Antigua and Barbuda is bullish on its cruise sector.
Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Minister Asot Michael says he is “very encouraged” about the future of the country’s cruise sector, following a visit to cruise line offices in South Florida.
Last week, Michael engaged in discussions and gave presentations to executives from lines including Carnival, Royal Caribbean, NCL, MSC, Holland America, Seaborn and Princess Cruises.
The Minister and his team also received feedback from the Operations Committee of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association.
“The cruise executives and itinerary planners were impressed with our vision for improving how Antigua will be welcoming their ships and passengers, and their feedback has helped us to better understand their specific needs for achieving sustainable growth,” Michael said.
“I am confident that we have developed the right masterplan, and it is now up to our Government to identify additional financing to complete what we started last year when we successfully implemented critically needed marine improvements at St. John’s Harbour and the Heritage Pier,” he said.
Michael reported that cruise industry leaders were impressed with the fact that, while the Antiguan cruise-sector master plan had already made significant implementation progress, the minister and his team were still open to feedback and suggestions for improvement.
He said the cruise decision-makers were particularly interested in the possibility of creating a new beach-focused, outer-island style of cruise destination on the sister island of Barbuda– designed to deliver an authentic Eastern Caribbean cruise itinerary.
Michael was accompanied at his cruise industry meetings by his cruise-sector advisor, Ricky Skerritt, Tourism Authority Board member Nathan Dundas, Antigua & Barbuda Port Authority CEO Darwin Telemaque and representatives of the BEA-Meridian design and construction team who are responsible for designing and constructing the plan.
In 2016, the Antigua & Barbuda Government commenced an ambitious cruise facilities and downtown development program.
To date, $50 million has already been spent on the harbor and lengthening and strengthening the Heritage Pier to allow for the berthing of larger ships.
— Dana Niland, CJ Contributor