October 26, 2007

New cruise ship season begins today


While calls have been made to the Grenadines during the last two weeks, the 2007/08 cruise ship season begins in earnest today, Friday, October 26.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ leading cruise ship operator Coreas Shipping and Tours states that the new season should equally bring positive developments as well as some new challenges.{{more}}

It is anticipated that close to 140, 000 passengers shall be visiting our shores during 2007/08, a marginal decline when compared with last year. This is largely due to the redeployment of the vessels Blue Moon and Holiday Dream from Kingstown to Grenada. During the last winter season, the Blue Moon vessel (a Spanish-owned ship) made weekly calls to Kingstown and brought in total over 35,000 passengers.

156 calls to St. Vincent and the Grenadines are expected this upcoming season.

This season, Kingstown shall welcome for the first time Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines – beginning with the Legend of the Seas on December 12, and continuing with Empress of the Seas for a further nine calls into the next year.

A release from Corea & Co Ltd said, “The continued development of the cruise industry may be negatively impacted by the implementation of the value added tax. The introduction of the VAT earlier this year should result in an increase of the price to conduct tours to the various sites of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Several cruise line executives have already stated their concerns about the implementation of this tax and the likely reduction in cruise ship calls that will follow”.

A senior management official from Coreas indicated that the Company would like to see more Vincentians acquiring tour buses and also becoming trained tour guides. It is in these two areas where the country’s capacity is most seriously challenged. He further went on to indicate that the development of the main tour sites by the Government through European Union funds, is certainly welcome, as there has been evidence of deterioration at these sites in recent years.

Vincentians are urged to extend their hospitality to the country’s guests as its stakeholders seek to develop an industry which offers great potential.