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Fernandez welcomes inaugural cruise visits, credits GPH’s work for increased interest

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Tourism Minister Charles Fernandez has credited the country’s reputation as a top tourism destination for the inaugural visits of two cruise lines just days apart.

Norwegian Getaway made its inaugural call to Antigua and Barbuda on Saturday while Voyager of the Seas arrived on Wednesday with 3800 tourists on board.

Fernandez said Global Ports Holding was worthy of commendation for the magnificent work they have produced.

“What this is saying is that they have confidence in the destination, and again, hats off to GPH (Global Ports Holding); they are a very important partner to us.

“As a matter of fact, I know we were vilified to an extent when we started negotiations and actually closed with GPH, but St. Lucia has closed with them, The Bahamas closed with them right after we closed, and they are having serious discussions with San Juan and are expected to close pretty soon.

“So… we were the leader in going forward with this because we understood that to really face up against the cruise lines you had to have somebody with muscle and GPH is the largest cruise port operator in the world.

“They handle all of the Mediterranean. They come with a great wealth of knowledge, experience and professionalism, and of course, the investments they have made,” Fernandez said.

One of those investments involves the upgrade of the pier and area around the dock.

Fernandez revealed that this phase of the development is picking up pace following the demolition of the buildings along the shoreline and with fencing now being erected around the area.

“We should have those plans approved hopefully within a few weeks”, he added.

The winter season is expected to be a busy one for the local cruise sector with over 50 calls scheduled before its end.

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