By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Staff Reporter
EVEN though hundreds of cruise passengers visit Grand Bahama weekly, the Port Lucaya Marketplace struggles to attract guests.
Straw vendors at the marketplace claim cruise passengers are being discouraged from visiting the area, a claim Carnival, the largest cruise line visiting Freeport, denies.
PLM director Ivan Moss said yesterday that management had expressed concerns to the Ministry of Tourism, the cruise ships, tour operators, the taxi union, and the Grand Bahama Port Authority.
On Monday, Carnival Dream and Carnival Sunshine brought over 7,000 passengers to Freeport.
Scieka Jones, marketing and entertainment manager at the marketplace, said only one busload of guests from the harbour carrying a maximum of 60 people showed up to the marketplace.
Ms Jones said there are 129 vendors, not including the retail shops, restaurants and bars.
“Right now, we are operating below occupancy,” she said. “Some tenants left after the pandemic, some are still trying to stay afloat, and some had to close up shop because of the economy.”
Mr Moss said steps had been taken to attract visitors to the marketplace, including putting a booth at the harbour, providing live entertainment, and advertising.
He said the marketplace spent much money on entertainment, but guests do not show up.
He said sometimes boaters from the marina appear during bad weather or when a ship makes an unexpected stop.
Mr Moss said the booth at the harbour is not helping because drivers who pick up passengers take them elsewhere while collecting a stipend.
“We are hoping that the hotel and marina will open pretty soon so we can have some stability,” he said, referring to the Grand Lucayan resort.
As a result of the decrease in business, Mr Moss said tenants have been offered discounts. Vendors currently pay $100 per month.
Ms Jones, meanwhile, said Margaritaville, which provides ferry service to Freeport, has been very supportive of the marketplace.
“But the bigger ships, the Carnivals, we are not seeing it,” she said.