Minster of Tourism Hon Asot A. Michael convened a critical meeting with over 25 key heads of Government agencies and private sector tourism partners to discuss and solidify plans to successfully host over 400,000 cruise ship passengers who are expected to visit the island in the last few months of the year.
The areas that were addressed included visitor safety, and security, transportation, & dispatching, the availability of adequate tours, attractions, and rest room facilities along with the cleanliness of St Johns as well as the popular high traffic beaches.
Representatives attended from the Ministry of Tourism, the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, the AHTA, Bryson’s Shipping, The Antigua Pier Group, The Antigua Port Authority, St Johns Development Corporation, The Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda, The Antigua and Barbuda Defense Force and Coast Guard, Ministry of Works and Housing, Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board, National Parks Authority, The Merchant’s Association, and St Johns Taxi Association, along with the Ministry of Agriculture, land, fisheries and Barbuda Affairs.
A number of initiatives were suggested and agreed that will enhance the visitor experience on the multiple cruise ship days, which included proper parking and traffic control along with increased security patrols in St. Johns and the country’s beaches. Several ships this season will be departing as late as 9:00 p.m. which will also offer new opportunities for late evening shopping to merchants in St Johns. The need for multiple language dispatchers was a key issue that will be addressed by the Ministry of Tourism to further enhance the guest experience.
All plans will be fine tuned for the largest ever arrival of cruise passengers on Sunday December 26th when over twenty five thousand passengers and crew will arrive in Antigua with 5 ships in St Johns and 2 at Falmouth. A mini carnival parade in downtown St Johns will be a part of the day’s welcome celebration in marking the momentous occasion.
“It is absolutely critical that we have all hands on deck to ensure our cruise visitors have a most memorable experience when they visit Antigua. We must give them a visit that stands out on their itineraries and one that will result in high satisfaction scores for our country. This is a key deciding factor that cruise lines use to determine where the ships are permanently positioned going forward” said Minister Asot Michael.
Over the last quarter of this year 54-cruise ship calls have been added to the schedule of which 16 will be inaugural calls from ships that have never visited our port before. These ships particularly the inaugural calls will receive a special welcome, with a plaque exchange and media event to officially welcome them to Antigua and Barbuda.
The meeting ending with all parties giving a commitment to work together to ensure that all our cruise guests who will disembark in Antigua and Barbuda over the next few months will receive a phenomenal reception that will showcase the warmth and hospitality of the Antiguan and Barbudan people.