A former minister of tourism believes it would have served the government of Antigua and Barbuda better to enter into a partnership with a cruise line to finance the construction and management of the fifth berthing facility, rather than entering into the now controversial 30-year agreement with Global Port Holdings.
That’s the view of Harold Lovell, political leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP), who suggested that a major cruise line has more experience in the field and would ensure that cruise vessels arrive at the country’s port because they have a stake in the development.
He said that arrangement pales in comparison to a management company which is now trying to expand its interest in the Caribbean.
“We have given them [Global Port Holdings] control of the Port and we have not only done it at Heritage Quay, but also Falmouth Harbour and Barbuda. They are also responsible for cruise-related activities and that means that anybody who has anything to do with cruise tourism must come through them,” Lovell said.
He warned that an arrangement like this will have serious implications for service providers.
Lovell also explained that although the agreement speaks of giving priority to locals, this is not enforceable and could be subjected to changes at any point in time.
Global Ports Holding recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the government to negotiate a long-term concession for cruise port operations in the country, including St. John’s cruise port where most of the passenger traffic is concentrated.
The agreement includes the financing of the fifth cruise pier to accommodate the OASIS Class vessels, and additional investments aimed at improving the shopping and other entertainment amenities for disembarking cruise passengers in and around Heritage Quay.
According to worldmaritimenews.com the development in Antigua marks the group’s second expansion step in the Americas after the signing of a 15-year management agreement with the Cuban company Aries for the operation of the cruise port in Havana, Cuba in May 2018.