Tourism ministry to invest in cruise sector

Officials in the Ministry of Tourism were involved in a lively Q&A session at a meeting of the Antigua and Barbuda Cruise Association on Monday night.

Minister of Tourism Asot Michael has pledged to put a number of improvements in place at local tourist sites in anticipation of expected cruise industry growth.

Michael, speaking at a meeting of the Antigua & Barbuda Cruise Tourism Association (ABCTA) Monday evening said there would be immediate allocation of funds to construct restroom facilities at Horsford Hill, Devil’s Bridge and Shirley Heights, along with the reduction of restroom usage fees at Nelson’s Dockyard.

The minister also promised that repairs will be made to the access roads to top tourist sites such as Devil’s Bridge and Pigeon Point with added signage, beach security and lifeguards as appropriate.

The improvements will also take place in the St John’s area with the construction of entertainment facilities at Fort James, including restaurants, shops, and nightclubs; enhanced security presence on cruise ship days and repairs to the drains and boardwalk and the installation of required utilities for the tourism information booths.

In his address to the over 70 people in attendance, Michael cited “significant gains” to the cruise tourism sector over the last 18 months.

With an anticipated 408 cruise ships scheduled to visit Antigua & Barbuda in 2016, along with at least five inaugural calls this winter season, the tourism minister further urged the collective support of all cruise sector stakeholders.

Michael also took the opportunity to address members of the St John’s Taxi Association who had expressed concerns that they would be faced with unfair competition from other tour operators.

(More in today’s Daily Observer)