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Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony has pointed fingers at former tourism minister and leader of the United Workers Party (UWP) for what he says is his change of heart regarding the cruise sector.
Speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony accused Allen Chastanet of changing from being against growth in cruise tourism to supporting the sub-sector. The prime minister based his accusation on what he said were various conversations he held with the former minister, who at the time had continuously complained about growth in the sector.
“In the period between 1997 and 2006 when the former minister of tourism Senator Allen Chastanet had my ear, one of the things he condemned ruthlessly without compunction was the cruise sector. Every time I had a meeting with him [he said] ‘Mr. Prime Minister , you must do something about the cruise sector… Mr. Prime Minister it is unfair, the competition between the cruise sector and the hotel sector is unfair and something has to be done about cruise tourism’,” Dr. Anthony said.
“I would plead and say you have to realise that hundreds of taxi drivers and vendors rely on the cruise sector for survival. Not to forget that you have endless persons with sites and attractions … ,” he added.
Dr. Anthony, in that regard, questioned Chastanet, asking: “So what is this sudden conversion supporting the cruise sector when you have fought against it for life… and what kind of patriotism is this, that in this time of difficulty and hardship that you are by your public statements deliberately attempting to discourage cruise ships from coming to our harbour to assist our taxi drivers?”
The prime minister further called on the opposition to put history behind and “see whether we can get this country out of the rut”.
He said while there will be disagreements over policy thrust and direction, some common ground must be reached on matters that pertain to the country’s development.
Former Minister for Tourism and current Deputy Prime Minister, Philip J. Pierre, also came in defense of Dr. Anthony’s claims, stating that when he served as minister of tourism and Chastanet in the Hotel and Tourism Association, Chastanet had repeatedly spoken against incentives granted to the cruise sector.