Gov’t to continue dialogue with Carnival Cruise Line

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The government is to hold a second round of talks with the executives of Carnival Cruise Lines this week regarding the cancellation of calls to St John’s.

The first meeting with the executives of Carnival Corporation, held in Miami last week, has been described as fruitful.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne stated on the weekend that the meeting went as expected, adding that his government had done nothing wrong.

“The position that I took, which was not specific to Carnival, I spoke about the industry structure and the exploitation that would have taken place over the decade. It is a position of fact and I reiterated my position last week,” Browne said during an interview on Pointe FM over the weekend.

He said going forward the government will be seeking to establish a sustaining and mutually beneficial partnership between Carnival and all the other stakeholders, with Global Ports Holding as a third party.

“It is evident that a rational discussion took place on Friday. The temperature has been cooled and, clearly, they [Carnival] were reacting to the fact that we are pushing for an increase in the head tax, and they were concerned about an exclusivity clause in the agreement – which will be addressed,” Browne said.

Carnival Cruise Line earlier this month cancelled scheduled stops by four of its vessels to Antigua, indicating that the move was due to a change of its itinerary.

While nothing further was said, it is believed that the government’s agreement with Global Ports Holding (GPH) and the proposed passenger head tax increase was what led Carnival to cancel future calls to the country.

A week ago, Information Minister Melford Nicholas also admitted that the company cancelled scheduled visits to Antigua over concerns about the GPH agreement and their perception that it would be bad for business.

GPH recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the government to negotiate a long-term concession for cruise operations in the country.

The 30-year agreement includes the financing of the fourth cruise pier to accommodate the Oasis class vessels, additional investments aimed at improving the shopping and other entertainment amenities for disembarking passengers in an around Heritage Quay. 

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