Port Authority re-joins cruise ship association


Five years after withdrawing from a trade group promoting cruise ships on the Great Lakes, the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority has signed back on in partnership with the Greater Toledo Convention and Visitors' Bureau.

Paul Toth, the port authority's president and chief executive, told his agency's board of directors today that splitting the $3,650 annual membership fee for the Great Lakes Cruising Coalition with the convention bureau was appropriate because setting up local itineraries for visiting cruise-ship passengers would logically be a convention-bureau function, not something the port authority would do.

"It's a great fit for the CVB," Mr. Toth said, noting that European tourists are a prime market for Great Lakes cruising, and right now there is great interest in that market for War of 1812 historical sites like Fort Meigs.

After contributing $40,000 to $50,000 over the previous decade, the port authority let its Great Lakes Cruising Coalition membership lapse in 2008 as part of broader budget cuts, Mr. Toth recounted.

"In 2008, the economy was in the pits and there weren't any cruise ships in the Great Lakes, so we made a conscious decision to withdraw," he said.

But earlier this year, the cruising coalition reported that as many as five vessel operators were working on Great Lakes itineraries, and at that time, Toledo was missing out on potential ship calls because of the port authority's focus on cargo traffic.

No action by port authority directors was required to approve the roughly $1,850 expense for rejoining the coalition.