Last week, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley headed a delegation to San Juan, Puerto Rico, for the 2018 Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Cruise Conference and Trade Show.
Cruise development has been a prime focus for the Government of Barbados, which established a National Cruise Development Commission (NCDC) in August to further enhance the island’s cruise tourism sector.
The delegation included top Barbados cruise tourism officials, among them Errol Humphrey; Chairman of the NCDC; Senator Lisa Cummins; CEO of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), William Griffith; Director of Cruise at the BTMI, Cheryl Franklin; and members of Barbados Port Inc. and Barbados Cruise Terminals Inc.
During the four-day conference, Prime Minister Mottley met with senior global cruise leaders and decision makers to discuss opportunities for growth and development within Barbados’ cruise tourism sector. Now in its 25th year, the annual FCCA conference is designed to foster a better understanding of the inner workings of the cruise industry and help attendees improve their cruise tourism business.
Through a specialized forum that blends meetings and workshops with social functions, attendees have a unique opportunity to develop relationships with, promote products to, and learn from approximately 100 executives from FCCA’s 18 Member Lines who decide where ships call, what is sold and used onboard, and how to invest in destinations and infrastructure.
Some of the major industry players present were Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., Carnival Corporation, MSC Cruise Inc., Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.
Speaking on his return from the conference, Mr. Griffith described the experience as “fruitful”. “We were pleased to have the support of the Prime Minister at this year’s conference. We come every year and discuss Barbados’ place in the global cruise world and I think that actually having the Prime Minister in the room signifies to those at the table how serious we are about our cruise business,” he stated.
The CEO added that out of last week’s meetings, the BTMI would be addressing and implementing a number of key takeaways. “We expect a strong winter 2018/19 cruise season and we will, of course, be capitalizing on those opportunities to keep that trend going,” he said.
Barbados is expecting 400 cruise ship calls for the season running October 2018 to May 2019, and, out of those, 165 will be homeporting calls. In addition, a number of improvements to the Port facilities are in the pipeline, including a shuttle service, improved signage and taxi dispatch, and possibly complimentary Wi-Fi.