New protocol at Cruise Ship Berth – Tourism Minister
March 8, 2013

New protocol at Cruise Ship Berth – Tourism Minister

New measures have been put in place at the Cruise Ship Berth to heighten tourism services and decrease the conflict tourists sometimes experience when hiring taxis.{{more}}

At a press conference on Monday, Cecil McKie, Minister of Tourism, Sports and Culture, said a meeting was held last week, at which emphasis was placed on being able to provide top quality service as it relates to tourism.

“We do not only want visitors to come on vacation to St Vincent and the Grenadines or simply because it is another stop by the cruise lines,” McKie said; “we want it to be an experience.”

The minister noted that various stakeholders, including the Port Authority and SVG Taxi Drivers Association, have recognized the importance of the industry and are working together in order to move forward.

According to McKie, the country expects to host 199 cruise calls this year, and as a result, a protocol has been established in order to have less chaos and confusion.

The tourism minister explained that a dispatcher, provided by the Taxi Drivers Association, will be available at reception and will be responsible for dispatching persons taking up taxis.

He also stated that 20 taxis will be on rotation, with allocated parking for smoother functioning.

“There will be no other competition for these taxis on rotation,” McKie said. “Only persons registered and members of the Association will be allowed to operate at the cruise ship terminal”.

McKie stressed this point, saying that it was very important for various reasons.

He explained that persons who currently operate at the terminal have been exposed to training put on by either the St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority (SVGTA) or the Ministry of Tourism.

Additionally, the Minister pointed out that standards and quality service will be called into question when persons not registered are allowed to take passengers, as they have not received adequate training.

Winston Morgan, vice president of the Taxi Drivers Association, spoke of measures which have been put in place for taxi drivers to better the tourism sector.

“Members also have comments sheets that are given to taxis on leaving the compound with their passengers,” he said. “These comment sheets not only indicate the experience the tourist had with the driver, but the experience with sites that they have been taken to”.

The vice president also called on the public to leave the parking outside of the terminal on the left clear for taxi drivers, for at least the first three hours of the morning, to help alleviate traffic issues.

Taxi licenses are also going to be given to members of the association.

“All those who are not a part of the Taxi Drivers Association, now have to try and come on board and meet the standards,” Morgan said. “We want visitors to have positive experiences here, so for future terms, they will come back”.

The Taxi Drivers Association presently has 80 members and will be screening their pending applications. Persons interested in becoming a part of the association are asked to contact any executive member of the association for an application form.

Additionally, McKie mentioned that training for persons to come on board will take place soon, especially since the largest cruise ship will bring 3,600 passengers to the shores of St Vincent.

As a result of the new protocol, a new route has been mapped out for persons travelling to the Grenadines on days when cruise ships are at the berth. McKie said the first two gates will be used for entry and exit to the ferries, so that persons travelling to the Grenadines will not come into conflict with taxi operators. (BK)