FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16:  The City of Hamilton has backed the widening of the entrance into Hamilton Harbour so bigger ships can dock in the city.

Mayor Charles Gosling said the city needed the economic boost that more cruise ship visitors and overseas dollars would provide.

He was speaking after a report on improving access to St George through the narrow Town Cut passage was presented by Government to the Corporation of St George.

Mr Gosling said: “I haven’t seen the presentation, but our technical officers have. But we certainly need more cruise ship visitors in Hamilton and I’m certainly open to having the discussion.”

Stephen Todd, president of the Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, said businesses in both St George and Hamilton badly needed the extra income, which more visitors would generate.

But he added that the environmental impact of any major works to improve access to anchorages would have to be carefully examined.

Mr Todd said: “We would like to see the detail of any reports on the widening of these channels and the effects it would have on things like storm surge. We’re a low-lying island and we wouldn’t want to solve one problem and open up another one.

“But we’re very keen to see the issue of cruise ships addressed, the loss of cruise ship business in the East End and in the country as a whole and the effect that has on the stability and growth of business in both areas.

“We’d like to see commerce and entrepreneurship stimulated in both places and help existing businesses which may be suffering because of a lack of footfall and sales.”

New OBA leader Craig Cannonier said: “We haven’t discussed either of these issues, but they will be on the agenda for us.

“We will be looking for more information. Certainly, we need to be moving forward. Two Rock Passage has been the entrance to Hamilton Harbour since 1896.  But, as cruise ships have become bigger, the number of vessels that can negotiate the narrow channel into the city has declined.

The only regular visitor is the mid-sized Holland America Lines’ Veendam, which entered service in 1996.

The report on Town Cut examined the potential cost and impact of widening the narrow entrance to St George, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Government officials are to meet Corporation of St George members to discuss the report.

The Veendam has also been the only regular visitor to St George in the last two years, but has to berth at Murray’s Anchorage and ferry passengers to the Old Town because it is too big to safely navigate Town Cut. HAL has already announced the ship will be bypassing St George in favour of Hamilton in 2012 because it will be better for passengers.