TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands – The British Virgin Islands signed an agreement Friday with two major cruise ship companies expected to help boost the territory's sluggish cruise tourism sector.
Norwegian Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line promised to deliver a total of 425,000 passengers yearly beginning in 2015 for the next 15 years or pay for lost tax revenues if the quota is not met.
The deal also gives preferential berthing to both cruise lines, a move that angered Carnival. Last year, that company delivered some 53,000 passengers to the territory of 30,000 residents. Carnival said in October that it would cancel its British Virgin Islands itinerary in 2015, but it has since rebooked some of those trips.
Some 340,000 cruise ship passengers visited the territory last year, compared with 571,000 in 2008. Officials blame the decrease partly on an existing dock unable to accommodate larger ships that have gone elsewhere.
The government said the deal could help them obtain funds to lengthen the dock. The bidding process to select a contractor is ongoing and construction is expected to start in upcoming months.