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Air, cruise fare increase predicted if European war is prolonged

Tourism officials are concerned that the fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine risks dealing a major blow to the tourism industry if it continues.

Tourism and Investment Minister, Charles Fernandez, while noting stakeholders were anticipating a favorable summer, said the increase in oil prices will directly impact air and cruise fares at a time when the sectors are emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ongoing invasion is creating a level of uncertainty.

Despite assurances by the United States Government and several countries that they will release several million barrels of oil from strategic reserves in order to stabilize the global market, it has done little to prevent oil prices from escalating, a situation Minister Fernandez predicts will impact the emerging industry.

“We just got through the pandemic, we believe we’re just now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, we’re coming through the tunnel, and then boom we’re hit with this. Whatever plans we have, it could affect us in a very negative way.”

Despite the concerns expressed, Minister Fernandez is satisfied at the successful rebound of the local cruise industry.

“I think Antigua in terms of cruise did better than most of the islands, if not all of them, in terms of cruise arrivals,” he said.

He acknowledged there are delays in upgrades to certain infrastructure, but those are not restraining industry officials from devising a plan directed at improving the product and boosting the sector.

“We wanted to have the dredging completed, that has not happened, we are still pursuing it. We have a meeting at the end of this month again with the Oasis Class, we will present all of the information relating to the dredging, and hopefully, with what is happening in Europe, perhaps some ships will be diverted, which was alluded to previously to the Caribbean. So, there is still that glimmer of hope, but the best thing for all of us would be for this war to end and things to get back to some form of normalcy.”

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