Tourism and Cruise Lines Reviewed

Submitted by Looking Glass

We now plan to build a cruise terminal to facilitate the largest cruise ships. The facility includes piers, arrival and departure facilities, parking lots, cargo activities along with a casino and retail facilities. How many cruise lines visit? I believe only one cruise line services Barbados these days on a bi-weekly basis. Its ships bypassed us earlier this year. The same cruise line visits Jamaica and six other countries in the region on a weekly basis at least in the winter.

In Tourism In Peril concern was expressed re the Cruise Line deal that guaranteed the Government {BAT) earnings of $156m and 1.5million tourist arrivals over three years. Cruise liners seldom come there on a weekly basis, not even in winter. Now we are told cruise passengers grew from “over 127000 in 1985 to 726 541 last year.” So 6545 passengers per month (1636 per week) arrived last year in the midst of the world recession. It would require at least 3 arrivals per week. How many cruise ships arrive there weekly? Having been told passengers spend an average of $75.00 per port we tend to multiply that by the number of passengers on the ship which is very misleading. We have no way of really knowing how many got off, how much they spend or the amount of earnings generated. Some years ago it was estimated that only 25 cents of every tourist dollar remained on the island. That the cruise terminal will attract more and bigger ships and boost revenue appears to be wishful thinking. Do we really “need foreign exchange in order to register sustainable GDP growth?”

The construction will provide temporary work for 200 workers who, on completion will have to find work elsewhere. There is nothing to suggest permanent tourism related work for them.Construction and tourism are not value added industries.

Cruise liners have shopping facilities on board and we are normally the last port of call and the most expensive. Most of the items we have to offer are available in other ports of call. For all the stores to be profitable and generate permanent jobs we need more new locally made and attractive products. We objected to casino gambling in the past. None of the islands the cruise line visits except Jamaica have entertained casinos for the ships. Will the casino be owned by us or the cruise line? If the latter it is unlikely we will get much if any of the revenue generated.

Most likely we will have to borrow the $300m or more for the project which puts us deeper in debt. It is unlikely the returns will justify the investment. Use the money to accommodate agriculture. As I said before it will provide employment, reduce the import bill, increase revenue, enhance health and reduce health cost. The cruise industry cannot do it for us. I am not against cruise tourism. We have no comparative advantage via the North American market. Tourism is not a linear or exponential growth industry. We need to rationalize tourism to the country not the country to tourism.

We seem to create statistics to suit our purpose. We attract 700000 visitors a year Advocate (Sept 26/2012. If that was indeed the case why would 25 or more hotels and guest houses close in the last decade or so and are still closing? We need low cost hotels/guest houses to attract low income tourists. Did 61 international journalists really attend the food festival?

We are told there is lots of opportunity out of Canada especially the Western Canada where the average annual household exceeds $169000, and Wardair capable of filling a 456 seat B747 aircraft direct from Winnipeg, Edmonton and Alberta to Barbados. ((Lessons of Barbados Max Ward and Wardair in BFP). When was the last time an airline arrived with a fullhouse of tourists? Each year about 5million Canadians travel abroad to other countries via the USA mainly because it is cheaper than using Canadian airlines. Financially the current meat production problem in Western Canada will likely impact travel negatively.

Travel patterns and our international profile have changed. More and cheaper tourist destinations with much more to offer are coming on stream and we are the most expensive destination. West Jet and BA now have a bi-weekly direct service to the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic (DR). The DR also signed bilateral flight pacts/air service agreements with countries like The Arab Emirates, Jordan, Turkey and Iceland, opened an office in Vienna from which to expand into the EU. (Tourism Another Look 2009}. BA stared a new flight to Antigua and reduced flights to Barbados, Jet Blue twice daily to Jamaica, American Airline a daily non-stop to Jamaica, Air Canada direct to Grenada. Caribbean Airline now services the UK, Canada and the USA and Delta Air to Grenada. It means a loss of in-transit passengers and potential tourists. The same holds for the new Jamaica Airline servicing Guyana.

The merged American Airline and US Airway will do little for us given the state of the US economy. The bulk of the population is west of New York and indebtedness as in Canada is sky high. We have no comparative in the North American market. For the merger to benefit us both the airline and our local hotel prices would have to be low.

In the past I suggested linking up with Virgin Airline {UK} to establish our own low cost airline to service North America and Europe. It would facilitate our comparative advantage and the seats sold would generate income. So far it has fallen on death ears. However it is not too late.

Unlike the other countries in the region we have little to offer beside sea and sun. Consider using the “monument” of George Washington grandfather, the Greek Prince as an attraction. George visited there as a teenager with his sick brother. It was in Barbados that George first became acquainted with democratic government. The history would appeal to Americans. Also consider using the Police Band, the Merrymen and Red Plastic Bag. Tourist/visitors would love to be entertained and it could be a source of income. Perhaps tourism biggest problem lies in advertising and marketing. Why pay a company in the Midwest USA to “market” Barbados when the bulk of tourists come from the East? Many years ago articles promoting our tourism appeared in the Canadian media. These days it is almost impossible to find advertisement or promotion in the travel media or newspapers in North America or elsewhere.

According to Madame Mottley the south coast hotels are closing or are about to close. When the BLP forms the government “they will be setting up a fund of $500 million to make low interest loans to some of the hotels that were now closed…the funds will not come from taxpayers’ money, but from the Inter-American Bank, Caribbean Development Bank and the National Insurance Funds.” The restoration/ refurbishment would provide jobs for tradesmen and young women and enable fishermen to find a market for their catches.(Barbados Today Online 9/17/ 2012). Bajans stop buying fish?

Think again Madame and stop blaming the DLP. It all began when your Party was in office. The statement is a reminder that the BLP understand little about tourism. Devotion to self-indulgence without vision as an ongoing basis for socio-economic organization will ultimately result in socio-economic instability and unrest.

