It is a cruel irony that Gov. Charles Turnbull announced a meeting with Carnival Cruise Line officials to discuss the Carnival pullout from St. Croix at the same time that Holland America joined the long list of cruise lines canceling its visits to the island. As usual the Turnbull administration is responding with "too little, too late." Perhaps Holland America Cruise Lines, itself owned by Carnival, would not have made such a drastic decision, if the governor had worked to correct the cruise lines' perceptions of St. Croix when the original warning bell sounded.
The solutions to this problem are straightforward, but they require an understanding of the financial and business requirements of both the cruise lines and the territory. The cruise lines want an interesting, safe and enticing destination for their passengers, a destination that drives sales of cruise packages. What we want for St. Croix is a consistent and increasing stream of passengers spending money, thereby sustaining our businesses and employing our people. We must put in place initiatives that will: (1) provide funding through the Economic Development Administration to small businesses so that they can invest in the infrastructure suggested by the cruise lines to enhance the attractiveness of the St. Croix market; (2) establish an intra-agency working group of government departments to address key improvements to "destination" St. Croix; and (3) meet with the senior sales and marketing officials of the cruise lines to determine a joint action plan to attract their ships back to St. Croix. All these areas could have been successfully addressed, and possibly implemented, if the administration had taken seriously the points in the Long-Term Operating Agreement negotiated by the Cruise Ship Task Force, which I co-chaired.
Virgin Islanders understand that governance is not about taking credit for the actions of others or just letting events happen. Strong leadership and good governance require being proactive and anticipating events, correcting circumstances before problems arise, and always serving the best interests of our community. Leadership is sorely lacking in the current administration. This has put us all at financial risk for the near and long-term future.
John de Jongh
Candidate for Governor
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