Barbados enjoys vibrant cruise tourism market


BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Despite prolonged contraction in major tourism source markets, Barbados is projected to record a 10 percent increase in cruise passenger arrivals by the end of 2009.

Based on confirmed ship commitments for December, along with relatively vibrant business for the first 11 months of the year, the destination is expected to welcome around 750,000 cruise passengers by the end of the year, recording an improvement over 2008.

Close to 10,000 of these passengers are expected on island on one day, Boxing Day, when five ships are scheduled to drop anchor at the Bridgetown Port. Those ships expecting to generate a hive of activity around the City are Sea Princess, Explorer, Millennium, Crystal Serenity and Royal Clipper.

Director of Operations at Foster and Ince Cruise Services, Robert Hutson, also reported that both the airport and the seaport would be busy on Saturday December 26 as the fly/cruise programme will be in operation, moving European passengers to and from the Sea Princess.

Additionally, local partners of the cruise sector have been generally optimistic about the 2009-10 cruise season, which will run from October 2009 until April 2010. This started on a high note following the recently concluded 16th FCCA conference in St Lucia, where meetings were held with executives of leading cruise lines.

Industry reports have also been pointing to an anticipated 2010 turnaround in major markets hit by recession and continued aggressive marketing by cruise lines, pushing attractive prices and the value for money proposition.

Minister of International Business and International Transport, George Hutson, who attended the FCCA conference, said Barbados was optimistic of sustaining strong business in 2010 and efforts were on to devise strategies to encourage cruise passengers to spend more on the island.

The Minister further said that Barbados was seriously looking to attract greater business in the traditionally slow summer period, when most ships reposition from the Caribbean to Europe and the Mediterranean.

“That is one of the reasons why we find the South American market so attractive. Winter in the southern hemisphere coincides with summer in the north and if we can attract visitors from the south at this time it would mean year-round business for us,” said Hutson.

The Minister said Government was serious in its efforts to develop markets in South America, both for long-stay visitors and cruise traffic, and encouraged private sector partners to join the effort.