Although COVID-19 has impacted the tourism sector with a complete pause on cruises and international air travel, Antigua and Barbuda continues to construct a fifth cruise berth which will be ready at the beginning of the winter tourism season later this year.
Antigua & Barbuda officially handed over management of Antigua’s cruise ports to Global Ports Holdings in December 2019 after many months of negotiations and signing of a US $80 million 30-year concession agreement.
The agreement includes the financing of a fifth cruise pier to accommodate the OASIS Class vessels, and additional investments aimed at improving the shopping and other entertainment amenities in and around Heritage Quay.
On Saturday 23rd May, Minister of Tourism and Investment, Hon Charles Fernandez and Permanent secretary, Walter Christopher toured the site where the fifth cruise berth is being constructed to get a progress report from Meridian Construction Ltd.
Project Manager, Joel Keeman who facilitated the tour said works are on schedule and about 60% of the work to the 5th pier has been completed thus far and he anticipates that the project will be completed on time barring any bad weather.
Following the tour, Permanent Secretary Mr. Walter Christopher said he was very satisfied with the infrastructural work that has been completed so far and is confident that all works on the berth will be completed by the middle of October, to include the dredging of the turning basin.
Tourism Minister the Hon. Charles Fernandez says he is also very impressed with the progress thus far; even more so that progress is being made despite the current Covid-19 situation.
The Hon. Minster noted that there are about 80 persons working on the site and 80% are Antiguan Citizens while the other 20% are technical specialists from around the Caribbean who are assisting with the completion of the project. The workforce has been split in two and are now working on a shift system to allow for social distancing.
Minister Fernandez said the berth will be commissioned during the 4th quarter of this year when an Oasis Class Ship will dock for the first time at our cruise ports barring no change in the ship’s scheduled port of calls.