Plans to develop several berthing areas off the south, west and north of the island are in motion.
Minister of Tourism and International Transport Kerrie Symmonds said the request for proposals for the repairs on the Speightstown jetty and development of “several other landings for maritime transportation” have recently gone out.
He said officials have identified several sites including Speightstown in the north, Holetown and Fitts Village in the west and Accra and Oistins in the south, and “one or two in between” where some vessels could dock.
He explained that the vessels to use those berths would be yachts and small luxury vessels with 1,500 and less passengers.
He first outlined this plan back in February after meeting with local tourism officials and representatives of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA).
At that time, Symmonds said as Government prepared the island to receive larger cruise vessels, the highly-touted Sugar Point Cruise Terminal that was earmarked for the location between the Bridgetown Port and the Bridgetown Fishing Complex was to be reviewed so that larger vessels could be accommodated there.
Presenting a resolution for the final report of the National Cruise Development Commission in Parliament on Tuesday, he expressed concern about the island’s capacity to handle larger vessels as cruise lines prepare to introduce bigger ships carrying more passengers adding that the former administration had signed contracts in this regard.
“The Bridgetown Port on its best day in homeporting can turn around 10,000 people . . . but on any given day during a weekend period you will find four ships or more berthed at the Bridgetown Port,” he said.
“We can do and do or fail to do until they dump us from the itinerary as they have dumped other people . . . So the ships that are coming are going to be carrying 5,000 people or more, but the maximum capacity we have is to carry 10,000 and we have an itinerary that tells you that you will have four ships homeporting.
“It is in writing, they signed the contract. Richard Sealy [former minister of tourism] signed on behalf of Government, on November 29, 2013. And nothing was done, and we come to a point therefore where the capacity is the issue,” said Symmonds.
However, he gave the assurance that while the $400 million development was now the subject of court proceedings, it was still very much a plan on the table but some changes would have to be made.
“Discussions are ongoing. I give the House that assurance, but two things have to be looked at, one, a complete redesign of the concept, and a scaling down of the concept from the US$200 million enterprise that it was first mooted to be,” he said.