ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Antigua’s cruise tourism sector has received a grade “C” following a “fitness test” but the consultants are confident the country will reap greater cruise dollars if their recommendations are implemented.
High on the list is a multi-million dollar refurbishment and expansion of the state-owned commercial cruise facility, Heritage Quay, comprising duty-free shops and berths in the capital, St John’s.
The study, commissioned earlier this year by owners of Heritage Quay, was aimed at charting the way forward for the local cruise tourism industry amid increasing competition from emerging markets – including those in Asia.
The test, conducted by Miami-based Global Destinations Development between April and June, identified areas of weaknesses with the company attempting to create a programme for redevelopment and capital improvements, which it believes “will best support Antigua’s cruise business.”
Despite an overall grade of “fair” following the test, Antigua scored high in several areas – including head tax and port charges, which received an A+ due to its competitive pricing to cruise lines.
The Antigua Pier Group charges the tariffs, including a $5.18 per head tax, and the consultants “support current legislative initiatives” that would allow the group to “directly invoice and collect from cruise lines for the costs of calling at the country’s two piers, including that at Redcliffe Street.
The study recommends “a revamping/redevelopment of both Heritage Quay and Redcliffe Quay, to include a new unified transportation hub” serving both shopping centres and piers.
Meantime, cruise industry players such as taxi and bus operators have much work to do having been graded “D+” due to congestion, harassment and lack of a well-planned transportation centre.”
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)