The TT cruise ship industry and tourism on the whole took a blow to their expected revenues amid growing concerns over the coronavirus (covid19).
Tourism Minister Randall Mitchell revealed on Wednesday that at least one cruise ship was denied entry into TT ports, and several others have cancelled their visits.
“Each cruise ship that lands at the port brings with it tremendous economic value,” Mitchell said.
He said revenue from cruise ships comes through many means, including port fees, head taxes, revenue garnered from tourist tours and the sale of goods and services.
Worldwide, the cruise industry is also suffering as fears over the virus have led to rampant cancellations. One cruise company in Japan has already filed for bankruptcy according to Japanese news sources. Kyodo News said on Monday that Luminous Cruising Co took a massive hit because of concerns over the virus, and its debts, which amounted to about US$11 million, led the company to file for bankruptcy.
According to Japanese news, 706 of the 1,000 confirmed cases in the country came from another cruise liner, the Diamond Princess, which had to be quarantined off the Japanese coast until the end of February.
Of the 12 deaths in Japan,six were one board the cruise ship, according to CARPHA statistics.
Mitchell said the port health unit is the first point of contact for any visitors coming to TT, in accordance with policies set by the Ministry of Health. People coming from the restricted countries – China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, Japan and Singapore – would be subject to a 14-day quarantine before entering the country.
He added the measures are the same for yacht owners who come into the country on their own vessels. He noted. however. that the travel time from island to island on their personal vessels could take them out of the 14-day period for the disease.
While he could not give an exact figure for the losses incurred so far, he said the value pales in comparison the cost to the public health system, and the loss of productivity and confidence in TT’s economy should there be an outbreak.
The minister’s admission comes less than a week after the Prime Minister warned that the virus could not only have an effect on the nation’s health, but also its economy, at a post-cabinet press briefing.
Dr Rowley said government would not turn away any citizen who is abroad and felt the need to come home, but noted they might be subject to quarantine as a precaution.
Concerns over the virus and its effects were raised by state-owned Tourism Trinidad head Heidi Alert, who said in an earlier Newsday report that the country should brace for a “rocky ride,” despite the possibility of the industry benefiting as Americans may seek to travel to the Caribbean for their vacations instead of Europe or Asia.
The latest CARPHA situation report says there are 88,930 cases (5,138 new) worldwide.
In the Caribbean there have been three imported cases in St Barts and one in the Dominican Republic.
A case was also reported in Ecuador and three in Mexico. Brazil continues to have only one reported case.