After four months of “intense lobbying” with international cruise partners, Premier Andrew Fahie’s administration secured commitments to bring more than 64,000 additional cruise ship passengers into the territory for the 2019-2020 season, Mr. Fahie said in a July 31 statement in House of Assembly.
He added that this influx could bring an estimated $5 million in potential revenue for taxi operators, food vendors, souvenir shops, entertainers and tour operators.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, he said, has added an additional seven calls to the Virgin Islands, bringing the total number from 32 to 39.
This will bring 14,022 passengers and approximately $1.1 million in potential earnings to VI service providers, he said.
Mr. Fahie had previously said in a June 3 HOA meeting that Norwegian Cruise Lines had projected a shortfall of 180,000 passengers for the upcoming cruise tourism season, and accused the previous administration of hiding this from the territory.
However, he said his government’s “intervention” had reduced that shortfall to 50,000 passengers by bringing 12 additional calls and $3.9 million in potential passenger spending from NCL to the VI.
He added that the Carnival Sunrise also made its first call to the territory in June, bringing 3,900 guests and 1,100 crew.
Tortola Pier Park Ltd and the BVI Tourist Board used this visit as an opportunity to launch the Carrot Bay Cultural Village, a new tourist experience that includes food sampling and storytelling.
After Mr. Fahie slammed the previous National Democratic Party for not doing enough to sustain the cruise industry, Fourth District Representative Mark Vanterpool, the former communications and works minister under the NDP, rose to make a point of information.
He denied that the NDP administration hid a potential passenger shortfall from the public, and said that the government at the time had entered into negotiations with NCL after the expressed intentions to reduce passengers.
Mr. Fahie maintained that the “shortfall was not dealt with.”
Speaker of the House Julian Willock interrupted to ask both members to refrain from debating the premier’s statement, and to instead bring evidence to support their claims to the next HOA sitting.