(PRESS RELEASE) — One day after chairman of the St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP), Dr Terrance Drew urged the Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Government to inform the nation of the likely economic impact that the COVID-19 virus would have on the local economy, four major cruise ships announced the suspension of their itineraries to the federation students at a major off-shore medical school began leaving after they were given the option to return to their overseas homes and complete the semester online.
Dr Drew, the NextGen SKN candidate for St Christopher 8 at a Labour Party press conference on Thursay expressed concern that Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr the Hon Timothy Harris had failed to inform the nation of the negative impact that COVID 19 will have on the St Kitts and Nevis economy.
“Apart from the health aspect, the other thing that should have been done is the economic impact that would come and so far I have not seen a response to deal with the economic impact. Already we see flights are being cancelled and cruise ships are being turned back. Therefore, it means there will be a significant economic impact,” said Dr Drew, who has been calling for sound mechanisms and protocols to be drawn up to confront the liklihood of the virus reaching St Kitts and Nevis.
In what is seen as a double whammy on Friday 13, Black Friday, four major cruiselines – Royal Caribbean, Carnival, MSC Cruises and the Norwegian Cruise Line, announced they were halting trips to St Kitts and Nevis and other Caribbean destinations until April as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. This will result in significant loss of business to taxi and tour operators, hair braiders, souveni vendors, restauranteurs, storekeepers, and other tourism stakeholders.
The departure of the students for the Robert L Bradshaw International Airport on Saturday and the days ahead will result in reduce spending on food, gasolene, electrity, water, rental income and other related services.
The suspension of the cruise ship itineraries comes four days after Minister of Tourism, Hon Lindsay Grant told Loop, a regional media house that tourists are arriving in St Kitts and Nevis in droves while some islands have reported a decrease in visitor arrivals and a marked increased in cancelled/postponed bookings since the coronavirus first made its way to the Caribbean.
Minister Grant made the statement despite several cancellations since the 2019/2020 cruise ship season began which had already reflected a significant drop in cruise ship arrrivals and passengers compared to the 2018/2019 season.