Mon | Dec 5, 2022

Barbados looks to cushion small cruise interests

Published:Wednesday | September 14, 2022 | 12:09 AMJanet Silvera/Senior Gleaner Writer

GRAND CAYMAN, Cayman Islands:

The Barbados government is to establish a cooperative aimed at protecting the interests of smaller stakeholders of the flourishing cruise tourism sector.

Responding to the trickle effect cruise tourism could have on small enterprise operators in her country, Tourism Minister Lisa Cummins said plans were already in place to finance a cooperative, in addition to the payment of insurance ensuring its sustainability in the first few years.

“The cooperative is specific to the smaller operators, while ensuring we don’t discard the larger players,” Cummins, a senator, told journalists during a Caribbean Tourism Organisation press briefing on Monday at the Ritz-Carlton in Grand Cayman.

The cooperative is a direct buffer to cruise lines, which corral on-board revenue by selling pre-booked tours, food and beverages, and transportation, leaving little opportunity for some land-based players to cash in.

Cummins said that stakeholders should face the reality that cruise operators do not want to leave money on the table.

She said that cruise spend was overwhelmingly linked to shore excursions, 90 per cent of which is booked online.

“So we have to be able to look at what their business model is, and have our interventions targeted towards a business model that allows there to be earnings in a domestic economy,” the tourism minister said.

Plans are in place to host a dedicated session on September 23 engaging manufacturers, producers, and agro-processors in a provisioning seminar.

By October 10, cruise lines will visit Barbados to meet with the operators on their offerings, the minister said.

Cummins said the government is also targeting recruitment drives for ship crews.

Already, the government has been involved in one job fair, targeting workers across various salary scales.

With the extension of the winter cruise season by a month, Barbados is expecting to welcome just over 850,000 passengers. Compared to pre-COVID inflows in 2019, which was a banner year, the country will hit more than 90 per cent of its target.

The island welcomed more than 900,000 cruise ship passengers in 2019.

Barbados will also host the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, making Barbados their home for the winter, with 20 sailings into the capital city Bridgetown.

Traditional partners such as MSC, Seaboard, Carnival, and Royal Caribbean will continue to build back the market after their two-year absence.

Cummins was quick to point out that there couldn’t be a conversation about tourism on the island without navigating the challenges of the climate crisis.

Like her Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who has lobbied for action on climate change, which disproportionately affects small and developing states, Cummins spoke of the importance of protecting the environment from the scars of industry and commerce.