Opposition could rethink cruise ship gambling stance
Shadow Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell yesterday said his party will revisit the issue of gambling on cruise ships if Government comes forward with more information on the subject.
Mr Crockwell said the Opposition rejected legislation to allow in-port gaming two years ago because then Premier and Tourism Minister Ewart Brown was trying to rush it through the House of Assembly without fully explaining why it was necessary.
However, after a third cruise line announced plans to cut its Bermuda schedule, Mr Crockwell suggested the One Bermuda Alliance is open to discussion.
Progressive Labour Party Senator David Burt has said the Opposition should take its share of the blame for the declining cruise industry because it helped block the Prohibition of Gaming Machines Amendment Act in 2009.
Seven PLP MPs also voted against the bill, which was vehemently opposed by anti-gambling groups such as the church community. According to Sen Burt, the legislation was a response to claims from cruise ship companies that their revenue projections were not being met.
Mr Crockwell told a press conference yesterday: “At the time, there was very poor consultation. That legislation was rushed to the House.
“If that’s the reason these cruise ships are pulling out, we can revisit. At the time, they could not answer definitively whether it would result in cruise companies leaving and not coming back to Bermuda. We can’t afford for our cruise industry to suffer the same plight as our air arrivals in the past.”
Princess Cruise Lines this week announced its
Caribbean Princess will make just one trip to Dockyard next year; that came after Carnival Cruise Line’s cancellation of its 2012 Bermuda schedule and Holland America’s move to cancel the
Veendam’s 2013 schedule.
Mr Crockwell told the media: “These blows to the one working arm of the tourism industry are very disturbing. They will cost Bermuda tens of millions of dollars in earnings.
“They will cause job losses and reduced pay cheques. The cancellations also send a signal that Bermuda’s viability as a cruise destination is seriously open to question.
“Against these debilitating decisions, the Government has given no indication it knows what to do. Every announcement of withdrawal seems to have caught it off-guard. It has provided no conclusive reasons for the pull-outs.
“What we do know is that it has been landed with yet another crisis, where before there was none. We call on the Government to provide Bermuda with a full and complete explanation of just what is going on. What is its understanding of the issue? What are its plans for a way forward?
“If it things in-port gambling is the way to go, then let’s hear it. Is there evidence that cruise companies have been unhappy with onshore arrangements and services for their passengers? We need to hear it.”