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Cruise deal

A minimum of 250,000 additional cruise passengers will be coming to the shores of Nassau this year–Guardian Businesscan confirm–with a deal in place guaranteeing the arrival of at least that amount in 2011.

Director of Cruise Development Carla Stuart told Guardian Business that the Ministry of Tourism reached an agreement with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association(FCCA), which will steer additional visitors to the country and bring at least$5 million in head taxes.

“We actually negotiated with the cruise lines to increase passenger counts by 250,000 for the next three years. Although[2010]we did well, we’re expecting to continue to do well. So at minimum we should see increases of counts of at least 250,000 or above.”

Stuart mentioned that the negotiations between the ministry and the FCCA about increasing the passenger count wasn’t the initial reason behind the meeting, the discussions were pertaining to”other matters.”The FCCA is comprised of 14 cruise lines, of which four cruise to Nassau. She also added that the additional passengers will not apply to the smaller ships in Grand Bahama such as the Discovery. The agreement will last until 2012 and the increased number of tourists coming in will also provide a boost to downtown businesses.

Stuart asserted that the ministry is always active in terms of seeking ways to increase passenger arrivals.

“We try to keep current in our information of what’s happening in the industry,”she said.”When we are negotiating with the lines we try to lobby with them if they are looking to enter the region. It’s a market we have to be aggressive with because other countries are active and we have to continue to seek new opportunities.”

Stuart mentioned a few countries that could be competitors to The Bahamas, including St. Thomas, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. But she is less concerned about what the competition is doing and more focused in what progress the country is making.

“That’s always a threat. Our focus is more so on remaining a destination of choice, and continuing to improve the experience in The Bahamas so that people who request to go on a cruise, they are seeking a Bahamas cruise,”she said.”Our job is to continue to stay on top and continue to do what we need to do to remain above the rest.

“We’re expecting increases off hand… 2009 was a banner year for us and 2010 exceeded arrivals given the economic situation and we’re expecting this year to be a great year.

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