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Beache not worried over declining cruise bookings

Beache not worried over declining cruise bookings


Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Lines this week became the third cruise-ship operator, after Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, to warn of a decline in Caribbean bookings.

Weaker demand for Caribbean voyages is forcing them to cut prices for trips in the first half of 2007, painting a bleak outlook in contrast to the anticipated surge in tourist arrivals for next year’s Cricket World Cup.{{more}}

The cruise liners, regarded as three of the major cruise operators in the region, revealed that higher fuel costs and rising interest rates will spell trouble for the Caribbean’s cruise tourism sector.

But, this country’s Tourism Minister Glen Beache, believes it is a bit too soon to worry about this forecast.

“I think their figures are too early, I am not too worried about it, as it’s a bit too early to start panicking,” Beache told Searchlight Business on Tuesday.

According to the Tourism Minister, the region has recorded a decline in arrivals, but more marketing and promotion must be undertaken to attract cruise passengers here.

Some analysts suggest that weakness in Caribbean cruise bookings will likely drag its ticket prices down — and with them, its financial performance — for the remainder of the year.

But according to Minister Beache cruise lines must use new destinations to attract customers.

“Cruise passengers are usually repeat passengers and they do not expect to go to the same destinations all the time,” Beach mentioned.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines, he said, provides a virgin destination for cruise operators to exploit.

“You can’t continuously go to the same destination all the time,” Minister Beache commented.

Not being too worried about the projected decline in cruise passengers here, Beache noted that the statistics will show that the country continues to benefit much more from stay over tourists than cruise passengers.