It appears Government may have to do more than construct a new $300 million cruise facility and allow casino gambling in port if it wants to maximise earnings from cruise tourism.
A comprehensive study of the industry funded by the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association has found that Barbados earned $107.4 million from cruise tourism in the 2011/2012 season, no more than it did when the last such research was done in for 2008/2009.
But the bad news for local tourism planners was that despite spending $79.6 million of the overall amount, an unwelcome number of the travelers (39 per cent) indicated they would not be interested in spending a traditional vacation here.
The 81 page Economic Contribution of Cruise Tourism To The Destination Economies study was conducted by United States firm Business Research & Economic Advisors.
Its results were arrived at via a survey based analysis of the impacts of passenger, crew and cruise line spending.
The September 2012 report released yesterday by the FCCA stated in part: “In Barbados both passenger and crew onshore visits and average expenditures per visit (includes homeport passengers) remained virtually unchanged.
“Barbados, with both transit and homeport calls, benefitted from 1,794 total jobs generated by cruise tourism spending. Thus, over 30 jobs were generated for every $1 million in direct spending. These jobs paid an average of US$10,200 in annual wage income.”
In the case of Barbados there were 606,000 passenger onshore visits by passengers aboard both port-of-call and home port cruise ships. Spending by these individuals was an overall $79.6 million with passengers spending an average $131.20.
The ships crews also contributed with 120,000 visits and spending of US$11.8 million and average spending of $222.00 per crew member. Additionally, cruise lines spent $16 million in Barbados in the 2011/2012 cruise year.
One bit of bad news for the island was that between the last study in 2009 and now both passengers (five per cent) and crews (9.9 per cent) were spending less in Barbados. The island was among 11 destinations suffering a decline in total passenger expenditures.
This was despite the fact that 93 per net of passengers said they were “satisfied” with their visit, and half of them were “extremely satisfied”.
When asked how likely they were to return to Barbados for a land based or resort vacation within the next three years, 52 per cent of cruise passengers who visited the island said they were “likely” to.
And unfortunately for the island a significant 39 per cent of the travelers said it was “not at all likely” they would want a long stay vacation here. Barbados was one of eight destinations which had combined passenger and crew arrivals in excess of one million, as in 2011/2012 it welcomed an estimated 770,600 passengers and 311,500 crew members.
The overall study of the 21 participating destinations found that cruise tourism generated nearly $4 billion in direct expenditures, 45,225 jobs and $1.4 billion in employee wages.
The Caribbean’s biggest earners were the Bahamas $788 million, St. Maarten $712 million, the US Virgin Islands $680 million, Puerto Rico $374 million, and the Cayman Islands $316 million. (SC)