CHARLOTTE AMALIE, St. Thomas -- The Caribbean Tourism Organization
(CTO) delayed any decision at its recent 26th Annual Caribbean
Tourism Conference (CTC-26) here on its call for a $20 per person
CTO officials said they will seek feedback from the cruise
industry before voting on the issue.
Wilchcombe said discussion of the tax has been only informal and
that the CTO "is very flexible about how high the tax would be if
approved. We don't want to hurt the industry. All of us realize the
cruise industry is vital to our growth and development. It could be
$100. It could be $10. It could be nothing."
No date has been set for further discussions, although
Wilchcombe indicated they could take place before the end of the
year or early in 2004.
Michael Ronan, director of destination development for Royal
Caribbean International, who served as a panelist at a cruise
industry workshop during CTC-26, said that the cruise industry
"would much prefer to sit in a room with the key decision makers
and talk about what we can do to better address the concerns of the
Meanwhile, CTO chairman Obie Wilchcombe said that he and
Caribbean Hotel Association president Simon Suarez buried their
differences and resolved that "our organizations should have a
meaningful relationship working together to move Caribbean tourism
to the level that we want it to attain."
Wilchcombe's comments referred to a letter sent earlier last
week by Suarez to the CTO, calling for the resignation of the CTO's
secretary general Jean Holder.
Wilchcombe responded by saying that when "it is time to retire,
he [Holder] will do so with dignity and in the true character of a
In an effort to explain his importance to the CTO, Holder
described the complexity of his job in dealing with 30-plus
countries that speak four different languages, "some are
independent, some report to mother countries. In addition we must
interact with airlines, cruise lines, hotels, travel agents,
wholesalers, tour operators and media. Even the United Nations
doesn't have this complexity and I've been doing it for 39
Holder said that private sector members want their share of
benefits "but don't put anything on the table in the way of funds.
We feel that what we do is useful and extraordinary. If the record
does not speak for itself, then that's it."
To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].