Taxi driver boycott of cruise ships a sign of the times

In Victoria, B.C. Alaska cruise season has just begun but Victoria taxi companies did not exactly roll out the welcome mat for recently all-inclusive Crystal Symphony earlier this week. Seeking a reduction in the annual charge they pay to service the cruise lines, taxi drivers boycotted the ship, refusing to pick up passengers.

The Greater Victoria Taxi Association is at odds with the port authority over the $200 per cab annual fee and wants it reduced. The port authority says the fee is reasonable, every transportation company pays it and that collected fees go towards safety improvements. The taxi association says business is down and fewer ships coming this year means less income for them.

In a recovering, adjusting worldwide economy, things are changing from cruise lines re-deploying ships as demand changes right down on street-level and the taxi cab companies that service cruise ships.

While the $200 annual fee may seem reasonable, cab companies may be going after a reduction to make up for lost income elsewhere.

“In most markets, the average spending per passenger is probably down five to 10 per cent … from pre-recession levels. The recession has had the impact of reducing aggregate spending by cruise passengers” Andrew Moody, president of Pennsylvania-based Business Research and Economic Advisors (BREA) told the Vancouver Sun.

Earlier this month, taxi drivers in Thailand blocked two busloads of passengers from Silversea’s Silver Spirit. Headed out for tours from the Phuket deep sea port, four hours passed before taxi drivers agreed on a 50/50 split between taxi and bus transportation.

This ongoing dispute here finds it’s root with government officials who have failed to find a solution. In an effort to avoid confrontation, high fares and almost no regulation have taken control.

Regardless of the reason, having a cab available to pick up passengers has always been something taken for granted. Passengers get off the ship. Cabs are waiting. Off they go.

Cruise lines have a lot of different elements that go into creating a good travel experience for passengers. Some they have control over, others not so much. It will be interesting to see how other economic factors affect the cruise experience as we watch the cruise industry mature.

Flickr photo by Guwashi999

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