GB will lose millions during Grand Celebration’s humanitarian mission, says businessman
Grand Bahama may lose as much as $6 million over the three months that the Grand Celebration cruise ship is on a humanitarian mission to St. Thomas, a Grand Bahama businessman told Guardian Business yesterday.
The businessman, who wished to remain anonymous, said he does not blame the cruise line for its decision, if it is being paid to carry on humanitarian work in St. Thomas following the passage of Hurricane Irma.
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said in a statement that his government understands the priority and need for the cruise line to assist with the efforts in St. Thomas.
“I met with the principals of Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, operators of Bahamas Celebration,” he said.
“We understand the circumstances of the Bahamas Celebration assisting the U.S. government in hurricane relief efforts. It was a priority under the circumstances.”
The cruise line issued a statement on its website as follows: “The MV Grand Celebration, owned and operated by Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, will be heading to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).”
The businessman said, given the cruise ship’s departure from Grand Bahama for three months, he hopes that The Bahamas government has come up with a contingency plan for Grand Bahama’s lost business.
“Did we organize to say we are open for business? I overheard government officials asking ‘Why didn’t we go and knock on doors?’ And the answer was, ‘We are the government; if we call, they (tourism operators) should come’.”
He said countries with open ports are “knocking on doors” to let cruise lines know that their ports are open. He was concerned that Grand Bahama’s port is not being fully represented to the cruise lines, which, he lamented, do not consider Grand Bahama to be one of the better Caribbean ports.
“There are two things happening,” he said. “[One of them is that] cruise guests are going to those places that rank the best.”
He added that the relationship between the government, Grand Bahama and the cruise lines is a matter of trust, and at this time, “trust is more important than dollars”.
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