The case was made before, mega cruise ships aren’t the answer to reviving tourism. We simply can’t compete on volume and need to include the tax cruise ships place on our infrastructure when considering whether they are a net add to our tourism industry.
It is increasing becoming clear that we managed the problems caused by the influx of cruise ships by throwing money at the problem, money we did not have. Our bus schedules were heavily reliant on lucrative overtime pay to maintain the chaos that includes thousands of tourists flooding our transit network. Now that the funding has dried up and we’re forced to cut costs, the system is decending into chaos.
The evidence is mounting to support our warnings of a few years ago that the model does not work. It is important to ask what impact cruise ships have and whether we should be in the volume tourism business or not. Volume tourists means they pack our streets, pack our buses, pack our best beaches and strain our infrastructure and yet because they’re here on volume, they expect ‘discount’ to be included.
The tourist paying $600 a night to stay at a hotel gets second class treatment when our best beaches are packed, buses are full, taxies huddle around the cruise ships but are absent elsewhere and businesses cheapen their products trying to cater to discount. We offer a poorer product which simply cannot compete with larger islands who can manage discounted volume tourism. It damages our product and our reputation to trade for short term gains in visitor statistics for long term declines in visitor spending. Thus we reiterate our calls to go for quality over quantity and focus on providing the best product, not the cheapest.