Walker: Cruise tourism is crippling the economy

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The parliamentary representative for Barbuda, Trevor Walker, is advising the government to shift its focus from cruise tourism because, according to him, it is too expensive to maintain. Walker said the focus should instead be on landbased tourism. His rationale for making that statement is that the cruise industry keeps changing regularly, leaving small island states struggling to keep up.
According to Walker, cruise tourism has saddled small islands with huge debts that most governments cannot repay. “Ever so often they tell you we have a bigger ship coming in and in order for you to accommodate them, we must expand our ports and we must go and raise the money,” he explained.
Walker said that just the preparation to get a port ready costs millions of dollars. “And when you ask them to increase the head tax they refuse, and when we insist they threaten not to call on our ports,” Walker added He said that scenario is quite frightening and worrying because “at the end of the day you are crippled with high debts that you cannot repay”.
According to the Barbuda MP, the benefits of cruise tourism [are not] worth it, because some cruise travelers raise just enough money to get on the ship. “Some people don’t get off the ship because they have everything on the ship. They won’t spend at the various destinations, so what’s the point?” he queried
He said the focus should be on ensuring the improvement of hotels and ensuring that the relevant taxes are in place. “When you invest on the landside you have that guaranteed revenue stream to collect. Also, it’s more longterm because you also have other variables that come into play,” he said. The Barbuda MP’s remarks were made on Tuesday during a sitting of parliament.

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