Minister calls for differentiation of Barbados holidays
With the aim of refreshing the kind of cruise Caribbean holidays the island provides and tackling the fierce competition from other popular Caribbean cruise destinations, Barbados' Minister of Transport called for differentiation of their tourism product.
With cruising Caribbean holidays facing increased competition from the Mediterranean, European and North American markets in the fast growing cruise industry, popular Caribbean holiday destinations are being warned that their achievements may be jeopardised if they do not seek to provide a unique brand that uniquely identifies Caribbean cruises, and to continually refresh it.
The warning has come from Barbados's Minister of International Transport, George Hutson, who noted that while the Caribbean region had been the dominant cruise market over the years, accounting for some 37% of all itineraries last year, there had been a substantial loss of market share.
He told his audience: "We continue to place emphasis on depicting the Caribbean as sun and sea to a mass market audience. Consequently, the homogenous view of the region continues to be perpetuated by images of sandy beaches and palm trees. The competitiveness of the cruise industry demands that each location within the region demonstrate product differentiation."
In this regard, Hutson noted that larger cruise vessels, currently under construction, were designed to offer passengers "a total holiday experience" on board, including rock climbing, artificial beaches and waves for surfing.
"As a result, innovation strategies must be developed that will create a different visitor experience in each location, and lure cruise passengers off ships and increase spending within that location," he implored.
With cruise tourism contributing an estimated BDS $63.9 million to the economy in 2008, Mr. Hutson said Government had embarked on a number of initiatives to develop and enhance the Barbados brand, including the establishment of a joint public and private sector Cruise Tourism Task Force.
He added that the government was also in the process of selecting a joint venture partner to expand the cruise facilities, including the construction of a cruise pier, a new homeport facility and general improvements for expanded shopping at the Bridgetown Port and thus increase passenger spend during their Barbados holidays. In this regard, he also alluded to plans for the development of reclaimed land in the area to the west of Trevor's Way, to bring the Pelican Village experience a bit closer to the cruise ships (Bridgetown Port), and by extension to cruise passengers.
The Minister concluded that opportunities to offer homeport options to cruise lines, especially European partners, as well as exploration of new markets in South America and the Far East, offered "tremendous opportunities for Barbados and certainly the region."
Over 30 port officials from the region attended the seminar, which was organised by the Barbados Port Inc. in collaboration with the Inter-American Committee on Ports (CIP) of the Organisation of American States.
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