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Do it for visitors


Marlon Madden

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More than 10 000 cruise passengers from seven cruise ships are expected to descend on Barbados on January 21 but they could face a collective closed-to-business sign unless retailers ignore the public holiday on that Saturday.
And in an effort to avoid a repeat of what happened on January 2 when 5 000 cruise passengers arrived in The City that looked more like a ghost town, Martin Ince, chief executive officer of Foster & Ince Cruise Services, has appealed to all retailers to open on Errol Barrow Day.  
“Everybody runs their own business [but] we certainly would encourage all the retailers in Bridgetown to be open on that day.
“It is going to be an extremely busy day on the island. I think it will probably be our busiest day for this cruise season.
“It just so happens that the day [is] a public holiday,” said Ince.
Foster & Ince Cruise Services will be managing five of the vessels – Azura, Norwegian Dawn, Celebrity Constellation, Saga Pearl II and Royal Clipper. The other two are the Freewinds and Wind Spirit.
Over 3 500 crew are also expected on January 21.
The big cruise day comes against worries among tourism officials that next cruise season would see a drastic fall-off in both the number of cruise calls and cruise passengers to Barbados.
However, Ince told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that the current cruise season was “a very strong” one.
“The concern is for the future, where we will see some declines,” he said.
“[January 21] is going to be a very busy day in Barbados. I have not heard from a retail standpoint but certainly the Cave Shepherd group, on very busy days, would normally open,” said Ince.
He said while he was not aware of any protocol between store operators and Government as it relates to public holidays, Ince said that “normally the market force would determine” whether businesses operated.
Lalu Vaswani, senior vice-president of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said: “It is also very gratifying to note that members of the duty-free sector have always responded positively by making sure that their stores are open on Sundays and public holidays to facilitate commerce and trade with visitors to our island.
“Wherever we can generate foreign exchange, we should come together to facilitate that.”
Meanwhile Celeste Foster, president of the Small Business Association (SBA), said she was not aware that so many passengers were about to visit the country.
Going forward, she said, the SBA planned to form better relationships with various entities – including the Bridgetown Port – so that its members could benefit.

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