The islands’ government has stopped paying ships to come. Instead, it is calling on the cruise lines and other private-sector companies to continue investing in public and private ports and in infrastructure.
Until last year, there was a not-so-secret reason why cruise lines would set course for the Bahamas: They were getting paid to go.
After reaching a certain number of passengers, a cruise line would get a rebate of the $18 departure tax paid on behalf of passengers.
“Some were getting rebates of $6, $7, $10, $12 [per person] based on the number of people they brought,” said Dionisio D’Aguilar, Bahamas minister of tourism and aviation. Together, the cruise lines got back $12 million a year, he said.
But a year ago, D’Aguilar canceled all the incentives, part of a new approach to cruise development that is sweeping the Bahamas and could transform the way tourists perceive the island chain.
Now, the cruise lines have to evaluate cruising to the Bahamas on the merits of the destination.
“So there’s nobody being paid anything to bring anybody to the Bahamas,” D’Aguilar said. “Come if you want to come. Don’t come if you don’t want to come.” Read more >>