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Cruise Industry At Odds With Puerto Rico Government’s New Incentive Plan

Tourism Co. Hires Intervistas To Draft New Incentive Proposal


April 29, 2004
Copyright © 2004 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

The Puerto Rico Ports Authority’s Proposal To Increase Cruise Passenger Fees By 23% Might Set Ships From The Florida And Caribbean Cruises Association (FCCA) Sailing To Other Waters. The FCCA Also Disagrees With The Proposals’ New Terms Governing How Economic Incentives Are Granted To Cruise Lines.

In Addition To Higher Cruise Passenger Fees, Which Will Jump From $10.30 To $13.25 Starting July 1, Under The New Proposals, Each Vessel Would Have To Bring In 120,000 Passengers To Be Eligible For A Reduced Fee Of $5.00.

Tourism Co. Executive Director Jose Suarez Said Cruise Companies Don’t Agree With The Proposal Because Reaching The Quota Would Be Difficult.

"What We Are Looking For Is An Incentive Package With A Tariff…That Will Make San Juan Competitive As A Home Port And As A Port Of Call," Said Michelle Paige, President Of The FCCA.

The Parties Discussed The Proposal Last Week During A Meeting Held In Miami, But Weren’t Able To Reach An Agreement And Are Expected To Meet Again On May 7.

With Negotiations At An Impasse, And Given The Complexities Involved In Planning Ship Routes, Paige Complained That Cruise Lines Don’t Have Much Time If They Are To Make Changes In The Face Of Higher Tariffs. With Only About Two Months Left Before The Proposed Tariff Takes Effect, Paige Said It Is Expected That Two FCCA Cruise Ships Simply Won’t Be Calling At San Juan In The Forthcoming Months.

"We Have Acknowledged That Setting A Passenger Quota Per Vessel Instead Of Assigning A Goal Per Cruise Line Will Affect [Cruise Lines’] Operations On The Island And We Are Willing To Look For A Better Alternative," Said Suarez.

He Added That The Tourism Co. Asked Vancouver-Based Tourism Consulting Firm Intervistas To Help The Agency Design An Incentive Package By The End Of May.

"We Wanted To Get A Third Party’s Opinion On This Controversy And I Asked The Tourism Co. Board Members To Approve Assigning This Task To Intervistas," Said Suarez.

Intervistas Will Run Analyses On The Cruise Ship Industry, Cruise Passenger Fees For Caribbean Ports, And Port Fees On The U.S. Mainland, Explained Suarez. "We Want A More Balanced Equation Of What The Cruise Lines Need And What Puerto Rico Offers As Destination."

The Cruise Passenger-Fee Controversy Has Caught The Attention Of The Legislature, Which Is Considering Investigating The Matter.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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