Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy has defended a decision to construct a new cruise facility in Bridgetown.
And the Government official also said its eventual cost could be more than $200, but not necessarily the $300 million recently announced by Cabinet colleague Minister of International Transport George Hutson.
He was speaking in the House of Assembly as Parliamentarians debated the Cruise Ships (Opening of Facilities) Bill, a discussion during which Opposition MP Ronald Toppin said the new facility was not needed at this time.
“One of my first public statements, a few people didn’t like it, as Minister of Tourism was when I spoke about the conditions in the port with respect to accommodating cruise tourism,” he said. “The port was built over a half century ago with one thing in mind, sugar, and clearly it is now transformed into a logistics, cargo hub, transshipment hub, we now have a modern cruise industry and I don’t see why it should even be an issue, if we are serious about cruise tourism, that we have to have appropriate modern cruise terminal facilities at the Bridgetown port.”
“That can’t even be an issue and I know the cost of increased berthing may seem a little high but the truth is we don’t have a natural harbour here in Barbados… you don’t want to go and build something and then the captains refuse to go and berth the ships there, we want to make sure that what we have is acceptable, then it is not going to be a cheap exercise,” he added.
Sealy was also unsure the new cruise venture would cost $300 million as stated.
“As I understand it only conceptual estimates have been done, no one has any figure put down, but yes it is certainly going to be in excess of US$100 million, but we wait to see how those plans firm up,” he noted.
“But I don’t see how you can avoid it, we need to have modern cruise facilities, you must also remember that not only are we a stop on the cruise itineraries that come to this part of the Caribbean, but we have also developed a speciality as a home port and if you are going to be home-porting you definitely need to have proper facilities.” (SC)