If Barbados is to get a bigger slice of the multi-billion dollar international cruise industry, then this country’s tourism product needs to be urgently refreshed.
This is according to findings of the final report of the National Cruise Development Commission, which identified several key areas which have contributed to the worrying trend of low spend among cruise ship passengers and short-stay visitors.
Speaking from the Senate floor this morning, Minister of Foreign Affairs Senator Dr Jerome Walcott laid out the findings noting that in the report, which utilised several surveys, it was revealed that there has been steady decline in visitor satisfaction, decrease in consumer interest and the general view that the tourism product offerings were stale.
The report was divided into eight sections and covers several areas, looking at an analysis of the tourist industry against global trends. The report also looked at the current infrastructure versus what was needed to operate the cruise sector at an optimum level.
“The report spoke of the port and the deficiencies there. Out of 34 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, in terms of the welcome at the port of entry, Barbados ranked at number 29. So this is an area which definitely needs to be worked on as well as the cruise infrastructure. The report calls for massive expansion or a new cruise ship facility,” Walcott said.
The Senator further noted that the report also spoke to the upgrades to road infrastructure, clearer signage to attractions and intense marketing of several tourist facilities that have not lived up to their potential. The commission also urged Government to accelerate its plans for making Bridgetown a smart city, while increasing the number of bathroom facilities in the capital.
“It also speaks to environmental issues where persons go to visit attractions and places of interest and the signs leading to those places are often covered in bush and debris and we need to address this. The report also spoke to a need to refurbish the Pelican Craft Centre in order for that facility to be given a new lease on life, he said, noting that the commission’s report also called for a refreshing of the popular Oistins Bay Gardens facilities
The National Cruise Development Commission was established by Cabinet in August last year. Walcott noted that the cruise commission was charged with the responsibility of doing an in-depth assessment and analysis of the sector.