The gist of the story is that the independent taxi and tour operators have been pushed outside the Port Authority fence. That makes it hard for them to sell their services over the operators like Trius Tours which is next to the gangplank the tourists walk down.
Ron Switzer explained to us on Thursday that he didn’t make the rules. The Port Authority contracts with Atlantic Cruise Ship Services who in turn contract with the cruise ship lines.
Atlantic Cruise Ship Services has contract
The cruise ships make 40% of their profit by selling liquor on the boat and taking a healthy slice of the on-shore services like tours. That is industry practice.
Excluding the private operators gives the licensed operators, who kick back to Atlantic Cruise and the cruise lines, a leg up on getting clients. Somehow, in past years, the independents were allowed inside the gate.
The process to get licensed takes up to 2 years and Atlantic Cruise Ship is picky who they contract with. That seems to play in Switzer’s favour since he is both part of the management that contracted with Atlantic Cruise and they granted him one of those contracts for his Hippo Tours.
You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours is how that looks. Les Parsons manager of the Port Authority sees no conflict of interest and why should he. The system at the Charlottetown
Port is riddled with corruption.
Guess who’s coming to dinner?
Atlantic Cruise Ship Services holds the lion’s share of the on-shore services at Charlottetown. The company is owned by Maritime Travel. The CEO and Chairman of the Board on Maritime Travel is Robert P. Dexter, QC. He’s a director of both companies.
We checked their ownership. Lo and behold Atlantic Cruise Ships is owned by Robert P. Dexter who controls the largest Provincial Nominee Program intermediary, Canadian International Capital.
How did that happen?
Isn’t that cute. Atlantic Cruise ships brag about pushing tin on $650 million in PNP money and now they control the small tour operators in Charlottetown’s port. Management like Switzer have no trouble getting business. Nor does Trius Tours which is heavily subsidized by the Ghiz Liberal government.
The rich and powerful know no limits to their desire for wealth. Beating up and stealing a meal from little people is all in a day’s work for them.
There is more dirt here and we will keep digging. It takes a lot of corruption to get things on and off a wharf. Those tourists just want to have a good time. How could they know?
Harbour authority employee in conflict: taxi drivers
– Some independent taxi operators say an employee of the Charlottetown Harbour Authority is in a conflict of interest.
The taxi drivers say Ron Switzer, terminal operations manager, also sells tours on his Harbour Hippo and his two double-decker buses. The drivers say Switzer has threatened to kick them off the harbour authority’s wharf, where they wait to pick up cruise ship passengers.
The drivers further make their case by pointing out their request to Switzer for better access to passengers was denied and so was their request for an awning in the parking lot in case of bad weather.
Although the drivers have outlined their concerns in a letter to the city, none of them wanted to do an interview.
Les Parsons, CEO of the Charlottetown Harbour Authority, said neither he nor the board feels Switzer is in a conflict.
“I can understand where that comes from, but the two buses that are parked here, we’re charging them to park the buses on a daily, monthly basis,” Parsons explained. “In terms of the Harbour Hippo, I don’t know that much about it, but it’s a sanctioned tour operation that goes hand in hand with what’s been sold to the cruise lines.”
Parsons said the taxi drivers only pay $25 a year to park on the wharf, while tour operators like Switzer pay a commission to cruise ship companies.
Parsons said the board will meet within a few weeks to decide if taxi drivers can stay on the wharf — and if so, under what conditions.
Switzer did not wish to do an interview.
Click HERE to read more columns by Stephan Pate.