One reason for this low arrival rate could be blamed on the failure of Congress to reform the Organic Law of the Guatemalan Institute of Tourism (INGUAT), which would eliminate the current tax of $ 10 charged to each cruise passenger.
On the subject, news portal Newsinamerica.com published comments from Karina Velasquez, Manager of Social Communication at INGUAT, "The cruise lines call to learn about current status of the country and benefits in docking here, but the news is not good at all because of the imposed tax to tourists.”
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Guatemala's Cruise Liner season begins today, with the arrival to Port Quetzal of 'Norwegian Pearl', a 2.500 passenger ship.
100 ships are expected to visit the country in the 2009/10 season; 50 are already confirmed at port Santo Tomás de Castilla.
"This cruise ship seasons comes at a key moment for the tourism industry, which is struggling to overcome a 11.5% decrease in revenue", reported Elperiodico.com.gt.
The tourism sector expects over 70,000 visitors during the 2011/12 season.
Nicaraguan ports are preparing to receive the first cruise ship tourists since October is traditionally the month in which cruises begin.
Despite the fact that fewer ships are expected this year, since they will be larger the number of people visiting is predicted to be similar to previous years.
Cruise ship "Serene of the Seas" will be the first vessel of the company visiting Guatemala.
It is scheduled to arrive to Puerto Quetzal on October 9.
"It will be the fourth vessel of the current cruise ship season, which started on October 1st", reports Guatemalan paper Prensa Libre.
During the next season that starts in October 15, 180 cruise ships will anchor in the Colon 2000 terminal.
For the current nine-month season (October-10 June-11) two cruise ships will depart from this terminal: the Ocean Dream, by Spanish company Pullmantur, and the Grandeur of the Seas, by Royal Caribbean.