A public spat between two leading industry figures broke out on Twitter yesterday over the impact cruise ship calls have on destinations.

Travel Counsellors founder and former chairman David Speakman clashed with Clia UK & Ireland deputy chairman Giles Hawke over the high volume of ships calling into Corfu on a single day.

Speakman described the arrival of 11,400 passengers into Corfu by seven ships in one day – including five owned by Carnival Corporation – as a “terrible experience”, “indefensible” and “tourism at its worst”.

He tweeted: “Carnival Corp own five of the ships with over 7,000 passengers disgorged. Surely they know this is not good planning and a bad experience for guests? Horrendous!”

And he argued that booking five “same owner” ships into the same port on a single day was “daft”.

“It trashes the product for marginal gain and its [sic] horrendous customer experience and that’s what it’s really about. Customer experience,” Speakman tweeted.

However, Hawke chief executive of Cosmos Tours, responded by asking how many planes arrive a day on the Greek island.

His tweet triggered a response from Speakman, who said: “Of course, but flight passengers stay and fill hotels. Cruises just overload the infrastructure with little benefit locally. But apart from the locals it’s a miserable experience for cruise customers.”

In reply, Hawke said: “Cruise passengers spend money ashore, cruise lines pay local landing taxes, cruise lines use local suppliers, taxi owners make money etc etc. Massive contributions to local economies.”

He added: “I’d say that the cruise line customer satisfaction scores and repeat business, plus the growing volumes of happy customers taking cruises should be the key measure of customer experience.”

But Speakman came back to say: “Giles, volumes don’t mean satisfaction”.

He also highlighted the Corfu airport website as showing 42 flights landing over 12 hours with around 200 passenger per flight, adding up to 8,400 people holidaying throughout Corfu.

“Cruise lines dumped 11,400 people equivalent of 57 flights within 2 hours into Corfu Town alone this morning,” Speakman added.

He described the situation as “chaos” for a small town with a population of 30,000 for a period and that most passengers “voted with their feet” and were back on board within a couple of hours.

Hawke tweeted: “Cruise lines review all guest surveys and react to anything negative directly with customers and in their future planning as they analyse feedback on each port of call. So if customers don’t like it, cruise lines listen, learn and react. 42 flights x 7 days is a better comparison?”

Speakman had the last word, describing the comparison as “irrelevant” to holidaymakers visiting Corfu for a week as cruise passengers are an extra influx.

He went on to describe it as a “terrible experience” and “indefensible!!!!”