From left: President of the Caribbean Shipping Association and Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Port Inc., David Jean-Marie, looks on as Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy, accepts a token of appreciation from Vice President of CSA, Juan Carlos Croston.
There has been an increase in the number of cruise vessels docking in the Bridgetown Port and this country is also set to welcome a record number of cruise passengers this year, over 100 000 more than last year.
That’s according to Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy. In fact, he told those attending the opening ceremony of the Caribbean Shipping Association’s 47th Annual General Meeting, Conference and Exhibition at the Hilton Hotel, that in 2016 some 424 vessels came to Barbados, up from 394 vessels in 2015 and he said 2017 is on track to be another record year.
Moreover, he said that as of September, cruise passenger arrivals were at 553 869 and he said by the end of the year that figure is expected to reach approximately 834 438. Touching on long-stay arrivals, he noted that the tourism industry in the region continues to hold its own in spite of the economic challenges, and revealed that to date there has been a 16 per cent increase in overall arrivals compared to last year, and Barbados is on track to register its third record year for long-stay arrivals.
Minister Sealy went on to reveal that of the 800 000-plus cruise passengers expected this year, one quarter of those will be persons who will fly into Barbados and start and end their voyage here, testimony to the fact that Barbados is actively engaged in homeporting. He said homeporting is a very important aspect of the cruise business which has spin-off benefits for businesses in Barbados, including farmers and manufacturers, to supply the ships with provisions. But, the benefits do not stop there; he also indicated that there are opportunities for players in the cargo industry to also capitalise on.
“…If we have a very active homeport, other ports of call in the region will also benefit as well. Many of those cruises of course originate from Europe and that is an area that has a very high ceiling, a lot of potential for cruise business, so we will certainly continue to invest in the business of homeporting,” Sealy stated.
His comments came as he gave the assurance that the plan to establish a dedicated cruise terminal for Barbados is still on the cards. Minister Sealy noted that this would not only provide more berthing facilities, but would also help to achieve the long desired separation of cruise and cargo in the Bridgetown Port. He made the point as he told those gathered that the Port is in the middle of executing its Master Plan, which he noted, includes the extension of Berth 5 which allows for some of the world’s biggest cruise ships to dock in Bridgetown and the expansion of the gantry crane tracks to provide full coverage of Berth 3, 4 and 5.
“It is also our hope that another berth, Berth 6 with another 1 100 feet of berthing, which will be equipped with a panamax crane, will also come on stream,” he said. (JRT)