MIAMI, FL (2002)—Caribbean travel and tourism official, Air Jamaica`s Allen Chastanet agrees with a Caribbean business association that cruise lines have sailed the region`s seas for too long without paying their dues.
In a recently published story, Gary Voss, president of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Association of Industry and Commerce exhorts Caribbean islands to charge cruise ship tourists a standard admission fee of US$20 per head, per island, a figure which is comparable to the departure tax paid by stay-over visitors.
“At last I have some company in this cruise ship debate,” said Chastanet, one of the few industry professionals who has called on regional governments to seek ways to maximise revenues from the highly profitable cruise industry.
Chastanet noted that following the events of September 11, the region has become more appealing to cruise liners who are redeploying their vessels to the warm and pristine Caribbean. “What disturbs me is that to date there has been neither a successful collective approach to negotiating with the cruise lines nor any serious lobby within the region to address issues such as environmental pollution for which liners have already plead guilty and paid criminal penalties,” he said.
Chastanet, the Caribbean Hotel Association`s 2002 “Allied Member of the Year” and Air Jamaica`s Vice President of Marketing and Sales, said that neither the availability of jobs for Caribbean nationals aboard the liners nor the amount of regional products used or offered for sale on board has kept pace with the phenomenal growth the industry has experienced. “Given the tough economic times, we have to look for ways to get the cruise industry to make a positive contribution to our economic development.”
Last December`s CARICOM Heads of Government Tourism Summit called for the establishment of a committee to encourage the cruise sector to participate in a collective regional marketing campaign. Both these talks and bilateral discussions with the sector have failed. “Only through a unilateral and regulatory arrangement will we be able to maximise the benefits of this sector,” Chastanet added.
Chastanet also is an architect of the Caribbean marketing initiative dubbed “Life Needs the Caribbean,” which began airing on North American television networks this week. The program is administered by the CHA Charitable Trust. The program is yet to receive the support of the cruise industry.