While he describes the off-season as “painful”, the man at the helm of the country’s tourism sector says he is optimistic that the 2012/13 cruise ship season will be fruitful.
The season officially opens today (Monday) although the first cruise ship will arrive in two weeks.
Ian Douglas said in an interview with the media that government is working towards ensuring that cruise ships come to Dominica year round.
“Cruise tourism is a major part of the industry because it employs many grass roots people. So many people depend on the industry to survive. It has always excited me when the season begins. It is my vision to have an all round season. I want us to get to the point where we can expect a ship a day,” he said.
However, Douglas noted that he is very concerned about the challenge and the threat posed by the private bus drivers who “do not want to join the organized tour system”.
He said private operators sell the same tour the boat has organized, for 10 percent cheaper.
“That undercuts the ship. That jeopardizes the ability of the cruise line to generate revenue in the destination. They balance revenue against fuel cost and that’s how the planners decide which ports they will call at. We want to discourage that kind of activity,” he explained.
Douglas is currently attending the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association’s (FCCA), annual trade show in Curacao, which begins today.
He said while there, he would seek to increase calls to Dominica by having new cruise ships on the itinerary. “We want to encourage those like Disney and others who do not come to our ports,” he said.
According to Douglas, one of his major tasks is to convince Carnival Cruise lines to return to Dominica,
That cruise line ended its 21 year relationship with Dominica in 2010, citing the increase in fuel prices as the main reason. It is expected to make one call to Dominica during the new season.
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