President-elect of the Caribbean Hotel Association Berthia Parle has once again voiced her opinion on the fact that the Cruise sector must provide more to tourism in the Caribbean.
Ms. Parle aired her views on New York radio recently.
Speaking on WLIB`s Politics Live, Parle said the cruise sector is the only industry growing by leaps and bounds since September 11, 2001 while offering deeply discounted rates to voyagers. “The cruise lines have the economies of scale so they can use their buying power to secure food and beverage at substantially lower prices than the hotel sector can,” she said, while calling for some balance to the equation with the adoption of a US$20 per head cruise tax currently under consideration by Caribbean governments.
The levy is specifically to contribute towards a fund which the Caribbean needs for sustainable tourism development for the entire region. All stakeholders, including cruise lines and suppliers to cruise lines will benefit. The plan involves support for strengthening environmental, cultural and heritage aspects of our tourism; for dealing with matters of health and security, human resource development, and generally improving infrastructure and promotion of the region, sustaining last year`s historic efforts to market the Caribbean as single destination.
The matter of an additional $20 tax on cruise ships was a hot topic at the recent CTC-26 hosted in the USVI and organised by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation. Many Minister`s and Director`s of Tourism declined to share their opinion on the matter.
Parle continued, “We believe the cruises are a very important sector of tourism ... but a lot more needs to be done by the cruise industry to contribute to the sustainable development of Caribbean tourism and enable governments to create more employment for the people of the region,” Parle said, lamenting the embarrassingly low numbers of Caribbean employees on these mega ships
Parle, who runs Bay Gardens Hotel in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, wants Caribbean islands to stand united on the tax levy and resist the temptation to yield to aggressive cruise lobbyists .
“If we want to talk about Caribbean unity, we have to be able to address some of these things through a regional cruise committee so that the cruise lines cannot go and negotiate directly with the governments,” Parle said. “Governments must stop thinking about the next election and pandering to narrow tourism interests, but rather, understand the needs of hotel investors and wider stakeholders who continue to be marginalised by their actions.”
Parle said the Life Needs the Caribbean campaign had a profound impact for the 2002-2003 winter season in the majority of Caribbean islands. The cruise lines were supposed to partner with public and private sector players in the region to extend the marketing programme to Canada and Europe, “but as usual it`s only the hotel sector, other allied partners and governments who are contributing,” she complained.
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