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Tourism Authority: We can’t afford to lose business

Tourism Authority: We can’t afford to lose business

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Some tourism officials have expressed concern about the effect of today’s protest action in Kingstown, which coincides with the arrival of a Princess Cruise Lines ship and more than 4,000 passengers and crew.{{more}}

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority Glen Beache said that the action planned by the New Democratic Party’s (NDP) would not only affect the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but also tourism stake holders.

Beache stressed that tour operators, taxi drivers and store owners as well as vendors could suffer if the tourists are turned away by the protestors. The protestors are scheduled to march from Back Street outside the House of Assembly to Heritage Square, where they will proceed to the Prime Minister’s office housed in the Main Administrative Building on Bay Street.

The former Minister of Tourism said that the $10 head tax collected by the Port Authority could dwindle if the more than 2,500 tourists and 1,500 crew members refuse to venture from the ship.

“In this hard guava crop season, we can’t afford to lose business, because there is always somebody willing to take it from us,” Beache said.

Princess Cruise Lines, one of the larger cruise companies in the world with over 120 itineraries to more than 300 hundred destinations, had pulled its calls to Port Kingstown in the late 90s, only to return in 2003-2004.

The company had complained about the untidy state of the streets Kingstown as one of its reasons for pulling out.

Beache lauded Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves for his decision not to hold Parliament on Tuesday, and said that the Opposition Leader’s decision to hold protests, shows his lack of concern for tourism in St. Vincnet and the Grenadines.

“Mr. Eustace always called me out as Minister of Tourism about tourism… and one of their senators worked with tourism for quite a while so they should know what it is like…. If they want to protest they should protest, but there is no need to do it now,” said Beache.

“As a matter of fact, if he had commonsense, he would do it on Wednesday when they have Cabinet and that might make a much bigger impact; but Mr. Eustace just wants to get in power,” Beache contended.

An official from one of the country’s leading tour operators, Corea and Company, which has six land tours with more than 500 tourists scheduled for today, said that they do not expect a setback in taking the visitors to and from their destinations.

The official said that the tour guides will be reminded that they are to ‘curb their interests’ when speaking to the visitors about the happenings if they are to enquire.

“It can affect them whether they are a supporter of the NDP or ULP (Unity Labour Party),” said the official.

The spokesperson also indicated that they are happy that the prime minister saw it fit to postpone Parliament.

It is not known how the tourists who decide to venture out on their own to the various sites around Kingstown will fare.

At a political meeting on Sunday, February 6, Gonsalves announced that parliament would be postponed to March 3, citing the arrival of the Princess Cruise Lines as one of the main reasons for the postponement.

The NDP, which had already planned to picket Parliament today to protest the proposed amendment to the Represen-tation of the People Act and last week’s amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code, decided to proceed with its plans to stage a march and rally.