Antigua’s cruise industry wants to emulate St. MaartenPOSTED: 09/28/12 12:35 PM
By Kyle Christian- Observer Media
ST. JOHN’S ANTIGUA- At the urging of cruise ship operators, Antigua & Barbuda will emulate the very “successful destination” St Maarten in an effort to improve its own cruise tourism product.
President of the Antigua & Barbuda Cruise Tourism Association Nathan Dundas said cruise lines have encouraged the country to exemplify the fellow Caribbean nation.
“We are happy to announce that we will be getting the former minister of tourism of St Maarten, Theo Heyliger, who will be arriving here in Antigua,” he said. Heyliger will be speaking at a breakfast forum on October 11.
“He is going to be speaking about the success that St Maarten was able to achieve in terms of its cruise tourism product,” Dundas added. “There are areas that we can benefit from and we are looking forward to that discussion.”
The cruise association head said various stakeholders, including the hotels and cruise association members, among others, are invited as well as “all others who are interested in ensuring that we can try to improve our tourism product.”
The news comes a day after concerns were issued about the percentage of passengers debarking docked ships.
The Cruise Destination Fitness Test, prepared by Global Destinations Development for St John’s Development Corporation (SJDC), stated that only 40 to 60 per cent of passengers bother to leave the ship.
Dundas, however, disputed those numbers saying that data from the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) indicated that closer to 85 to 90 per cent of passengers debarked.
The cruise association president said however, that every destination should still strive to maximize revenues from cruise passengers. In that effort he said there are things that the country can start on right now.
“For example, the cleanliness of the city. We need to ensure that we are keeping the city of St John’s clean because that’s one of the first impressions that passengers get when they get off the ship,” he said.
He spoke of the open drains on the sidewalks of the city, as well as litter on beaches as issues that need to be addressed.
“Those are the things that we need to fix first before the big things, which we of course have to do.”