Tourism Minister, Robert Tonge, has revealed that despite negative reports and rumours, there will be an increase of over 15 percent in cruise passengers to Dominica for the 2016/2017 cruise ship season.
“This year, in terms of cruise visitors, we had about 276,000 persons coming to our shore. Many people try to fool you, and they say ‘well, it’s not increasing’, but I can tell you, this season, for the cruise business, our numbers are going up to 319,000 people,” he said, on Tuesday, at a DLP rally in Soufriere. “That is an increase of over 15 percent.”
Tongue remarked that tourism benefits every citizen, whether directly or indirectly.
Statistics from the Caribbean Tourism Association showed disappointing figures for the just ended 2015/2016 cruise ship season, with the island receiving 165 calls and a total of 284,000 passengers.
This represented a 2.5 percent drop as compared to 2014 when Dominica received 286,575 cruise ship visitors.
In early May, Tonge blamed the low numbers 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.