From Budget 2020
Our recent cruise arrivals have increased rapidly, going from 82,079 in 2015 to 217,876 in 20187 to 250,717 in 2019.
That 206% growth over four years has outpaced the ability of our private sector to take full and timely advantage of this burgeoning opportunity.
Specifically, the lack of adequate tour bus and boat capacity has become a bottleneck on further development in the cruise sector, and is an impediment to our efforts to monetize effectively cruise arrivals.
When compared to regional and industry averages, fewer cruise passengers go on tours in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines because we do not have enough buses or boats to transport them.
This bottleneck limits the average time that visitors spend ashore, and the average amount of money each passenger spends in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
According to the results of passenger surveys, we perform well regarding passengers’ satisfaction with their welcome, the quality, cleanliness and professionalism of our taxi drivers, and with quality of the actual tours.
However, there simply aren’t enough tours available. Our Government is advised that there is an immediate need for an additional 20 large tour buses and five tour boats to meet current demand, to say nothing of potential future growth.
As such, Budget 2020 attempts to further incentivise the purchase of tour buses and boats by the local private sector. As discussed in more detail later in this Budget Speech, the Government is prepared to extend duty concessions of up to 90% on tour buses over 25 seats, and 100% duty waiver on tour boats.
Further, we have engaged in discussions with banks, some of whom have indicated a willingness to offer creative loan packages to boat and bus owners, including the modification of payments during the off-season.