St. John’s Antigua- President of the Antigua & Barbuda Tour Operators Association Patrick Ryan is not pleased with the cruise ship from the AIDA Cruise Line that is operating a mountain biking tour in the island with no local involvement.
President of the Cruise Tourism Association Nathan Dundas earlier this week said the tour operated by the AIDA cruise line was not a concern to his association.
But Ryan disagrees and wants it stopped.
“We had been frowning on it for some time but we had not made an official complaint, but now that it is being raised we would really like to object to it,” Ryan said.
“We think it is wrong we can’t go into anybody else’s country and operate a business which is what they are doing and they are cutting out the local businessmen that could do something similar,” Ryan said.
The tour operators’ association president also raised concerns over whether the tour has met insurance requirements.
“I have a concern as to how anybody could just walk off a cruise ship with 50 bikes…I’m concerned about the insurance. What happens if they have an accident with a local vehicle?” Ryan said.
He argued that a bad precedent was being set that could have damaging consequences for the economy here.
“What is there to stop them from then doing a walking tour through town and a historical walking tour through town? … Once you start that precedent then things start,” Ryan said.
“These guys provide nothing, no social security, no medical benefits they don’t put a thing in the country here … they have their own tour guides, they walk with their own water and they don’t buy a thing in the country. And I really think it is wrong and I think it’s time we stop it and that any tours operating in Antigua should be local operators,” Ryan said.
The local businessman said that despite cruise lines having significant bargaining power because of their wide choice of destinations, it was important to take a strong stand on the issue.
“We must make a stand at some point. If that’s what they are going to do, what’s to stop them from dropping their own boat tour in the water and carrying out their own boat tours next year? It’s the same principle … what’s to stop them from brining 50 ATVs next month?” Ryan said.