Barbados seeks to cushion small cruise interests | New

GRAND CAYMAN, Cayman Islands:

The government of Barbados will create a cooperative aimed at protecting the interests of small players in the thriving cruise tourism sector.

Responding to the ripple effect cruise tourism could have on her country’s small businesses, Tourism Minister Lisa Cummins said plans were already in place to fund a cooperative, in addition to paying insurance ensuring its sustainability during the first years.

“The co-op is specific to smaller operators, while being careful not to sideline larger players,” Cummins, a senator, told reporters during a Caribbean Tourism Organization press briefing Monday at the Ritz- Carlton of Grand Cayman.

The cooperative is a direct buffer for cruise lines, which capture onboard revenue by selling pre-booked tours, food and drink and transport, leaving little room for some land-based players to cash in.

Cummins said stakeholders should face the reality that cruise operators don’t want to leave money on the table.

She said cruise spending is overwhelmingly tied to shore excursions, 90% of which are booked online.

“So we need to be able to look at what their business model is and target our interventions to a business model that allows revenue to be generated in a national economy,” the tourism minister said.

Plans are in place to host a dedicated session on September 23 engaging manufacturers, growers and agro-processors in a sourcing seminar.

By October 10, cruise lines will travel to Barbados to meet with operators on their bids, the minister said.

Cummins said the government was also targeting recruitment drives for ships’ crews.

Already, the government has participated in a job fair, targeting workers at different salary scales.

With the winter cruise season extended by a month, Barbados expects to welcome just over 850,000 passengers. Compared to pre-COVID inflows in 2019, which was a record year, the country will achieve over 90% of its target.

The island welcomed more than 900,000 cruise passengers in 2019.

Barbados will also host the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, making Barbados its winter home, with 20 sailings to the capital Bridgetown.

Traditional partners such as MSC, Seaboard, Carnival and Royal Caribbean will continue to rebuild the market after their two-year absence.

Cummins was quick to point out that there could be no conversation about tourism on the island without addressing the challenges of the climate crisis.

Like his Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who has pushed for action on climate change, which disproportionately affects small and developing states, Cummins has spoken of the importance of protecting the environment from the scars of industry. and trade.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com

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