“Since shortly after this unfortunate incident and unprecedented incident I must add…I have personally been in constant contact with top cruise industry executives and other key decision makers internationally. I have already informed key cruise executives following a meeting earlier this afternoon, when I learnt of the good news, I have informed them of the good news of the arrest of four individuals and they have welcomed this information,” Skerritt expressed on Tuesday (16th Nov.) at a press conference organised by the Ministry of National Security.
Skerritt told the media that he and his team are working assiduously in an effort to restore the good name of the Federation of St. Christopher and Nevis as a safe tourism destination. He advised however, that this process must involve all if success in this regard, is to be achieved.
“I am confident that there is still a reservoir of good will towards St. Kitts and Nevis in the international tourism markets which will help us to rebuild the long-standing recognition of our federation as a hospitable and safe tourism destination, which of course we all know as Kittitians and Nevisians is reflective of our true heritage and culture. Unfortunately, this incident on Sunday was a direct and hostile attack on our heritage and culture, a direct and hostile attack on our image as a safe, peaceful and friendly nation abroad. So there is going to be a lot that needs to be done to rebuild that reputation.
“I want to call on our own people to understand that each of us has a role in that process and while we can have disagreements, and while we can have our own thoughts on the effectiveness or where appropriate, ineffectiveness of government, that we should remember that we have to fuel the truth and the recognition that our country is in fact made up of the vast majority of people who are caring and welcoming and hospitable.”
Since the incident, two cruise ships cancelled their calls to St. Kitts. Skerritt has indicated however, that no further cancellations of port calls are expected.
Expressing thanks and appreciation to those who have participated in the recovery effort, Skerritt explained that the media’s role has been pivotal.
“While this entire incident has been reprehensible, I must take a moment to say to the local news media how gratified I am from my own reading and listening and searching that you have reported the events factually and that the press coverage regularly cited that this was an unprecedented incident in our Federation and that thousands of people disembarked in St. Kitts and Nevis safely last year to enjoy our many attractions.
“I want to thank the people of St. Kitts and Nevis in general who, as you would have heard, responded very positively to date, to Minister Condor’s address with information and with understanding of the importance of tourism as a key economic driver and for their support in cruise tourism in particular and our wider tourism industry in general. There have been literally dozens of calls of concern just during the course of today and last night since it was announced that the carnival miracle was cancelled today and that princess cruise lines had cancelled their cruise lines for tomorrow.”
The Minister expressed his hope to “never see this type of incident again in our federation” and firm belief that with “all of us working together are now very close to bringing this matter to a much needed close”.