GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands, CMC – The small Caribbean island of Anguilla says it will continue to frown on cruise tourism even as the British Overseas Territory rebuilds its tourism sector after the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Tourism officials say that the revenue generated from cruise tourism is not worth the environmental impact.
“Well, it’s a given, it’s not even debatable that cruise does have a negative impact on the overall environment,” Minister of Tourism Haydn Hughes told the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s (CTO) “Destination Media Briefing”, marking the opening day of activities for the CTO Business Meetings and Caribbean Aviation Day Event, which ends on September 15.
“You have to weigh what you would benefit out of a cruise and what will be the drawbacks,” he said.
Hughes told reporters that cruise is not good for Anguilla, which is positioning itself “in a particular sphere where you want to have the high end …which actually brings a lot more revenue to a destination than cruise persons.”
The tourism minister said that St Thomas and St Maarten, the Caribbean destinations in which cruise passengers spend the most, the average expenditure is US$172 per passenger.
“… but when you are in a destination that does not have any all-inclusive you know that when persons come to Anguilla, the wealth is spread across the spectrum, significantly,” he said.
“Everybody in Anguilla benefits from the sector. And the average daily rate is not $200 a night. In some instances, especially in the festive season, you can have villas and some of the hotels that can command $25,000 a night for a room, with 20 per cent tax. So that is significant.
“And those persons dine around, they go to the different restaurants and use all of the services in Anguilla. And it’s a destination where wherever you see on television, whoever you see in the NFL in the NBA, you see them on the streets of Anguilla enjoying Anguilla, just like everybody else and that is where you want to position yourself.”
Hughes said that bringing 100,000 passengers to Anguilla on cruises would “somewhat waters down the product.
“And that is what we want to protect; we want to protect the integrity of the product and ensure that Anguillan people are the biggest beneficiaries of the tourism sector,” he added.
Meanwhile, Anguilla has been able to attract a number of international airlines but says it does not provide minimum revenue guarantees for seats into the territory.
Hughes said that during the COVID-19 pandemic, it was mostly celebrities who were travelling to Anguilla and that improvements in public infrastructure, including the airport, have made the destination more attractive.