Antigua & Barbuda to develop Rat Island for cruise port extension

Rat Island

Neighboring island Antigua and Barbuda is set to expand its capacity in the cruise and yachting sector by developing the north side of Rat Island as an extension of the cruise port.

The government there has decided to invest in the project, which is expected to facilitate the berthing of yachts and small cruise ships, as well as boost the local economy by allowing taxi operators, restaurant owners, and other entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

The government’s plan to repurpose the capital city, St John, aligns with this project.

The investment is expected to increase attractiveness for both locals and visitors and enhance the value of idle land.

Although the project’s cost has not yet been determined, the government is confident that the return on investment will justify the expenditure.

When questioned about funding, Information Minister Melford Nicholas did not provide a direct answer, though he stated that the government wants to spur economic activity and create incentives to attract investment.

He also noted that once the area becomes more economically viable, the government is willing to support by providing access to amenities to facilitate a hub for dining and entertainment. In addition to this project, the government plans to dredge waters in Crabbs and the northern corridor to allow larger vessels to bring cement to Antigua to meet the growing demands of the construction sector.

Due to the demand, the current vessels’ capacity is only a day’s worth.

The dredging is expected to be completed in 120 days.

The stalled Fort James project, which had been carried out by Royal Caribbean Limited (RCL), is also up for review.

Nicholas noted that regardless of what takes place, Fort James remains an “important nexus” for Antigua and Barbuda “to extract the maximum benefit from cruise tourism.”

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  1. Roger Burnett
    March 24, 2024

    As a proponent of retaining original place names, I hope the Antigua and Barbuda Government will retain the name the island has been known by since the 18th century.

    Those interested in the history of Rat Island – which over the years has served as a fort, leper colony, lunatic asylum, signal station and rum distillery – will find the following link helpful:

  2. Ibo France
    March 24, 2024

    No studies nor research has been done as to the financial and environmental cost of this project. It is folly to put all your eggs in one basket especially a fickle industry as tourism.

    With tourism as the mainstay of the economy, any adverse publicity, outbreak of pandemic or endemic disease, recession in your main market source, your entire economy will be severely disrupted.

    In these small islands, only about 10 cents of every dollar gained from tourism circulates in the country. Let’s try agriculture, fishing, manufacturing industries; the sporting, health and technological sectors, etc .

    This ill-advised project is seriously detrimental to the fishing industry and would do irreparable damage to the marine environment.

    If you think the natural ocean isn’t important to us, just imagine Earth without it.

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