From time to time I watch the cruise ship tenders going back and forth transporting people and, in many cases, some of them have to wait in line for their turn to the dock. This tells me that we have some of the poorest cruise ship facilities in the entire Caribbean.
Places like St. Lucia, Grenada, St. Martin, the Virgin Islands and Cozumel have first-class berthing facilities and even the Turks and Caicos Islands are having a cruise ship dock built at this particular time. And we, as the world’s fifth largest financial centre, are still using tenders. This is a shame and disgrace on us and I presume that we have no one to blame but the past several governments, although it is my understanding that the UDP Government had plans to put in a berthing facility.
Studies have shown that the cruise ship visitors spend 50 to 75 per cent more money at islands where they have good berthing facilities and it is said that many of the elderly people never leave the ship if they have to use tenders.
I believe that the last government had intentions to do berthing facilities. This is a must to enable us to satisfy the cruise ship industry, and we must not forget that we have serious competition from other destinations, especially if Cuba should ever open up.
It is believe that berthing facilities could be extended from the Royal Watler Pier to accommodate a maximum of four large cruise ships which is the number that we get on many days. Whenever there are more than four, then unfortunately the others would have to use tenders.
I have the confidence that the present government will address this much needed facility in the very near future.
Norberg K. Thompson