Millions of cruisers hit the Bahamas every summer, and they bring a whole lot of money to the islands. But Minister of tourism Dionisio D’Aguilar is looking to find ways to extract more money from cruisers, telling a local media outlet, The Tribune, that they needed to be “more aggressive” in that regard. “We have to find out ways for them to spend more money when they come here,” he added.
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It appears that D’Aguilar is interested in shaking things up where the island’s relationship with cruise lines is concerned. “They make all the money,” he said, “and we have nothing.” At the same time, the Minister did acknowledge that this was a two way street, and that the Bahamas had perhaps dropped the ball when it came to making the island a place people wanted to spend their time, let alone money.
“We have a duty to improve our product,” he said, “but when we do, we want the cruise ship lines to be a little fairer” with regard to the flow of money. “The situation as it is now is unsustainable with the way it is structured. The cruise ship companies come in now and make all the money, and we have nothing.”
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The paper reported that this conversation arose due to complaints allegedly made by local businesses unhappy because shore excursions desks aboard visiting ships often “direct passengers to [patronize] certain land-based businesses when the ships arrive.” The story also claims that some cruise lines “dictate the margins and mark-ups that Bahamian-owned businesses can earn, impacting their ability to generate profits and survive.”
D’Aguilar says that situation must change. “You’re not going to come to this destination and be greedy, and get it all for yourself.” He acknowledges, however, that the port needs to work harder to make itself attractive to travelers. “When they come here, there’s less and less interesting things for them to do. It’s a product we should not be proud of.”
What could the Bahamas do to make the island a bigger draw to cruise passengers?