By Shermain Bique-Charles
A ‘no-sail order’ announced by the world’s largest cruise industry trade body is not expected to significantly impact Antigua and Barbuda’s beleaguered tourism sector.
That is the belief of Tourism Minister Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez who spoke to Observer yesterday following the announcement from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
Friday’s press statement said major cruise lines, including Carnival, Norwegian, Disney and Royal Caribbean, had voluntarily extended their suspension of voyages out of US ports from July 24 until September 15.
“Traditionally, that season is normally slow. Few, if any calls, would come at this time,” Fernandez said.
He continued, “The season really ramps up around November and December. We won’t be missing out in any great extent.”
The country’s tourism industry has been slowly rebounding following a decision to reopen the boarders but much remains stalled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Fernandez said the decision by leading cruise companies had both pros and cons.
“It gives me confidence that they want to make sure that everything is right in terms of health protocols before they leave the port,” he said.
It also allows Antigua and Barbuda ample time to put its own regulations in place, he explained.
“The Ministry of Health would have to approve their protocols and we will also be able to add our own protocols. We are pleased to see that there is very rigid protocols placed on the cruise industry,” he said.
With more than 50 cruise line members, CLIA represents more than 95 percent of the global cruise industry, serving over 24 million passengers each year.