FCCA President Writes To PM (Full Letter)

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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 cruise  lines  that  were  responsible  for  generating  $77.7  million  in  direct  expenditures, in addition to 1,466 jobs paying wages of $14.4 million, in Antigua & Barbuda during the 2017-2018 cruise year.

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.

Though we certainly endorse the Government’s aim to secure its long-term economic future, we urge you to consider the implications these exorbitant increases could have on that outlook. Even in the short-term picture, the costs in 2019 and 2020 already would greatly impact cruise lines – not only because those costs would cause many lines to reevaluate their itinerary planning decisions moving forward, but also because many of the cruise calls within that window have already been confirmed and sold at the past prices, which would likely lead to a loss for cruise lines, your partner.

We hope you regard our partnership with the same respect we do, and simply did not realize the  implications  of  the  increases.

 After  all,  cruise tourism’s  true  positive  impact  in destinations comes by our guests experiencing and spending money in the destination – and if Antigua & Barbuda were to have passenger spending perform at the 2018 BREA study overall average, that would have added $18.5 million in direct expenditures.

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.

We look forward to working with you and charting the course for mutual success.

15 COMMENTS

  1. This is certainly way above the level of my pay grade and calls for immediate dialogue between all parties. I am never gonna comment on the Global Port Holding agreement because I do not know enough about it to make an informed decision. Having read the letter from the President of the FCCA to the PM, it is clear that the FCCA has major cost concerns and if these concerns are not addressed, it could spell disaster for our cruise tourism product. I hope that cool heads will prevail and all this will lead to much needed discussion and consultation going forward. One thing that is clear to me from all this that there was inadequate consultation all around. The FCCA and others might have been inadvertently left out of the initial discussions which have now brought us to this situation.

  2. Hostage taker’s are it again. I hope Antigua and Barbuda government will not subject themselves to the blackmailing. There is no Caribbean Island that the FCCA made any significant contribution to the islands infrastructure. It’s high time somebody stand up these taker’s.

    • It’s not the job of any company or business to enhance a country’s infrastructure. That is the job of the government who collects YOUR taxes at every opportunity they get. Get it straight.

  3. Mout open tory jump out

    How dem say a de protests wha mek carnival leave, now the FCCA saying is GPH mou which prices Antigua out of the cruise business

    Will the real choir singer stand up and tell us the truth?

  4. To divide and rule is there only plan. And that strategy has worked for many ages. The Caribbean has seen time and time again that they are at the mercy of the USA and Europe in everything they do. Whether it is Offshore Banking, Offshore Gaming, Tourism, Banking, Banana Trade, CIP. Just name it we are at the mercy of these countries. If they say jump, we just have to jump. Forget about being an independent state. That doesn’t mean a thing. They have all the power in their hand to demand whatever it is from us. Whether fair or not. So what do we do. Well I really do not have the answers. The lady has really not make her case why she would withdraw the ships before even having negotiations as to any new fees or rates. She praises our effort for making the investment that will allow the bigger ships to birth here, but all that investment should not lead to higher port taxes or any higher rates. That is very one sided if you ask me. We make all the necessary investment so that they can bring their ships here and all we need to be happy with is the fact that they bring their customers to our shores and that these customers will spend monies in our economies. Anything else is taboo. Off the table. Well let us buy our own cruise ships and make our own investment, and get the customers from their countries ourselves and bring them to our beautiful Islands. I mean who said life has to be fair or just for that matter. just take it as it comes and do not try the change the things you cannot control.

    • What you said may be true but WHO gave them that power and continues to empower them through ridiculous negotiations and agreements that only allow for us crumbs that fall by the wayside?
      Have you SEEN the MOA for the GPH? IF SO, WHO’S TO GAIN AGAiN?
      DOES IT, beside a beautiful waterfront, GUARANTEE JOB SECURITY, IMPROVED LIFESTYLE FOR US, THR LOCAL STAKEHOLDERS , ETC, ETC?
      READ THE MOU AND MOA AGAINAND TELL ME WHAT IN THERE FOR ALL OF US AND NOT JUST A FEW

      REMEMBER, GPH ONLY MANAGES PORTS. THEY CAN’T DEMAND/FORCE CRUISE LINES TO USE THEIR PORTS WITHOUT COMPLETE MONOPOLY. DO HEY HAVE THAT IN THE CARIBBEAN? HELL, NO!. Lines have options.
      So, if FCCA and all the other lines decide that Antigua and the other GPH ports can be left out of their cruises, what’s left for us!? NOTHING BUT BEAUTY, IN MY VIEW.
      REMEMBER, BASED ON THE MOU, WHETHER OR NOT THEY UTILIZED OR ABANDONED …, THE GOVERNMENT HAS NO SAY BEFORE 30-40 YEARS ABOUT THAT PROJECT!!.
      PRAY THAT IN THAT PROPOSED MEETING NEXT WEEK, , THE PRIME MINISTER CAN PERSUADE THEM NOT TO PULL OUT AND GET GPH TO AGRREE TO THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS THEY WOULD HAVE TO PROMISE THEM.
      POOR, POOR PEOPLE WHO WILL BE THE ONLY ONES TO SUFFER.

  5. So, what was that about Carnival Cruises pulling out as a result of a protest march in St. John’s? This letter seems to be calling
    B—-S—- on that poor excuse by the government.

  6. “We will continue to stand firm and fight for economic justice, even in the face of the tyrannical interventions of the powerful. We want a sustaining profitable partnership for the empowerment of our people; not an exploitative, extractive cruise industry for the benefit of the few.”

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