Minister of Tourism, Investment and Economic Development, Charles Fernandez has signed a ten-year agreement with President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, Michael Bayley, which will see increased cruise passengers visiting Antigua and Barbuda’s ports and the development of the facilities.
Minister Fernandez said that simultaneously, Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited and Global Ports Holding Plc signed an agreement establishing a partnership between the two entities.
According to a release, the agreement includes “a strategy to double passenger volumes, increasing to 500,000 annually within five years. The increase will commence annually upon completion of the fifth berth; throughout the summer months, a strategy to schedule at least 30,000 passengers, in addition to the regular winter schedule upon completion of the fifth berth; executives will travel to Antigua, to explore several locations, to potentially establish, invest and develop experiences to enhance the destination offerings; upon completion of the fifth berth, Royal Caribbean will schedule its Oasis class vessels to call regularly into Antigua. The Oasis class ships carry approximately 6,000 passengers and 2,100 crew members, making the Oasis Class Ships the largest in the world; an increase in Head Tax starting in October 2019; and Royal Caribbean will partner with the Antiguan government to develop job opportunities for Antiguans and Barbudans on their vessels”.
Meantime, President and Chief Executive Officer of Royal Caribbean International, Michael Bayley said the cruise line was pleased to have concluded the agreement, and “We are also looking forward to working with our partner, Global Ports Holdings in completing the Antiguan project.”
Minister Fernandez said that the cruise industry remains an integral part of the country’s tourism product and with the current positive outlook, it will provide much needed opportunities and jobs for the people of Antigua and Barbuda.
The government has invested over US $110 million dollars in the cruise facilities in St. John’s, and the further investment by Global Port Holdings Limited and Royal Caribbean Cruise Limited will bring the total investment to approximated EC $500 million dollars (US $200 million), the release said.