MINISTRY OF TOURISM WORKS TOWARDS IMPROVING OPERATIONS AT PORT ZANTE
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SKNIS Photo: Minister of Tourism, Honourable Lindsay Grant
Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 08, 2016 (SKNIS): Minister of Tourism, Honourable Lindsay Grant, announced on November 7 that his ministry and the St. Kitts Tourism Authority in collaboration with the taxi operators are trying to find a workable solution to remove the congestion and other challenges with dispatching at the arrival hall at Port Zante.
Minister Grand said that as it is, passengers who have pre-booked tours enter to the western side of the port and the taxi operators would be on the eastern side.
The tourism minister stated that the design must be revamped and formulated in such a way to accommodate the thousands of passengers visiting off the ships.
“We must appreciate that we are coming from a situation where we had 500 thousand cruise passengers to an explosion in 2016- 2017 cruise season of 1.1 million passengers,” said the minister. “This means that over the last five years we have the numbers being increased by 100 percent. So the design has to be changed and formulated in such a way to accommodate 15 thousand passengers coming off on any given day.”
Minister Grant said that the Ministry of Tourism’s and the St. Kitts Tourism Authority’s remit is to ensure that citizens receive the benefit of every single dollar that they can derive from every cruise passenger that comes off. He added that its remit is to also ensure that the entire country stands to benefit from tourism and the cruise product and other aspects coming into the country.”
Another challenge is that the western side of Port Zante, the pre-booked tours side, will not be functional during the building of the second cruise pier. The solution is to move them from the western area to the eastern area and move the taxi operators to the taxi stand which (St. Kitts Urban Development Corporation) UDC has spent US $800 thousand.
The minister assured that the taxi operators will not lose business due to the change.
“We as the Ministry of Tourism will hire individuals who will guide the visitors once they come from the arrival hall down to where the taxi operators are. That for us is going to ensure that the visitor experience is at its highest.”
The minister explained that traditionally over the years there has been an issue with the dispatching from the taxi stand.
“We have sat down with the taxi operators to try to find a solution where the ministry can work side-by-side with the taxi operators to ensure the dispatching is at its highest,” said the minister. “We believe that the dispatching as it currently stands, we need to change that. You would appreciate that when a cruise ship docks at the commercial pier, there is dispatching in a most proper way. You would also recognise that when you come to the airport and you come outside, there is a proper dispatching by taxis at the airport. The only difference is at Port Zante, which is what we want to correct.”
The minister added that outside of the arrival hall, there is a lot of solicitation and because of this there is undercutting of the government rates for taxies outside the arrival hall and beyond. Therefore, the ministry and the tourism authority is trying to ensure that this does not continue. He further stated that this has caused many challenges which no one is benefitting from.
“We are trying to ensure now that all the problems and challenges at Port Zante [are remedied]. This is not tourism over the last two years. These problems have been endemic in the industry and we are now trying to settle those issues that we have,” said Minister Grant.