BASSETERRE – The Government of St Kitts and Nevis is implementing policy changes at Port Zante in an effort to deal with tourist harassment and protect the cruise tourism industry.
Minister of Tourism Lindsay Grant disclosed that some cruise lines are indicating that their cruise passengers are complaining about tourist harassment whenever they visit St Kitts and Nevis and this has prompted the Ministry of Tourism to implement measures with immediate effect that will minimise this activity.
“I have been in the job now seven months and I believe I have gotten about 20 letters from the cruise lines about the harassment at Port Zante and what we are going to do at Port Zante to fix it. They have gone probably so far as to say that if we do not fix the problems that we have at Port Zante, they would be prepared to move the ships to other ports that are friendlier to them,” Minister Grant said.
The tourism minister made it clear that the priority now cannot be just the few people who are at Port Zante jostling for business from the tourists, but the protection of the St Kitts and Nevis tourism product.
To address the problem, the minister said that staff from his ministry have met all the stakeholders including taxi drivers, primate (monkey) vendors, storeowners and tour operators and that the majority of them agreed that the problem must be fixed.
“And so we have started a policy initiative. For example, one policy initiative that started on Monday the 12th of October—we’ve decided that the continued use by the store owners at Port Zante of giving the taxi drivers and other persons bands to lure people into their stores, has to cease as of yesterday,” remarked the tourism minister. “…The persons at the front of the stores who are shouting out to visitors and handing out paraphernalia to lure people into stores, that came to an end yesterday,” he added.
Minister Grant said he visited Port Zante with a team from the ministry and spoke to store owners at Port Zante to get their feedback on the policy and so far all except two store owners are in agreement with the policy. Those two storeowners he said reluctantly accepted the new policies. Taxi drivers were also notified that there will be a new policy of dispatching of taxis at Port Zante which, due to time and monetary constraints will be implemented for next cruise tourism season.
Grant assured that measures are in place to have these polices adequately policed. (SKNIS)