Cruise ships are the biggest victim of COVID-19: They have all but ceased to exist – or at least to be seen The pandemic has cruelly exposed the extreme fragility of the industry to attacking what makes it so popular: crowds in the know ask: is COVID-19 an existential threat to the industry? This certainly puts an end to the simplistic assumption that the industry has been relying on for 30 years: Endless Growth You can forget this one! What other sacred cows in the industry now need to be redesigned?
Three words: all I am one of those “ pessimists ” who believe that the cruise ship industry will be hit hard by COVID-19, and that although the number of passengers will increase once everything is finished, they’ll never reach pre-pandemic levels – at least not in the near future And I’m okay with that Hopefully people who choose to no longer cruise will do what they used to do: visit a country and spend money there
But as sure as night follows day, cruise ships are here to stay, they will never leave. Crisis comes opportunity; and the opportunity here is that when the industry finally comes back, it has to come back better. And I don’t mean just better boats and better health protocols; I’m talking about a better industry – for all So far the cruise ship industry has been very good for two groups of people: the ship owners and their passengers In 2018, Royal Caribbean made $ 1.8 billion in profits and increased its dividend payout by 136% in five years Passengers are also clearly delighted: cruise is the fastest growing section of the tourism market, growing by 5% in the five years preceding COVID-19
However, the benefits accruing to the third member of the triumvirate, the host countries, are much less certain From Vanuatu to the Virgin Islands, host countries have vehemently complained that they are not receiving their fair share of the industry’s economic benefits cruise ships And they’re right: Royal Caribbean has increased its dividends by 136% in five years – have their host countries seen a similar increase in their “dividends”? When ships finally return to the horizon, Caribbean governments must bring captains of industry back to the negotiating table, to correct their glaring mistakes:
The semi-annual Economic Impact Report released by the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) is very unscientific, based on a visitor spending survey completed by less than 3% of passengers, and has biased questions to deliver exaggerated results In 2018, the average spend for cruise passengers in Jamaica was US $ 111.82 But what proportion was immediately washed out of the country, on cheap Chinese souvenirs and duty-free items: half? More? As one disgruntled Falmouth Cruise Port salesman succinctly put it: “All they leave behind is their shit!”
The average entry tax in the Caribbean is $ 8.92 per passenger, a paltry sum compared to the actual cost of cruise ships to the host country Hotels pay a variety of taxes: tourist tax, tax departure, customs duties, VAT, air tax, property tax, income tax, corporation tax, stamp duty and environmental levies On the other hand, what do cruise ships pay? A meager US $ 892 per head: a very uneven playing field
The FCCA is the industry’s umbrella organization and does an excellent job of promoting the interests of its members On the other hand, there is no organization of Caribbean governments to talk about a sole voice to industry, neither CARICOM nor OECS Result: we play from one country against another, like crabs in a barrel
Like most ocean-going ships, cruise ships are registered under flags of convenience such as Liberia, Panama, and Malta, which allow shipping companies to conceal their true ownership, pay nothing. taxes and evade labor law Not that all of this is preventing them from reaching out for the COVID-19 bailouts; if that’s not the definition of chutzpah i don’t know what it is Cruise ship crews, mostly from india and philippines, work long hours, minimum wage and live in premises cramped In addition, they were the hidden victims of the pandemic, imprisoned on unarmed ships for months
On cruise days, Grand Anse beach in Granada becomes a zoo, with thousands of noisy excursionists This is diametrically opposed to what tourists stay in Grenada for: beauty, peace and tranquility.The average spend per stay per tourist is $ 950, compared to $ 40 per cruise passenger, and yet we sacrifice the former for the latter: it makes no economic sense
Cruise ships are very good at keeping their passengers on board, where they spend the money they would have spent ashore In Grenada, 25% of passengers do not even get off the ship, port estimates “Activities such as meals and entertainment are all done on the cruise ship, leaving little to spend in local economies” – Caribbean Development Bank
During my short career as a small boat operator, I have seen firsthand how hard it is to make money with cruise ships They add 100% commission on prices charged by local vendors and insist that operators take out extremely expensive liability insurance for their passengers During the summer season, small operators suck the wind The hotel sector declines in summer; cruise ships disappear
In 1999, Grenada imposed a US $ 50 per person Environmental Tax on cruise ship passengers, to help meet the growing cost of solid waste disposal Carnival Cruise Lines, supplier of 50% of passengers from Grenada, boycotted the island for five years Neighboring islands were happy to take over
A large cruise ship can produce 95,000 liters of sewage, 500,000 liters of sewage, 7 tons of garbage, 56 liters of toxic chemicals and 26,000 liters of oily bilge water per day – where does it end up? When you add road use and congestion in urban areas into the equation, it’s obvious that cruise ships are huge consumers of onshore infrastructure services – are they paying their fair share?
In May 2019, Carnival Cruise Lines was fined US $ 20 million for dumping plastic waste into the sea and falsifying waste disposal records Carnival has a long history of dumping at sea and it is evident that the occasions they have been discovered only represent a small percentage of their illegal dumping. According to Friends of the Earth, the global cruise ship industry discharges approximately one billion gallons of sewage into the oceans each year Given that the Caribbean represents a third of the world’s industry, then we can assume that a third of this wastewater is dumped into OUR precious and fragile Caribbean Sea.
Royal Caribbean Cruises, Cruise Ship, Singapore
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