British Virgin Islands

Friday, Dec 04, 2020

What Next As U.S Warns Against Cruise Travel

What Next As U.S Warns Against Cruise Travel

The Territory is bracing for the economic fallout from Sunday’s, March 8 decision by the United States to warn Americans against cruise travel.

The U.S State Department issued the travel advisory in response to the coronavirus, COVID-19 which has spread rapidly globally, causing widespread panic and fear.

“U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship,” the U.S State Department warned.

The Caribbean, including the BVI relies heavily on U.S for cruise passengers who made up 54 percent of the industry globally in 2018, according to Cruise Market Watch, which monitors the industry.

On February 26, the BVI took a decision to block the cruise ship, M/V Costa Favolosa, from calling on the Virgin Islands over coronavirus concerns.

“U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, should not travel by cruise ship,” the State Department urged.

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has noted increased risk of infection of COVID-19 in a cruise ship environment. In order to curb the spread of COVID-19, many countries have implemented strict screening procedures that have denied port entry rights to ships and prevented passengers from disembarking.

In some cases, local authorities have permitted disembarkation, but subjected passengers to local quarantine procedures.

“While the U.S. government has evacuated some cruise ship passengers in recent weeks, repatriation flights should not be relied upon as an option for U.S. citizens under the potential risk of quarantine by local authorities,” the State Department informed U.S cruisers.


Financial Fallout

The coronavirus’ impact on cruise tourism is occurring at a time when the BVI is experiencing a surge in the industry following poor performances in the aftermath of the 2017 hurricanes that devastated the Territory.

“Our tourism industry continues to surge as evidenced by official reports from the Government’s Central Statistics Office which note increases of arrivals year over year since the hurricanes of 2017,” Premier and Minister of Finance, Hon. Andrew Fahie.

In the U.S, the big players in the cruise industry are being hit twice.

Amid a broadly plummeting market, shares of Carnival Corp. closed at $21.74 Monday, down from $50 or more in early January.

Royal Caribbean Cruises stock ended the day at $48.27, a sharp fall from $130 or more early this year. Norwegian Cruise Line shares dropped to $19.81 from $58 or more before the health crisis.

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