George Hutson, Minister of Internation Business and International Transport,??addresses the press last??Friday, at a Press Conference to discuss plans for??the new Sugar Point Cruise Development. (A.Miller/BGIS)??

The construction of the new Sugar Point Cruise Development will open the door to new opportunities for Barbados and better position the country as a hub for cruise tourism.

This view was expressed by Minister of International Business and International Transport, George Hutson, during a press conference at Hilton Barbados last Friday.

The Minister unveiled Government’s long anticipated plan to construct a new multi-million dollar cruise ship facility called the Sugar Point Cruise Facility.

He also revealed plans to take legislation to Parliament that would encourage ships to stay in port longer by opening their duty free shops and casinos between 6:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. This would be permitted under strict conditions, providing ships stay in port for a minimum of 12 hours.

"This project will provide context for the development of Barbados as a hub for cruise tourism and represents the fulfillment of another of our manifesto pledges," Mr. Hutson pointed out.

He noted that the new facility would facilitate the expansion of Barbados’ home porting activities, which presently sees 17 vessels doing partial or full turns involving 120 000 cruise passengers.

The Minister added that increases in home porting ships would also open additional opportunities for the provisioning of goods and services by local manufacturing and agro processing businesses of products such as chicken breast, rum, condiments and water.

"Millions of dollars in local produce are sold to cruise ships annually and there is great potential to expand this activity to earn more," Mr. Hutson told those present.

In addition, possibilities for the further development and promotion of new itineraries to Brazil and into the southern Caribbean and north of Barbados to the Virgin Islands are also being explored. These initiatives are being led by officials at the Bridgetown Port and the Barbados Tourism Authority.

The International Transport Minister pointed out that Barbados already had substantial airlift out of the UK, Europe and Brazil. ??"Air Service Agreements with Panama and Columbia are being worked upon, and an agreement with South Africa is scheduled for discussion in November 2012" he said, noting that when the latter agreement got under way, there would be several opportunities for those living on the African coast to connect with cruises.

Mr. Hutson explained that over the past 30 years the cruise industry had been one of the fastest growing areas in the leisure travel market, with average growth of 7.2 per cent being recorded.

And, with growth expected to continue, the Minister adverted to the fact that new cruise lines were being designed to attract a younger passenger to further expand the markets.

"Today’s generation of cruise ships feature on-board surf pools, gold simulators, water parks, ice skating rinks, rock climbing walls… Indeed, these new ships present challenges for destination ports, as they encourage passengers to stay onboard the ships which is in direct contrast with the needs of destination ports or states," Mr. Hutson observed.

He added that Government was of the view that if Barbados and the Caribbean were to continue competing with new and emerging destinations, they needed to improve the visitor satisfaction and experience.


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