|Artist??interpretation of the new Sugar Point Cruise Development. (A.Miller/BGIS)??|
The face of cruise tourism is about to change in Barbados as Government moves a step closer to realising the Sugar Point Cruise Development.
Plans for the new multi-million dollar facility were unveiled last Friday by Minister of International Business and International Transport, George Hutson, during a press conference at Hilton Barbados.
He explained the project was being led by the Barbados Port Inc., and involved a joint venture between a consortium comprising SMI Infrastructure and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. It is being constructed by world renowned marine contractors, Weekes Marine, who also did work on the Bridgetown Sewage outfall.
The project will be executed in two phases, with the first phase projected to cost $300 million and span over the next two years. Mr. Hutson said that phase of the project would involve the reclamation of 15 acres of waterfront land on which 100,000 square feet of commercial activity would be built; the installation of underground infrastructure, such as electrical cables and water mains; the construction of two cruise piers; the arrival and departure facilities; and the start of the build-out of shops and parking spaces.
He explained that phase two was expected to start in another five years, and would depend on the completion of phase one and cruise numbers. That aspect, the Minister said, would see the construction of the third cruise pier and a roll-out of the shopping outlets.
"When completed, Barbadians, cruise passengers and land-based visitors will have significant opportunities to visit the enhanced Bridgetown waterfront; experience the local craft and cuisine; listen to live local and international performers; observe local artisans prepare their creations for sale, and experience activities that tell the story of Barbados and our rum heritage," Mr. Hutson pointed out.
He added that as the country moved more towards home porting, the possibility of constructing a hotel as part of the project was also being explored to encourage passengers to stay in Barbados either at the beginning or end of their trips.
It was revealed that the final engineering and design work are at an advanced stage, and would be completed by next month, with dredging expected to start the following month and construction early next year.
"We expect that at the start of construction, some 200 Barbadians will gain employment in various aspects of the project, and during the operation, more than 500 persons will be working in the various commercial activities," he said.
Another significant feature of the new project is the separation of cargo operations from the cruise facilities. "This will enhance the turnaround of cargo vessels, encouraging shipping companies to better manage their labour requirements," Mr. Hutson said.
However, the Minister told those present that the final designs and costing of the project were yet to be done.
While promising to give regular updates on the progress of the project, Mr. Hutson said there were other business facilitation issues that had to be addressed. Those issues involved the operations of customs and immigration at the sea and airports to create a seamless and hassel-free movement of cruise passengers through the system.
It would also involve some infrastructure work at the Grantley Adams International Airport, which will be planned and developed in harmony with the port project.