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Grenada aims to reverse significant decline in cruise visitors

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ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada – Authorities are proposing to team up with the private sector to boost investment in the tourism industry to reverse a significant fall off in cruise visitors – estimated at more than 20 per cent between this and last season.

The recommendation for a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) was agreed to last week, Tourism Minister Peter David said, following a meeting with the regional cruise task force and comes as more ships divert from the Caribbean to Europe.

He said the PPP could involve a consortium of private sector companies or cruise lines to develop the country’s offerings to visitors.

“We have decided to choose five or six major assets that we have, develop the plan for these assets and try to work out a partnership with the private sector because the fact is that government just will not have sufficient resources available,” David said in an interview with a local internet radio station Sunday.

“If the private sector is willing to work with us, we are willing to work out a Public Private Partnership, not only with the local investors but also with the cruise lines. We approached the cruise lines and we said to them we want them to come and invest, we want them to put some resources into some of these sites.”

The proposal is expected to be rolled out in the coming weeks, and could coincide with a visit from Royal Caribbean Cruise Line executives who have been invited to travel to the country next month.

Officials revealed that Princess Cruise Lines, which has a more than 3000 passenger capacity, intends to cut its calls to the Sister Isle for the 2011/2012 period by more than a half from the 51 calls during the 2010/2011 season.

The replacements are small European ships with less capacity, Director of Tourism Simon Steill stated, while noting out that this cruise ship migration is affecting most Caribbean states.

“This migration isn’t just affecting Grenada, its affecting the southern Caribbean. Grenada being the most southern of the Windward Islands, we are seeing it worst. The additional gas, fuel that they need to burn to get to us is greater,” he said.

“What they are saying to us is that we need to constantly reinvent ourselves, that we need to keep the product fresh.”

An initiative was agreed to last month, the tourism director said, that offers an alternative cruise itinerary.

“The project is called One Ticket Eight Destinations. It’s a Letter of Intent signed between Venezuela, Columbia, Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Trinidad and ourselves. The idea is to create a new cruise itinerary – southern Caribbean South American,” he stated.

“This is an initiative that has just been kicked off. We have 12 months to work on the details of that plan. It is cruise, it’s about a passenger ferry service, it’s about air hopping between those destinations, and it’s about cargo between those destinations.”

In 1999, Carnival Cruise Line ceased calling at Port St. George’s over an US$1.50 Environmental Levy levied on each per passenger to help meet the cost of solid waste management and disposal from their operations.

At that time, Carnival accounted for around half of the cruise passengers to the country.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.