By Makeida Antonio
An impressive drop in Antigua and Barbuda’s Covid-19 active cases has been attributed to a projection in increased tourism activity at the country’s port.
While residents are still being encouraged to become vaccinated by Ministry of Health officials and the government’s vaccine mandate, Cruise Port officials have reassured the public that there are Covid-19 protocols in place such as health screening for passengers upon arrival before touring the streets of St. John’s City and other spots across the island.
Operations Manager, Rawle Reynolds, who spoke to Observer at the inaugural arrival of Viking Orion of the Viking Cruise line on Friday, happily disclosed that Antigua and Barbuda is anticipating the arrival of several thousand cruise ship passengers in November.
Reynolds believes that a part of the strategy to revitalise the tourism sector in Antigua and Barbuda is getting vaccinated.
“I would like to encourage members of the general public in the country to show that the main aim is if we all get vaccinated, we can do better things because there are a lot more vessels waiting to be a part of this destination,” he said.
He explained that the decision made by cruise ships to visit various destinations is heavily influenced by the management of the Covid-19 pandemic in the respective countries.
“There are a few things that the vessels are watching – the vaccination status of each country and what are some of the protocols. Antigua has made great effort to set the stage in terms of how it’s going, how the vaccination rate is going, and again, our low count of active cases has contributed tremendously to attract vessels such as this. It does take a lot of work.”
Also, Reynolds shared that another major vessel which will be arriving at Heritage Quay today, despite sailing below maximum capacity, is another hopeful sign that things will start to pick up again in the industry.
“Come Tuesday, we will see the Britannia, the capacity of the Britannia is just about 3,000, and they should have roughly 1,600 to 1,700 passengers because all the vessels are not full capacity, to 100 percent. This actually signals a true restart of the season,” he reported.
Antigua Cruise Port General Manager Dona Regis-Prosper has also announced that around twenty-five thousand passengers are due to visit our shores this month. She has indicated the assistance of the police in efforts to get the country’s tourism industry back on track.
“We have just about 25,000 passengers expected to call during the month of November. We have collaborated with the police, the police have really come on board and assisted us in terms of managing the entire experience,” Regis-Prosper said to Observer on Friday.
Before the end of 2021, Regis-Prosper has predicted the arrival of even more cruise ship passengers which will stimulate the economy through taxi men, tour operators, vendors etc.
“As we go into the month of December, we will see a sharp increase from 25,000 to just about 77,000 passengers due to be here by the end of the year.”