Kiss cruise ships goodbye

Inspired by Doug Lansky key-note speaker @ the last AHATA general meeting

During the last AHATA general meeting a travel writer, keynote speaker and thought-leader on tourism sustainability, innovations, trends and destination development, Doug Lansky, spoke to the membership and offered a few forward-thinking ideas.

He stated that cruise tourism represents about 50% of all Caribbean tourists but results in just 8% of tourist revenue.

The message was clear: They are not spending.

His research shows that over 80% of a cruise ship passenger’s discretionary spend is on board.

The cruise ships companies hog all the cash, declining to share it with the destination.

So, while they do not spend any money on shore, they require services in the form of water/fuel, trash removal, and en route harm the ocean with oily bilge water and sediment that damages reefs and water clarity. And just think about their emissions, that equals to 1 million cars per day.

According to Lansky, they are more trouble than they are worth it, they want everything for free and the legend that cruise passengers fall in love with Aruba and return as overnight tourism, is indeed a legend.

Then Lansky asked: Can we earn more without cruise ships?

And suggested to stand up to them, quoting examples of countries around the world who cracked down on the abuse of polluting and disrupting ships, limiting their access to world-class sites.   

Last year I already talked about the beach situation, when cruise ships come in, and that perhaps we should limit their access to one ship a day instead of three.

We only need one, a good one, not three avalanches of non-spending visitors.

As it stands, we cannot handle the multiple ship visits, it overcrowds the few attractions we have. Too many people at tiny Alto Vista, too many people at Conchi, and at 3 trapi, too many off-road vehicles, Aruba doesn’t need all that cruise ship traffic, because it doesn’t contribute to the economy as much as it disrupts it.

And it disrupts the beach experience of our overnight stay visitors who pay top dollar for serenity on a lounge. 

Less cruise ships, less pirate taxis, less pirate tour guides, less flea markets.

The message of Lansky was that we can crack down on the multitudes, and that we should decide on a carrying capacity, a number, and stick to it.

The Basilica de la Sagrada Família, only allows an x number of visitors every day, they reach the number they close their ticket sales.

There can be no long-term success in tourism without management, Lansky said, decide on a carrying capacity, a number, and stick to it.

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January 24, 2020
Rona Coster