The expected upswing in Cruise ship arrivals this season for Nevis hasn’t happened yet, and in fact has taken a significant dip with almost 4000 fewer passengers coming to Nevis’ shores. Among the big losers are taxi drivers who have made minimal income from the tourist shortfall..
The Cruise Season began on November 8 with Seabourn Odyssey with the capacity of 458 passengers being the first to arrive. This cruise season was expected to have an estimated 100 port calls with more than 20,575passengers expected on board. But as of December 11 only 90 port calls were made with an estimated 16,635 passengers.
Devon Liburd, Director of Sales and Marketing of the Nevis Tourism Authority (NTA) previously boasted the there would be a 119 percent increase compared to last year, a figure that has been proven false so far this season.
The Observer spoke to some taxi operators in Nevis at the beginning of the season, who appeared to be optimistic. That’s not the case now.
Taxi operator Sydney Jeffers said that the first ship that arrived , he did not “even make one dollar”. He said that most of the passenger’s travel to the Pinney’s Beach area and that is as far as they go.
“This week some passengers walked to Pinney’s Beach instead of taking a taxi. People coming off of this boat aren’t rich people so they don t really have money do things like island tours and things like that. I didn’t even make one dollar from the first ship but I made something from the others after,” he said.
In speaking with another taxi operator Oswald Tyson, he noted that the cruise season is still very early and things should pick up next month and added that most of his business thus far for the Cruise season has come from St. Kitts.
“Nothing much has happened yet. For the month I only had four jobs and those mostly came from St Kitts or from Randy (LIME beach bar and Tours). We only had a couple of ships so far, next month we will have a lot more so then we will have much more activity I hope,” he said..
The Observer understands there are about 100 certified taxi operators but only around 35 are working.
President of the Nevis Taxi Association Mrs. Carvel Jeffers Wednesday who noted that talking to other taxi operators the cruise season does not appear to bright.
“Things are not so bright. Not a lot of jobs are coming. Sometimes people just come ashore and they just walk around. Sometimes ships come but they come in all the way at Cades Bay (about 7 miles away from Charlestown) and the tourist come ashore but the taxi men in Charlestown don’t get a job,” she said.
She said that it is believed that the reason for the sudden decrease in arrivals might be that St. Maartin and other islands that had been affected by hurricane Irma and Maria are now well enough recovered to bring visitors to their shores.
“The cruise season is not as good as people would like it to be or as good as they expected it to be,” she said