Way to woo cruisers
BARBADOS NEEDS “stronger marketing strategies to encourage cruise lines to come to Barbados,” says Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) president David Rice.
Saying he considered this a must in the face of today’s fierce global competition for cruise business, Rice said the island had to provide more attractive cruise terminal facilities and be “more competitive with its fuel pricing for cruise ships”.
He also acknowledged plans to erect a dedicated cruise terminal at the Bridgetown Port. The BTA president spoke following last week’s reports of the pending pull-out of cruise ships Sea Princess and Royal Caribbean’s Serenade Of The Seas from Barbados.
“The crux of this has to be that Barbados has a much stronger position with respect to how we compete in the cruise business and this means in effect not only do we have to offer attractions where people who are here for a limited period of time would be willing to go, but we must also make sure they are open and that the shopping is open,” he said.
With reference to the loss of the two cruise liners, Rice questioned whether Barbados had created “the best relationships with our cruise lines”.
He said since ship schedules were done in advance, in most instances two years ahead, there was little opportunity to replace a lost contract in one year.
“From the cruise perspective, we really need to look at it and make sure that we are coming up with a very strategic plan for the next two years in order to try to reverse the trend, because now is the time to be able to get some of the cruise lines to make a decision about what they are going to do going forward,” Rice said.
According to him, BTA had made adjustments before the pull-outs were announced, including building a website primarily for the cruise segment and hiring someone to work exclusively on cruise business.
However, Rice pointed out that the process of cruise marketing was “almost secondary to what the Port does in terms of dealing with contracts for the ships”.