by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The first cruise ship back at Port Zante, the Celebrity Equinox, arrived at 7 a.m. this morning (Tuesday, September 14).
WINN contacted the St. Kitts Tourism Authority for comment on the return of cruise tourism to Port Zante and Minister of Tourism, Hon. Lindsay Grant had this to say.
“Today, Tuesday, September the 14th, 2021, I think is a signal moment and day for St. Kitts and Nevis in the cruise industry. We welcome that the Celebrity Equinox, the first ship to dock at Port Zante since about March of 2020. What that does for us is create an economic engine that wasn’t present in the economy for the last 18 months. We are able now to include the taxi driver, tour operators, the Amina craft vendors, the Black Rock Vendors, store owners at Port Zante and all who would be touched, either directly or indirectly, by the ship’s presence today. We are grateful that we begin today the phased approach to our cruise tourism, and hopefully, in the very near future, we can get back to our million passengers that we did in 2018 and again, in 2019.” share Minister Grant.
Port Zante has become a part of the travel bubble for passengers. Only fully vaccinated vendors and Taxi drivers will be able to participate in the bubble.
The craft vendors of the Amina Market and taxi drivers will be operating on rotation, based on the stipulations outlined by the tourism authority. The first is to start at 9 a.m. and the second rotation at 1 p.m.
How does cruise tourism look for the foreseeable future?
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a fluctuating global event with varying effects on the economies of countries.
Minister Grant shared that they are expecting 14 calls in November and more to come, with caution.
“For various brands, between the Costa and the Aida, we have scheduled 34 calls between now and April (2022). So it’s a steady reopening. We don’t expect to get back to our numbers that we had in 2018 and 2019. This is what we consider to be a work-in-progress, and we are happy that at least for the first time in 18 months, we can welcome a ship, the Celebrity Equinox, back into Port Zante,”
The Minister reported that the welcoming of the Celebrity Equinox and its passengers had gone smoothly so far.
“Everything thus far this morning has gone very smoothly. The is an upbeat [in attitude] at Port Zante in terms of the merchants and those who would facilitate passengers. Because as you could recognise, they have not had the opportunity within the last 18 months; so [it’s a breather] at Port Zante.
Port Zante, as you would recognise to persons who are not within the bubble, and is that also work-in-progress but that it went very, very smoothly. All the personnel from the task force, and Minister of Tourism, and the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, everyone is in place, and it’s going smoothly. I hope that at the end of the day, I can come back and report that we’ve had a day that went very smoothly and one that we can be proud of and that we can make sure that we welcome more ships into Port Zante,” concluded Minister Grant.