Global Ports Holding (GPH) Antigua has projected 2020 tourist arrivals to be at 788,000.
In a record year, cruise tourist arrivals to the twin-island state totaled 792,873 passengers in 2018.
Though passenger arrivals are projected down, the Head of Finance at GPH Antigua, Nadasta Hurst, said the company is projecting a total of US $1.97 million to go directly to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda (GOAB) by the end of 2020.
Of the rates being charged by GPH to the expected cruise tourists, US $1 will be charged per passenger as government head tax and US $1.50 per passenger will be charged as environmental tax.
After last week Thursday’s official handover of the St John’s port management to GPH, a number of questions have been asked by the port’s various stakeholders as to their place and role in its new direction.
The handover of the port management left Heritage and Redcliffe quays store and property owners, taxi operators, vendors and the existing St John’s Development Corporation (SJDC) staff anxiously awaiting the fulfillment of promises made by both the GOAB and GPH.
Seeking to allay some concerns, GPH Antigua General Manager, Dona Regis, said that, “we’ve hired 22 local residents … while we’re global, we’re certainly a very local company”.
“So what that means is that as we expand into markets, we ensure that we understand the local culture, the way of the life of the people. We understand the local norms, their way of doing business and we respect that,” she added.
The general manager admitted that the conversations with the stakeholders are still ongoing: “Naturally… when there is change… there are always things [outstanding] that we have to work together on. But we have committed on both sides to be open with each other and I think that is the platform for success.”
At last week’s handover ceremony, GPH committed a number of promises to include paying off a 20-year-old US $21 million debt at Antigua Commercial Bank. The general manager along with GPH Antigua’s head of finance, Nadasta Hurst confirmed that this bond has been paid in full.
Regis and Hurst also confirmed that GPH has taken over the financing the fifth pier berth of up to US $30 million and that it will be completed for the summer of 2020.
“So, the building of that fifth berth that can accommodate 5000-plus passengers per call on a year-round basis,” Regis explained, “you do the math. You can see how we can move from 700,000 to 1.5 million passengers.”
As it pertains to GPH’s promise to upgrade the quay areas, Hurst said. “We have started some minor upgrades; there are cruise ships in every day as it is the season, so we are limited to what we can do. But we will, over the next 10 to 12 months, be spending up to US $3 million to upgrade the Heritage Quay complex.”