Sunday, April 21, 2024

‘Promising’ cruise season

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A top tourism official is predicting a significant increase in Barbados’ cruise business this year, but says the private sector needs to step up to the plate to encourage cruise visitors to pull their pockets more.
The director of cruise at the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA), Ryan Blackett, said cruise arrivals were expected to reach the 2011 levels, based on activity expected in the Brdgetown Port.
He disclosed that the cruise ship Serenade Of The Seas, which can carry 2 100 passengers, would be returning this summer. He projected its loads over the period would be responsible for pushing up summer cruise figures “by over 30 000” and said he expected this to result in reversal of the “significant dip” in cruise business seen last year.
While forecasting a promising season for cruise arrivals, Blackett expressed concerned about the amount of money cruise ship passengers were spending in Barbados, saying that the average cruise spend was “dipping” below that of other Caribbean destinations.
Speaking to the BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY shortly after welcoming the Carnival Valor cruise ship on its inaugural visit to Barbados, Blackett called on the private sector to “step up and try to recapture some of that passenger spend.”
“I think as creative marketers we need to look for some ways to extract that tourism dollar. St Thomas, St Maarten, St Kitts are extracting big dollars out of cruise,” Blackett said, adding that Barbados “tends to be doing a little bit of the reverse”.
He advised the Barbados Manufacturers Association and the Barbados Chamber of Commerce “to get on board” to look for innovative ways to get the spend up.
The BTA?official also encouraged the island’s attractions to take advantage of the recently-passed Cruise Ships (Opening of Facilities) Bill which will facilitate longer cruise ship stays in the Bridgetown Port, and allow ships staying after 6 p.m. to open their on-board casinos.
But Blackett warned that Barbados would not see the benefits of the legislation immediately.
He said that in the interim, all the tour attractions that benefit from cruise tourism should be reorganizing to offer a different product which would translate into increased revenues in the long term.
“I would say the attractions now need to get up and get going because the cruise ships will be taking advantage of this in a year’s time, and the attractions have a year-plus time to start planning and putting these mechanisms and this new product in place to meet that time frame,” he said.
Representatives from the United States Embassy, Foster and Ince Cruise Services, the Barbados Manufacturers Association and the Bridgetown Port were welcomed on board by Captain Ettore Bovo with whom there was the traditional exchange of plaques.

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