June 2, 2017

Gonsalves proposes using residence as tour site

This year, St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is expecting approximately 300,000 cruise passengers, up from around 180,000 last year.

With these numbers on the rise and with the potential for even more growth, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves is urging persons in the tourism sector to up their game and provide the best services and products possible.

“We have this season ahead of us to show our colours, as we say in our folk song, we hadda show we motion,” the PM commented on Wednesday, during a meeting at the Argyle International Airport’s (AIA) VIP lounge, where he was meeting with several top players in the cruise industry.

Present at the meeting were president of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Michele Paige, director of Ports of Call and Government Relations Carnival Cruise Line Leon Sutcliffe, associate-vice president Government Relations for Royal Caribbean International Frederico Gonzalez-Denton, and executive director, Marine and Port Operations, Port Developments and Itinerary Planning for Disney Cruise Lines Russell Daya.

Gonsalves’ comments came on the heels of a combined suggestion by these top players that SVG must show what sets it apart from the other islands, if it wants to attract Carnival and Disney cruise lines to these shores.

“We have been pushing the development of the service sector, including tourism… cruise tourism is one of them,” said the PM, who noted that the visiting delegation was extremely impressed by the AIA.

He added that the group has called for uniqueness, so he has several ideas to answer that call and some of these ideas have been suggested to CEO of Coreas Hazells Limited Joel Providence.

Coreas Hazells Limited organizes tours for cruise passengers.

“I told the team that last year I was discussing with Joel, and I suggested the official residence of the PM as the locale for a tour, as there is a lot of history in that residence. It is beautiful place and I would expect it to be a high-end tour and I don’t mind leaving my office for half an hour to come by and say hi and take pictures and welcome people,” said the Prime Minister.

He added that the tour should include great food and beverages.

On December 2, Royal Caribbean’s “Celebrity Summit” will be coming to these shores and the PM has promised to conduct one of the tours offered by Coreas Hazells Inc’s cruise department.

“I promise that on December 2nd, when the big cruise ship comes for the first time, I would take a tour with them to the tunnels in the northeast of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“I will join the tour bus from Kingstown and explain the tour and give history of several points along the way. I would do this free of cost,” said the PM.

He said that when the ship visits, he wants Vincentians to push their products and services, while he noted that the Government is available to provide start-up resources for persons in the tourism industry.

He noted also that dredging will soon take place at the cruise ship pier to accommodate bigger ships.