As long as the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) does not agree to pay higher passenger head tax rates to its ports of call in the Caribbean, Global Ports Holding (GPH) LLC has a major competitive advantage over the Antigua Pier Group.
This was the opinion of Saiid Greene, Managing Director of the Antigua Pier Group.
Speaking to OBSERVER, Greene said repeated failure to convince the FCCA to pay more in passenger head taxes meant that only GPH could remain competitive against the larger port operators globally.
He said given that no cruise port in the Caribbean has been able to convince the FCCA that an increase in the visitor head tax is necessary “in order to further our capacity to take on larger clients in the world, only Global Ports has that capacity.”
Greene said GPH was receiving that level of support from the FCCA for operations in the Mediterranean where FCCA vessels ply their trade during the summer months when they are mostly absent from the Caribbean – whose annual cruise tourism season runs from November to May.
Greene was responding to questions about why the Pier Group could not deliver the commercial results that Government is seeking via what many consider to be an over-generous contract awarded to GPH for management and operation of all cruise ship ports and facilities in Antigua and Barbuda.
These include those located in the main harbour of the capital, Saint John’s – along with those at Falmouth Harbour in the south of Antigua and on the sister isle of Barbuda.
Greene pointed out that Global Ports has a management portfolio and a network of connections which the Antigua-based group cannot compete with.
“They bring institutional relationships that they have had throughout the Caribbean cruises that the Antiguan government and Antigua Pier Group don’t have,” he said, adding, “Their management footprint, with respect to cruise management globally, is [also] significantly larger.”
Global Ports Holding LLC, an international port operator working in 17 ports in 9 countries, entered into a concessionary agreement with the Government of Antigua and Barbuda in February 2019 to invest over US$80 million dollars in the development of the country’s cruise tourism ports.