Barbados has a reputation for being the prime cruise destination in the Caribbean, especially for European cruises. At the recent Seatrade Europe event in Hamburg, Germany, Barbados garnered a lot of attention as the nation looked to promote its cruise offerings for the upcoming winter season.
Ian Gooding-Edghill, the Minister of Tourism and International Transport, took part in Seatrade Europe, as part of a delegation of tourism and port officials. Top UK and European cruise lines and suppliers operating out of the region, were a part of the trade show which started on the 6th and ended on the 8th of September.
“We are happy to say that we continue to have solid relationships with the UK cruise lines. The fact that we are able to maintain strong homeporting business with our major partners including P&O, Mein Schiff and TUI, is testament to the strength of the Barbados brand in this region. In addition, the Bridgetown Port maintain calls from the small boutique vessels such as Star Clipper and Sea Cloud,” Mr. Gooding-Edghill said.
With regards to the event and its impact, the Minister stated: “This is my first attendance at Seatrade Europe, and it was important to demonstrate to our longstanding cruise partners that Barbados is serious about building business on this side of the pond. We had several successful meetings with partners discussing global cruise industry trends, and we project growth in this market as a result of these discussions.”
Multiple topics were discussed with the industry cruise executives present at the forum. These included future businesses, port ratings and customer satisfaction, opportunities for home porting, updates in bunkering arrangements, as well as pre and post cruise stays.
The Minister from the Barbados Port Inc. the Minister also provided an update on the capital projects being developed at the country’s seaport.
The Minster also stated that the cruise industry has rebounded post COVID. Barbados is currently projecting 396 cruise calls with an estimated 722,001 passengers, up from last season’s 358 calls with 608,583 passengers, in the upcoming winter season.
2018/19, with 384 calls and 726,028 passengers, was the benchmark season up till now and is being used to make a comparison to the figures of the coming season. Presently, Barbados is expected to achieve a 99 per cent recovery of pre-pandemic levels in the upcoming winter season.
The Minister also elaborated on his views on airlift strategies and condor expansion. Particularly, he spoke of strategically building out the cruise business, he is mindful of the balance to be achieved with airlifts to adequately facilitate such progress. This is precisely why the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) is discussing airline strategies out of the UK and Europe to fulfill the demand being built on the cruise side through aggressive sales and marketing activity.
“We are pleased to announce that the Condor arrangement will extend beyond winter to become a year-round service. This is a major accomplishment for the BTMI considering the global challenges associated with airlift as it will increase the capacity for Europe,” Minister Gooding-Edghill stated.
He concluded by expressing that this aligns with the BTMI’s strategy to expand opportunities for summer sailings.