11 Oct 2023
(Castries, St. Lucia, September 27, 2023)— Executives of Global Ports Holding (GPH), the world’s largest cruise port operator, confirmed that they expect to complete the Saint Lucia Cruise Port Investment Project within two years once construction begins.
Dr. Sean Matthew, GPH Business Development Advisor, explained at a press conference held in Saint Lucia last week that the public will begin to see construction vehicles mobilized by Q1 2024 pending approval by The Development Control Authority (DCA). The media event was one of a series of activities, including a highly anticipated stakeholder reception, hosted by GPH last week since the London-based company signed a 30-year agreement with the Government of Saint Lucia in August.
Dr. Matthew described the team’s plans to undertake a phased approach to the redevelopment effort, noting that the design and development process with the government is ongoing. “Our commitment is for total spend and for total infrastructural development that has been agreed to by both parties through our design and submission to the government.” The scope of the project includes work to be completed at Pointe Seraphine, the Vendors Arcade and other facilities in Castries, Bananes Bay, and Soufriere. Twenty million dollars of the project budget will be allocated to alleviate debt accumulated by the Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority (SLASPA).
He then provided more details about several significant benefits that the redevelopment will provide to Saint Lucia. “At Pointe Seraphine, we are going to improve the berthing capacity and strength to accommodate the largest vessels in the world, which can carry up to 6,500 passengers and 2,500 crew. We will also straighten the berth at Port Castries and introduce several tender jetties in Castries and Bananes Bay.”
Another issue that GPH is committed to resolving is traffic management, particularly in consideration of the additional passengers that the bigger vessels will bring. “One of the initiatives that we’ve planned, since the project includes Bananes Bay, is to have proper-sized ferries take people across, then they can take their tours from Bananes Bay to Soufriere and other places. We don’t utilize these types of advantages yet – moving large groups of people by sea to participate in tours and excursions - because it’s just not organized and structured yet. We want to create this advantage.”
“In Port Soufriere,” he noted, “there are two existing berths, one is a finger pier and one an L- shape. Both of them are in a state of disrepair. We are required to repair it, and reinstate its use, but with that, we are going to increase its berthing capacity by a minimum two-fold on the L-shape. We are also putting some additional tender jetties right through the Baron’s Drive area to provide additional berthing capacity for smaller vessels. There is also an area where we intend to place an amphitheatre to truly create a memorable experience that will be unique to Soufriere.” Dr. Matthew added that GPH plans to provide safety cameras and related equipment to the Soufriere Marine Management Association (SMMA) to support the community’s goals.
When asked about local staffing plans, he emphasized that Saint Lucia Cruise Port, the local company created by GPH, will be managed by an all-Saint Lucian team. “We have no expectation for a third-party foreigner to come in and tell you about your product. We know the product and therefore, we need a Saint Lucian to develop it.” GPH intends to announce several new hires shortly.
Daren Cenac, CEO of SLASPA, expressed the government’s expectation that GPH will meet its two-year completion deadline once the physical work begins. “Saint Lucia needs to improve our cruise tourism product as quickly as possible because our competitors in the region are not just sitting by. A partner like GPH really embraces our vision to modernize cruise-related services in Saint Lucia. We are keeping very close tabs on our partner to ensure that they deliver within the expected timeframe.”
Mr. Cenac added that “We have seen where they have undertaken works within a certain period of time in the region and they have delivered, which speaks to their global experience. We are confident that they will deliver to the people of Saint Lucia, to the government, and to SLASPA on time.”