The Antigua and Barbuda government has welcomed the agreement reached with the Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines following the company’s earlier decision to cancel several scheduled calls to the island.
“We are extremely pleased to have come to an agreement with our very valued partner. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship that will bring even greater prosperity to our people,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne said following the latest rounds of talks in Miami over the last weekend.
In a joint statement issued in Miami late Monday night, Carnival Corporation said they are committed to continue their historic relationship with Antigua and Barbuda.
The statement noted that Antigua and Barbuda government representatives, having held discussions with the cruise line company “fully understand and acknowledge the misunderstanding of the past.
“Both parties expressed their desire to maintain the relationship that has been in place for the last 30 years,” the statement noted.
It quoted Tourism, Economic Development and Investment Minister, Charles Fernandez, who led the Antigua and Barbuda delegation to the talks as saying that the brands of Carnival Corporation have been partners with the island for many years contributing approximately US$48 million to the local economy over the past five years.
“Certainly we appreciate and respect their desire to provide a greater experience and value to their guest visiting Antigua,” he said, adding that the government has invested an estimated US$110 million in cruise facilities and other upgrades.
“Further upgrades to be invested will bring the total capital investment to over half a billion EC dollars (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents). This will create the basis for more cruise visitors as well as opportunities and added jobs for our people,” Fernandez said.
The statement noted that at the conclusion of the discussions, both parties “agreed to an arrangement that provides a foundation for Carnival to continue to operate in Antigua for many more years to come.
“While some calls were rescheduled, other calls that were being considered for cancellation will now as planned and both parties agreed to continue discussions on the possibility of having more summer calls.
“Further it was agreed that berth reservations and scheduling will be made directly with the government or an agent appointed by the government”.
But the leader of the main opposition United Progressive Party (UPP), Harold Lovell, said that the government needs to provide more answers to the population about the agreement reached.
“We need answers as to what has happened and we need to understand that in that said agreement …there is no mention of Global Ports Holdings,” he said, noting that in the concession agreement Global ports has the exclusive rights to deal with the cruise lines.
“So here we have an agreement coming out which speaks to the government that they (Carnival Cruise) will be dealing with the government or an agent appointed by the government. There is no mention at all of Global port,” Lovell said on Observer Radio here.
The government earlier this year, defended its decision to enter into a multi–million dollar agreement with the London-based Global Ports Holdings (GPH) for the development of the cruise port in the capital.
Prime Minister Browne said that the US$83 million agreement with GPH would change the landscape of the island.