INVERCLYDE’s new £20 million cruise ship visitor centre has been officially launched.
The project, led by Inverclyde Council, is part of the £1 billion Glasgow City Region City Deal funded by the Scottish and UK governments (£10.4 million), with contributions from Peel Ports (£8 million), operators of the existing Greenock Ocean Terminal, and the George Wyllie Foundation via Dunard Fund (£1.7 million).
The aim was to increase visitor numbers to 150,000 passengers a year and that has already been surpassed.
The new Greenock Ocean Terminal building was designed by Richard Murphy Architects and delivered by construction company Heron Bros.
The visitor centre features an arrivals/departure hall operated by Peel Ports Clydeport, as well as a museum and art gallery, the Wyllieum, paying tribute to renowned artist George Wyllie who worked as a customs officer in Greenock and lived for many years in Gourock.
There is also a Scotts restaurant and roof terrace with views of the River Clyde.
A new 200-metre floating pontoon was also completed by Peel Ports in partnership with the council, providing a cruise ship berth linking to the new visitor centre.
Councillor Drew McKenzie, provost of Inverclyde, said, “This is a magnificent venue that Inverclyde can be proud of. Our warm welcome is famous around the world and now we have a first-class venue befitting of that for visitors from near and far to enjoy all-year round, as well as the local community.”
UK Government minister for Scotland, Malcolm Offord, added, “The opening of the new Ocean Terminal today is the result of the combined efforts of the public and private sector working together, including £5.2 million investment from both the UK and Scottish governments – showing the power of working together to deliver for our communities.”
Scottish Government transport minister, Fiona Hyslop, said, “Cruise tourism is an important and growing component of the visitor economy across the country and this impressive new facility, made possible by Scottish Government and partners’ investment through the City Region Deal, can only help boost Inverclyde – and Scotland’s – profile to visitors.”
The official opening took place on the day Cunard cruise ship Queen Victoria stopped off. Inverclyde has a historical link with the cruise line as the first Cunard ship and subsequent ships were built in Greenock in the 1800s.
Jim McSporran, port director at Peel Ports Clydeport, said, “It’s a really special moment welcoming guests to Greenock Ocean Terminal for our cruise visitor centre opening ceremony today. The centre itself looks incredible and has been a huge success with the tens of thousands of passengers who have passed through it so far this year.”
Thousands of passengers and crew from around the world have already been enjoying the facilities on visits to Inverclyde this year. The arrivals and departures hall as well as the Scotts Greenock restaurant are already up and running with the Wyllieum expected to open fully in January 2024.
The museum shop is now open having welcomed customers for the first time at the official opening of the new terminal building on Friday 25 August.
Michael Dale, chairman of the Wyllieum, said, “The Wyllieum is delighted to be part of the Ocean Terminal Building designed by award-winning architect Richard Murphy. Just like George Wyllie’s work, our galleries, education hub and shop will be inspiring, welcoming, fun, and vibrant cultural spaces. We aim to break boundaries and speak to every age, not only to the local community of Inverclyde but also to our future national and international visitors.”
The £20 million investment includes work on the terminal building itself and marine works for the floating pontoon. The terminal will welcome 89 cruise liners into the town’s new dedicated pontoon across 2023 – a rise of over 25% on last year.