Cruise industry chiefs emphasised the “negative consequences” of fee increases for transporting passengers to port in a series of meetings with Caymanian tourism officials in Miami.
Carnival has already threatened to reduce its trips to Cayman and the Florida Caribbean Cruising Association warned that other operators would be considering following suit.
“We spoke about the burden this is going to place on Cayman and the cruise industry. It will be up to each individual line to analyse what the additional costs are going to be. That’s what we have indicated to the Government,” said Michelle Paige of the FCCA following two days of talks with a Cayman delegation including Tourism Minister Cline Glidden.
Cayman Marine Services, which operates about 16 tenders in the George Town harbour, has proposed a 75-cent price rise per passenger in three phases throughout 2013. The initial 25-cent increase started on 1 January.
The company was not involved in last week’s talks but has previously indicated it is open to compromise over the fee-increase.
Ms Paige said it would be up to the government to decide if it could influence Cayman Marine Services to waive the fare increase.
“That’s up to them. They are aware that it is going to have negative consequences.
“We are in business to make money. If this causes us to raise the price of a ticket that could be the negative fact to indicate whether a passenger will or won’t go on a cruise.”
She said cruise operators’ preference would be for a new berthing facility removing the need for tendering altogether.
The Ministry of Tourism said the possibility of a new cruise port was a key concern at the meetings.
“Industry partners expressed an interest in the cruise berthing facility, even with mentioning the possibility of being involved in the berthing project,” read a press statement from the ministry.
Plans for a new facility for cruise ships have been in the pipeline for some time. A deal with China Harbour Engineering Company was shelved for a proper procurement process to take place.
In the short term, the ministry has proposed improvements such as proper shading and benches at the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal, which it said were well received.
“Further discussions on enhancements focused on the Spotts Landing location. The sentiment expressed by the FCCA is that the Spotts Landing location requires improvements. However, it was unanimous from all those present that these enhancements need not involve major works.
“The enhancements discussed were some shading, bathroom facilities, provision of a safe walkway for cruise visitors, and minor enhancements to the tender pier to ensure the safety of cruise visitors,” the statement added.
Minister Glidden said he was pleased with how his first meeting with the FCCA, as minister of Tourism, had been received. He said his Ministry would continue the open communication with the FCCA, and cruise industry partners.
Minister Dwayne Seymour and Chief Officer Stran Bodden were also involved in the talks.