Sri Lanka luxury yatch cruises run aground for second time
ECONOMYNEXT – Aggressor, an international luxury yatch cruise firm, says its newly started operations in Sri Lanka has run aground for the second time with authorities demanding local crew, despite the lack of experienced hands in the island.
Sri Lanka Aggressor says its crew is manned by Egyptian and other crew with 5-10 years’ experience in live-aboard scuba diving and tourism operations.
The cruise operations were first stymied by demand for a ship classification standard to which most luxury cruise yatch operating in the Red Sea, Thailand or the Maldives are not built, the firm said in September.
Though the issue has since been resolved, the cruises have now been hit by a crew requirement that is also not demanded in other cruise spots, the firm said.
The firm says it brought Egyptian and other foreign crew because staff with adequate experience are not found in Sri Lanka, which lacks a cruise yatch industry.
"Sri Lanka’s Merchant Shipping Secretariat does not recognise…crew and captains certification and will only accept crew with standard certification needed to man International cargo ships, tankers and freight container ships," the firm said.
The firm said it had hired 40 percent Sri Lankan crew and has started to train them.
The firm says if Sri Lanka’s shipping regulator is unwilling to recognise "specialised and experienced crew, the boat cannot be manned and sailed by a Sri Lankan crew and captain with zero experience in deep sea scuba diving and tourism operations."
A company official said the firm brought high-end tourists to the island who were put up in 5-star hotels when they are ashore.
The firm says it is willing to hire Sri Lankan staff, but they are not available. Even Sri Lanka’s regulator was not able to help them hire a 5-star Sri Lankan chef as there were no chefs certified by the Merchant Shipping Secretariat.
Sri Lanka does not have an active yachting industry despite being surrounded by water. The problems over high-end tourism comes as the country is trying to move up the value chain. The last administration tried to start casinos to draw high-end tourists.