Below is the letter from President of the FCCA Michelle Paige to Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
On behalf of the FCCA Member Lines, we thank the Government of Antigua for its long-standing partnership with the cruise industry, and we praise the initiative to secure new pier works that will accommodate larger ships and product enhancements to improve the passenger experience, along with establishing a long-term maintenance strategy – all of which we strongly support
However, we must bring your attention to how this will affect your partner and customer: the
The industry takes great pride in that economic contribution, and new pier works and enhanced products could indeed put Antigua & Barbuda in a strong position to lift with the cruise industry’s rising tide
Unfortunately, as structured, the agreement for the works would likely severely lower that ceiling, and even jeopardize current levels, by pricing out numerous cruise lines. In fact, the Variable Concession Fee and Cruise Passenger Charge alone—being awarded directly to the Government—are more than all port charges in most Caribbean ports, and that excludes the Port Charges going to the Company, which will also likely increase, including a Security Fee to be implemented in 2020
We hope you regard our partnership with the same respect we do, and simply did not realize
There are certainly opportunities to increase that spending with a project like this, especially as guests’ interest in memorable and engaging experiences continues to grow, which is why it is also surprising that the agreement appears fixed on items like duty-free shopping—which has lost favor with consumer sentiment—and awards tax exemptions and other profit allowances for the retail and rent components, along with numerous other exemptions and incentives, for the Company, even at the possible detriment of cruise tourism
Please also keep in mind that the cruise lines know their guests the best and would be ready, willing and able to provide feedback directly with the Government and/or Company in order to best develop something that fully optimizes cruise tourism and its potential economic benefits