Executives of Global Ports Holding Plc (GPH) participated in several government-endorsed stakeholder meetings last week to discuss community benefits and opportunities available for collaboration through the highly anticipated St. Lucia Cruise Port project. The partnership between the Government of Saint Lucia and GPH – the world’s largest independent cruise port operator – includes a 30-year concession agreement for cruise-related operations at Castries and Soufriere Bay.
Under the agreement, GPH will upgrade Berth 1 at Pointe Seraphine to accommodate Oasis-class ships – the largest cruise ships in service – which will assist in increasing cruise passenger volume to St. Lucia from its annual peak of 790,000 passengers to over one million per year.
The award-winning port operations firm will also reduce traffic congestion and improve the guest experience in and around Castries Harbour by introducing new ferries and ferry routes to Banannes Bay, LPC, and Pointe Seraphine. This initiative will include adding new ferry and docking facilities at those locations and the construction of a seaside boardwalk. GPH will make further investments in the expansion of cruise port infrastructure and cultural & heritage tourism sites through development of the Fisherman’s Village, Vendor’s Arcade, and Soufriere Bay to create more opportunities for the community.
In addition to these significant infrastructure and experiential enhancements, GPH will provide substantial financial relief to the Government of Saint Lucia and the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Port Authority (SLASPA) by taking over approximately US$20 million in SLASPA debt.
As a destination, St. Lucia will benefit from extensive cross-marketing opportunities to more than 18 million passengers that flow annually through the 26 cruise ports within the worldwide GPH network.
“We’re extremely excited to work with key stakeholders across the Saint Lucian cruise and tourism sectors, said Colin Murphy, GPH Head of Business Development, Americas. We have received such a warm welcome and very positive responses from the groups we’ve spoken to. We recognize that establishing strong relationships with key stakeholders is a critical part of ensuring that this partnership is successful for everyone, which is why we made having these conversations our immediate priority after signing the Memorandum of Understanding.”
Last week, Mr. Murphy, and Dr. Sean Matthews, GPH Business Development Advisor, met with executives of SLASPA; tour operators including Cox and Company St. Lucia; Brian Louisy, Executive Director of the St. Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture; executives of the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association; and the leadership of Invest Saint Lucia.
The duo also began brief interactions with taxi drivers and met with the Soufriere Fisherman’s Cooperative Society.
“Over the last few days, we’ve shared our ideas and received great feedback about the needs and wants of the community and the things that we need to consider,” Murphy explained. “We know that there is a lot of work to do, but we also know that we can’t do it alone. Your success is our success, and recognizing that, everyone’s voice is important. There are many seats at this table.” Dr. Matthews added that “This series of meetings marks the beginning of our community outreach efforts, which will include establishing a consultative committee of key local stakeholders to ensure that the goals of the project remain aligned with the priorities of the Saint Lucian people.
Our aim is to keep the lines of communication open so that we can all work together to achieve our collective mission – to bring more cruise passengers and more opportunities to St. Lucia to benefit our community and all involved in this effort. We need everyone’s participation to make this happen.