WHAT’S BEST FOR EXUMA?: Chamber president notes split views on cruise tourism

WHAT’S BEST FOR EXUMA?: Chamber president notes split views on cruise tourism
An aerial photo of Exuma, Bahamas. (PHOTO: NICK GORDENIER)

Rolle: It’s not the cruise line; it’s the govt that gave permission without consulting stakeholders

EXUMA, BAHAMAS — Exuma Chamber of Commerce President Pedro Rolle said yesterday that there was vocal support for and against Crystal Cruises coming to the island, telling Eyewitness News: “We have to do what’s best for Exuma.”

Crystal Cruises has announced that its Crystal Serenity ship will include Great Exuma on its itinerary for its Bahamas cruise beginning in July.

The announcement has earned some pushback from concerned stakeholders on Exuma.

Exuma Chamber of Commerce President Pedro Rolle.

Rolle told Eyewitness News: “There are differences of opinion on the value of a cruise line into Exuma.

“There is one side that feels as though Exuma has, over the years been developing a nice, high-end clientele who spend lots of money on expensive accommodations. Exuma is an island that benefits a lot from high-end visitors and homeowners. The feeling is that bringing a cruise line in would dilute the market and turn some of those persons away.”

He added: “There are others who are aggressively for the cruise line to come in because they believe the straw vendors, the taxi drivers and the persons who do tours would benefit.

“We have to weigh the issues and do what’s best for Exuma.”

Still, Rolle said that in his view, the cruise line was simply making a business decision and that any opposition should not be directed at the company but those who gave the green light without first consulting local stakeholders.

“I think it is unfair for me to aggressively speak against the cruise line” said Rolle.

The Crystal Cruises Serenity ship.

“They are business people; they see an opportunity, they think they can get a good return in this market and they are pursuing it. That’s what business people do.

“I think it is wrong to direct opposition against them. We have to look at the government body that gave them permission to go ahead and do this without first getting permission from the locals.

“We have to look at the pros and cons and not simply make an emotional decision but an informed decision on the matter.”

Harbour Island hoteliers have recently voiced opposition to mass cruise tourism to the destination, which likewise caters to high-end, low-density tourism, in the wake of Crystal Cruises’ announcement.