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Low vaccination rate affecting cruise industry

The Seabourn Odyssey was forced at the last minute to call off its visit to the Spice Isle

Grenada’s low Covid-19 vaccination rate is beginning to hurt the island’s cruise passenger business.

THE NEW TODAY has seen communication from local agent, Geo. F Huggins & Company which indicated that it was forced to call off Saturday’s visit of the Seabourn Odyssey, the first cruise ship to sail into Port St. George with passengers since the coronavirus pandemic hit the island in March 2020.

Huggins told stakeholders in a letter that the ship was no longer coming to Grenada because of a decision taken “by the Government of Grenada and Ministry of Health to cancel (the) call to Grenada due to the low vaccination rate”.

Health Minister Nickolas Steele did not answer the telephone call made by THE NEW TODAY earlier in the day on the issue.

However, the cancellation of the visit of the Seabourn has left many players in the cruise ship business upset and angry.

Tourist vendors who sell spices on the Cruise Ship Terminal on Melville Street in the city are up-in-arms against the Keith Mitchell-led administration for cancelling the visit of the ship.

According to one vendor, she rolled out over EC$500.00 to buy fresh spices and souvenir items to sell to the incoming cruise passengers and she does not know what to do now with the items on her hand.

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“I will never support them (the NNP government) again,” said the vendor.

A taxi operator complained that he spent thousands of dollars to do repair work on his bus to bring it up to date as he has been doing tours for several years now on contract with Huggins.

“I was depending on that money from the tour to feed my family,” he told THE NEW TODAY.

An official of Huggins said that all the passengers and crew on board the Seabourn Odyssey are fully vaccinated and could not understand the reason given by government for cancelling the ship’s visit.

The Mitchell-led government has publicly stated that it is not in favour of passing legislation in Parliament to dictate mandatory vaccination in the fight against the deadly Covid-19 virus.

However, it has ordered all hotels to ensure that their employees are fully vaccinated as part of a State policy for the re-opening of the hotel industry.

Government is also said to be giving tacit support to those private sector businesses that have instituted mandatory vaccination for their staff.

There are reports that only a third of the 70% that is required for herd immunity, have at least received one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine which is the only one available on the local market.