time are being experienced as the local Guardia Civil [GC] (The Guardia Civil is in essence the Spanish gendarme. It is a police force that has both military, maritime and civilian functions plus a foreign peace-keeping role. It enjoys military status and is the equivalent of a federal paramilitary police), GC units are closing the border for several hours at a time, on the pretext of conducting searches for smuggled goods from Gib into Spain and the reverse. In addition they are conducting patrols allegedly within British territorial waters, which has frequently involved the armed intervention of the Royal Navy.
Clearly cruise line guests making day trips to Spain, and on organised coach excursions are not arriving back in time due to the border delays, and in most cases the cruise ship has to vacant its berth, leaving passengers stranded. The delays either require the offloading of the missing passengers luggage, or at their own expense passengers to travel by rail or air to the next port of call.
Cruise lines have also noted that by excluding Gibraltar they can extend time at provisioning ports such as Lisbon, Vigo and Barcelona, and also preserve the high level of on-board spend where duty free tobaccos, alcohol and shopping are now an important part of the profitability of any cruise. In particular Vigo in Gallicia, Northern Spain has made a substantial investment in a new cruise terminal, ship provisioning and port side visitor attractions,
The border delays have also affected the rapid transit of seriously ill passengers to Spanish hospitals. In some cases it is claimed, 'private ambulances' (hearses) have also been refused entry to Spain, and the body has had to be repatriated 'Medevac' by air from Gibraltar airport.
Other problems are also caused by Spanish hospitals and medical clinics refusing to accept the European Health Card, and demanding payment in full from British Citizens before they will offer treatment or supply medications. They say the Central Governemen,t of Spain isn't refunding the costs involved although the funds are being paid by the UK.
Contributor: Media, Cruise Line , Aviation, Politics & Travel Expert, Broadcaster & Journalist Julian Bray NUJ, EQUITY UK Landline: 01733 345581 Mobile: 07944 217476 ISDN2 downline +44(0)1733 555 319 (UK HOME ISDN 017 33 55 53 19) G722/APT-X Dual Codecs Glensound C5 SKYPE: JULIAN.BRAY.UK