The Ministry of Tourism and Investment condemns unequivocally a misleading and scare-mongering statement made by a local shipping agent, Nathan Dundas, which serves the purposes of interested parties, other than the people of Antigua and Barbuda.
The deceptive statement has been quoted by sections of the traditional and social media and distributed widely on whatsapp.
In his statement, Mr. Dundas says that Carnival Cruise lines has cancelled its 4 upcoming calls for the winter 2019/20 season and that more cancellations are to follow. However, what he does not reveal is that normally Carnival Cruise Lines make only 3 or 4 calls to Antigua and Barbuda annually. The one exception to this pattern was the 2017-18 winter season when Hurricanes decimated other destinations, causing Carnival to take advantage of Antigua’s fully functioning port.
The total number of passengers that could be affected by these cancellations is approximately 12,200. This is a relatively small number of the total cruise passengers that visit our country annually.
Therefore, while we regret any loss of business, however, small in percentage terms, we do not anticipate any significant adverse impact on the stakeholders in our economy.
It is significant that, at no time, did Mr. Dundas contact the Ministry, the Port Authority or the Tourism Authority prior to his statement.
In choosing to issue his statement publicly, for reasons best known to himself, Mr. Dundas caused unnecessary fear among cruise stakeholders, and the general public which was obviously his intention, particularly by his personal and unsubstantiated claim that he expects to see “more cancellations going forward”.
Nonetheless, the Ministry of Tourism makes it clear that we value highly our long standing and mutually beneficial partnership with Carnival Cruise Lines, and we will do all in our power to enhance it.
We are seeking sustainable cruise tourism partnerships for the empowerment of all, not just for the benefit of a few.