Continuing high fuel prices continue to create havoc in the airline and cruise industry and are affecting intra-regional travel and cruise passengers to the region, according to outgoing Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Sen. the Hon. Richard “Ricky” Skerritt, who spoke at CTO’s meeting last week.

As reported by the Office of the Prime Minister of St. Kitts & Nevis, Skerrit said that the price of fuel has dramatically impacted both the airlines and the cruise lines that serve the Caribbean region.

“In response to the double whammy of increased taxation and higher fuel costs, airlines have done the natural thing – raised ticket prices, implemented new fees and passed the cost on to passengers. Cruise lines on the other hand, have slowed down their sailing speeds and minimized the use of airline seats in their own travel packages. This has resulted in the stifling of homeporting in our region, new itineraries with shorter cruising distances from more U.S. mainland home-ports and reduced market share for the islands of the southern Caribbean,” said Skerritt, who is also St. Kitts and Nevis’ Minister of Tourism and International Trade.

He disclosed that during the past year, CTO has successfully lobbied the FCCA against any further reduction in summer cruising, which was being caused by increasing redeployment of ships away from the Caribbean to Europe.

As a result, Skerritt added that the FCCA has actively begun exploring ways and means to rebuild summer cruising in our region.