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(SNO) — Government is moving ahead with plans to establish a major cruise port in the south of the island in line with the multi-million-dollar ‘Pearl of the Caribbean’ project after two government officials met Carnival Corporation & plc, the British-American cruise operator that is currently the world’s largest travel leisure company, with a combined fleet of over 100 vessels across 10 cruise line brands.
In a Facebook post, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said on Tuesday, Sept. 18, he and Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee met with a “high level” delegation which included Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Carnival Corporation, Arnold Donald.
Chastanet said they met at Moule A Chique “where there is a panaromic view of the Vieux Fort Bay”, and that the meeting “advanced” plans for the construction of the “new Cruise Terminal at IL Pirata”.
Fedee also wrote a similar post on his Facebook page about the meeting, which he said advances plans for the construction of the cruise port in the south.
Neither Fedee nor Chastanet disclosed additional details in their Facebook posts, but a senior government source told our newsroom that the ministers plan to release more information in the near future, particularly on the progress of the talks with the investors and the cruise operator.
Carnival Corporation’s Vice President, Global Ports and Caribbean Government Relations, Marie McKenzie, was also among the delegation that met with Fedee and Chastanet.
Government believes that a major cruise port in Vieux Fort will complement economic initiatives it has planned for the south, particularly the US$2.6 billion Pearl of the Caribbean project which is underway with the first-phase construction of the horse racetrack and stables.
According to officials, the project, which is being undertaken by Hong Kong-based Desert Star Holdings (DSH) in partnership with the government, also includes a marina, casino, resort, shopping mall complex, entertainment venues, waterfront villas and apartments. All of this on 700 acres of land near Hewanorra International Airport.
Chastanet told reporters earlier this year that a port facility in the south will bring economic benefits to communities such as Soufriere, Dennery, Laborie and Choiseul. He said a cruise port will enable people in these four constituencies to start new businesses catering to the tourists which will increase employment opportunities and boost economic activity in other sectors.
The cruise port is also part of government’s efforts to enhance St. Lucia’s competitiveness in the cruise and yachting industry.
On February 18 this year, Saint Lucia welcomed its first mega cruise vessel to its shores, MS Eurodam 2008, of the Holland America fleet, carrying about 2000 passengers.
At the time, it was the first plaque-exchange ceremony to take place on board a vessel at the newly-extended Dolphin berth at Point Seraphine, since its formal opening on Jan. 13.
Government, on behalf of the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA), had borrowed US$15 million from the National Insurance Corporation (NIC) to extend the berth at Pointe Seraphine to facilitate the docking of mega cruise vessels,
“This is a global initiative on the part of the government to look to the international arena to see how Saint Lucia can maintain its position and be able to offer two world class facilities, one in the north and one in the south, that will attract international business and place Saint Lucia as the number one cruise ship destination in the Caribbean,” Minister for Infrastructure, Ports, Energy and Labour, Stephenson King said at a parliament sitting in 2017.