Plans for a new cruise policy for Dominica are underway, Tourism Minister, Robert Tonge has announced.
In his Parliament presentation on the 2016/2017 budget debate, on Thursday, Tonge stated that the government is in the final stages of hiring a cruise consultant with whom they will collaborate, to ensure that “the way forward for cruise is going to be in the best interest of the country.”
He revealed that although officials have liaised with cruise executives, Dominicans must work together to ensure the success of suggested initiatives.
“We’ve been speaking with all the cruise executives, including those of the Florida cruise association. And, based on these things that we’ve been doing over the last couple of years, based on what we are going to put in place, they are very excited about those thing,” Tonge explained. “But, the important thing [is] that we as a community, we as a people, we must work together to get that done.”
Tonge went on to say that “some persons will be impacted negatively, but we cannot allow two persons to determine the fate of the entire country.”
Additionally, he stated that the number of cruise passengers coming to Dominica is expected to increase by as much as 15-percent.
“Last year, we had about 276,000 persons coming to Dominica, which was about 4-percent less than what we had prior… The numbers show that we had four vessels, with over 25,000 people…” Tonge divulged. “This year, for the season that is planned, we have 319,000 people expected… We’re looking at at least a ten to fifteen-percent increase in our numbers.”
In early May, Tonge blamed the low numbers for the 2015/2016 cruise ship season on challenges such as high winds, which resulted in seven cancelled ship calls.
At that time he also announced that several regulations will be implemented for the 2016/2017 cruise ship season.
Among these initiatives was the inclusion of a properly trained, and preferably multilingual tour guide on each tour bus, exclusive access at tourist attractions, at certain times, and a new dispatch system, with minimum tour rates.
It was also said that the Ministry sought to establish a holding area for buses to encourage order, to facilitate inspection of vehicles, and to reduce traffic congestion in the city.
Tonge commented that Dominica has high ratings of 8.7 for organized tours.