Ushuaia tourism industry demand retraction on ban to UK flagged cruises or coming from Falklands
The president of the Ushuaia Chamber of Tourism again called Tuesday on the Governor of Tierra del Fuego Fabiana Rios to retract from interpreting the ‘Gaucho Rivero’ bill in a way that bars British or convenience flagged cruise vessels from docking in Ushuaia.
Marcelo Lietti said the controversial bill “only applies to those vessels linked to fishing and hydrocarbons activities, not tourism”, and recommended that “the province (of Tierra del Fuego) aligns with the national government’s foreign policy”.
“This would be the quick solution to the controversy taking into account the substantial turn in the issue following on President Cristina Fernandez speech to Congress”, added the president of the Tourism chamber.
However if the provincial government does not retract the tourist industry is prepared to present their demands to the Legislative (amend the bill) and to the Judiciary so that magistrates clearly interpret abidance of the questioned Gaucho Rivero bill.
“The provincial government interpreted the law under pressure from a group of people so we are prepared to help them understand the extent of their responsibility and admit they made a mistake”, said Lietti.
However regarding the sovereignty claim over the Malvinas Islands and the content of the Gaucho Rivero bill, Lietti said “it is perfect in its essence” since it refers to vessels operating in the Malvinas continental platform and involved in exploration and exploitation of natural resources.
Lietti said that the Argentine president speech last week before the Argentine congress was categorical in two issues: provinces must align behind State policies referred to sovereignty and international relations and UN treaties and conventions” and must limit themselves “to ban those activities linked to fisheries and oil”.
Last week Governor Rios, allegedly under strong pressure from Malvinas war veterans groups yielded and invoked the Gaucho Rivero bill to turn back two cruise vessels with British or convenience flags scheduled to call in Ushuaia. The ‘Star Princess’ was carrying 2.850 passengers and the “Adonia”, over 700 and they were both sailing from the Falklands, part of the normal South Atlantic tour.
The decision was bitterly protested by the Ushuaia tourism industry since cruise vessels are probably the city’s main source of income and jobs. The city has made great efforts to become a cruise vessels’ hub displacing neighbouring Punta Arenas in Chile.
The statements come ahead of March 8, when the Star Princess is (was) scheduled to again call in Ushuaia, but according to the local agents have not requested to dock.
Meanwhile members of the tourism chamber have been meeting with the Malvinas war veterans to explain the extent of the interpretation of the bill (and ban) made by Governor Rios.
“We are having a very good dialogue but they confess not having a unified position regarding the ban, yet; there’s a growing majority that believe the bill must be interpreted as we do, it does not involve cruise vessels”, said Hernan Quesada from a local tourism agency.
Quesada said the veterans asked for a couple more of days but “we can’t remain put: the next options are the Legislature and the Judiciary and we are working on both”.
“For us the tourism industry is not at risk. The bill is plain clear, but since the criterion is wide, anything can happen. We have already resigned to the Port Advisory Council: if we are not going to be consulted or they are not interested in our opinion, why bother, so we walked out”, said Quesada.