0 thoughts on “Tourism and Cruise Lines Reviewed

  1. There is a one weekly seriver with carnival victory that is done throughout the year. All other cruises are seasonal ie winter/summer and they vary from weekly – biweekly. The new cruise terminal has a major design flaw. There is no sea wall to protect the vessels during high swells. ie rough seas means new terminal will be useless.

    Some of winter cruises home port here so we are the first and last call. They normally ship them from airport to seasport and vice versa .so only companines in airport or seaport have any chance of earniing from these toursist. if we were to suggest one night stay going to and fro we would need equivalent room stock for 1000-2000 passenders which with the depleted room stock is now not avaliable. For all other ship we normally in the middle of itnary. The reason why cruises don’t like to come here is the extra fuel cost to get here. On the main island chain they can skip one or two island and then go back to them on the way to the home port.

    The idea for dedicated air transport is always good but we need some serious captial to invest into it to get it up and running

  2. which minister do i go and see to bribe for the job or do i just go to the prime minister to offer my bribe to get the job of building the new harbor. any information would be handy.
    thanks in advance.

  3. We are in dire need of an inter island ferry! Why can’t these idiots in Tourism see this? They keep pumping money into projects that are not necessary.

  4. Harry didn’t you say that you were a plumber in Canada? What de rass yuh doing bout here? Another thing buddy you will first have to learn to write and speak properly!

  5. David what choice do we really have to travel to the islands? LIAT? why don’t you do a poll? In fact many were excited about the talk about a ferry. And BTW we need a regular cargo service between the islands. This would be a Tourism boost for the islands including Barbados.

    • @islandgal

      We have many good choices that we are not making today like why build 15,000 square foot houses, or buy/lease the large number of gas/diesel guzzlers on our roads, we make those decisions anyway. As a people we have tp come to a realization that what we do/want at the indivudual level has national significance. We are NOT there yet.

      On 4 November 2012 14:31, Barbados Underground

  6. Personally, I think the compromise might be something along the EasyCruise model. A upgraded ferry that acts as overnight transport between the islands and also carries freight.
    When Sir Stelios based his ship in Barbados (briefly) and then moved it to St. Maarten I asked him why, and he responded that the port costs were too high here.

    • @Adrian

      The port cost issue has been confirmed repeatedly by Sir Cow many times in conversations with Deniis on VOB. It is cheaper in St. Lucia and Trinidad to run business through the port. Our high port costs is something Sir will NEVER allow the government to touch. We will have to sink first.

      On 4 November 2012 14:43, Barbados Underground

  7. Just go to the Barbados Port Authority Website and view the cruise ship schedule for arrival of cruise ships.

    or visit Cuise for arrivals of all Ports and Ships
    This is the age of technology
    You people are too slow
    Come on Live Up

  8. Harry callihan | November 4, 2012 at 9:37 AM |
    which minister do i go and see to bribe for the job or do i just go to the prime minister to offer my bribe to get the job of building the new harbor. any information would be handy.
    thanks in advance.
    Your best bet sir,would be the Minister of Health, as, due to an unfortunate incident at the Psychiatric Hospital last week , there is now a vacancy for a demented lunatic.He may even give you a bribe to come.

  9. David | November 4, 2012 at 10:26 AM |

    Would Barbadians use a ferry service?
    And the answer may be very few. The majority of Barbadians have this thing about going places where they can loose themselves in the big shopping malls such as in Miami, New York or Puerto Rico. Try telling many Bajans of the beauty of Dominica, especially, and many of the other islands,and you are likely to get a screwed up face.
    Many years ago trading between the islands was commonplace,and done by people who would now be labelled NGO’s. Almost daily one could have seen a schooner or two down on the wharf road unloading supplies. A ferry service between the island may be able to revive some of this essential trading, and especially at this time when our once arable lands are in bush and concrete and our main food supply chain depends heavily on the tinned and plastic wrapped stuff.
    We are still waiting on that first shipment of goodies from Dominica promised to us early in 2008 when the two PM’s met.

  10. islandgal246 | November 4, 2012 at 10:24 AM |
    We are in dire need of an inter island ferry! Why can’t these idiots in Tourism see this? They keep pumping money into projects that are not necessary.
    They, and the Government and the authorities, need to see a lot more than a ferry to at least keep visitors coming back here . Barbados is fast becoming, if its not there already, one of the noisiest countries in the region. Not only during the day, but modified motorcycles and motorcars release their ear splitting noises throughout the early morning hours as well. Every and any place. Visitors come here for a bit of peace, and unlike us they have a choice.
    Last Wednesday I took a walk through some of the back streets and side alleys of Bridgetown. There was one other cruise ship in the port, beside of Carnival Victory , and unlike what our Tourism gurus expected, many of these visitors, did not stick to the Board Walk, Broad Street or Independence Square, they could also be seen travelling through the same back alleys and back streets, most of which were not a pretty sight, or smell.
    All that we seem to want to do is to juck our hands in the tourists pockets and relieve them of their cash, starting from the crude and cussing taxi drivers , especially those in Heroes Square.

  11. @ Colonel Buggy | November 4, 2012 at 10:28 PM |
    “.. and unlike what our Tourism gurus expected, many of these visitors, did not stick to the Board Walk, Broad Street or Independence Square, they could also be seen travelling through the same back alleys and back streets, most of which were not a pretty sight, or smell.”

    The places you have described in Bridgetown are some of the worst places for cruise ship visitors to travel in the East Caribbean. It seems this country’s tourism industry must collapse like its sugar industry before any lessons are learnt by the authorities.
    Horatio Nelson’s depiction of Bridgetown as a “hell hole’ appears to have come full circle.

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