Cruise tourism chief: Seaweed clean-up “urgent”


St. John’s Antigua- A major player in Antigua & Barbuda’s cruise industry has thrown its full support behind a plan for a national clean-up of the country’s coastline that has been affected by an invasion of the Sargassum seaweed.

President of the Cruise Tourism Association Nathan Dundas is hoping the activity would take place over several days, rather than be confined to just one.

“It’s very important for us to join efforts with the government,” he said. “We’re hoping that it’s not just a one-day event but a couple days event and our members will be very willing to participate in the whole clean-up process because we need the visitors to come on a regular basis here and for them to see the best of our beaches.”

The group joins the Antigua Hotels & Tourists Association, and the Antigua and Barbuda Fishermen’s Co-operative Society Ltd that have already pledged support for the initiative.

“Antigua is viewed as a transit point for the cruise lines. We are not a home port, so most of the passengers who are coming here are looking to enjoy themselves at a local beach and that’s one of the highlights for them,” he pointed out.

“The smell is not going to help much of the beachgoers. It will drive the tourists away from Antigua,” Dundas said further.

The seaweed, which was discovered here several weeks ago, has already begun affecting hotels, with the St James’ Club Resort expected to close temporarily from Saturday. There is indication that other hotels might follow suit.

With the cruise association anticipating in the region of 620,000 visitors during the upcoming season, which begins in October, Dundas said they could be negatively affected by the seaweed.

He has predicted that cruise visitors who come on shore to sample the country’s beaches would stay away because of the stench and unsightliness of the seaweed.

Meantime, the Fisheries Division issued a fact sheet yesterday, stating that the seaweed does not pose an immediate threat to human health.

It said, however, that everyone “must exercise due care and caution if working continuously and directly within its environs.”

According to the division, the seaweed has been brought here by “strong and unusual currents from recent storms,” and could increase as more tropical storms are predicted for this hurricane season.