Dominica's Tourism Minister, The Honourable Ian Douglas, has raised concerns over the announcement by Royal Caribbean International that it will reposition its ship, "'Serenade of the Seas', from the Caribbean to Europe in the summer of 2012. He said any loss of business in the tourism sector will affect the Dominican economy.
"Tourism is the major driver of the economy right now and cruise tourism is a major part of that. It employs many persons from vendors to tour operators and any loss of business will be detrimental"'
"Tourism is a very competitive market and cruise executives are always looking to grow their business"'
"So we in the Caribbean have to also think along those lines and ensure that visitors are given the best. We have to ensure that the product is always fresh, exciting and appealing,"' Douglas said.
The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has also expressed concern over the loss of cruise business from the southern Caribbean. According to Secretary General Hugh Riley, the CTO is aware that repositioning is a normal course of business within the cruise sector, particularly during the summer months and the strong comparative advantage that the Caribbean has in the winter months changes in the summer.
However, CTO's Executive Council of Ministers at a recent meeting indicated the need to discuss the matter of summer cruising with some of the industry's key players, with a view to developing strategies for improving the competitiveness of the Caribbean for summer cruising.
While seasonal adjustments in cruise traffic to the Caribbean region are not uncommon, the situation now merits closer attention, particularly in the southern Caribbean where winter cruising continues to be strong, but it would appear that summer traffic has become the victim of high fuel costs and geography.
The cruise industry is a significant component of the region's tourism mix and the Caribbean remains a highly desirable cruising destination. In 2010 the region's cruise passenger arrivals grew by six per cent, continuing the phenomenal growth experienced over the past four decades with the numbers climbing from just over one million cruise visits in 1970 to over 20 million last year. CTO leaders want this strong consumer demand for the region in the cruise industry to be developed year round, with more summer business resulting.
The CTO is the region's tourism development agency committed to working with its thirty-three member countries and industry partners to grow travel to the region and maintain the Caribbean's position as the world's leading warm weather tourism destination.