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News Report: Despite upcoming cruise tax increase, RCI committed to country’s growth

Published by: Chester Robards, June 28th, The Nassau Guardian

Royal Caribbean International (RCI) is committed to growing cruise travel to The Bahamas, despite the government’s intention to raise taxes on the cruise industry, RCIs Chief Product Innovation Officer Jay Schneider said yesterday.

While speaking to reporters following the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers’ Confederation’s (BCCEC) Power Breakfast series, which happened aboard RCI’s Freedom of the Seas cruise ship, RCI’s Chief Product Innovation Officer Jay Schneider said the cruise line’s announcement that its newest ship Utopia of the Seas will feature an all-Bahamian itinerary is proof positive of RCI’s commitment to The Bahamas.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Philip Davis said 95 percent of new government revenue would come from non-Bahamians, as he announced an adjustment in the departure tax for cruise visitors from $18 to $23, for departures from Nassau, Freeport and Bimini, and $25 from all other islands; as well as a tax of $35 for departures from private islands.

Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy called for a delay in the government’s departure tax increases for the cruise industry.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Chester Cooper said last week that the policy will be implemented in January 2024.

Duffy recently said the change would be particularly challenging for the cruise line’s budget travelers.

Schneider said despite the change, RCI is moving full steam ahead with investments in The Bahamas and its planned increase of cruise passengers into the country.

“The announcement of Utopia came out here in The Bahamas yesterday, the day before it came out in the US,” said Schneider.

“Utopia is a great example of how important The Bahamas is to us as a company. I can’t speak for the other cruise lines at all. We are committed to the continued growth of The Bahamas. You heard from me today where we plan on continuing to grow The Bahamas. That’s what our guests want. And so we’re not going to stop growing in The Bahamas.”

RCI recently announced the appointed of well-known businessman Philip Simon as president of its proposed Royal Beach Club project, as well as general manager of Royal Caribbean International Bahamas, which represents RCI’s other interests in the country.

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