BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday March 23, 2020 – Minister of Tourism and International Transport Kerrie Symmonds says Government’s demonstrated commitment to cruise ships home porting in Barbados’ waters, amid the COVID-19 crisis, could redound to its benefit in the months ahead.
He said the country’s humanitarian approach to the issue was already seeing positive results with the possibility of a Southern Caribbean Cruise Alliance allowing for a cruise itinerary in the summer being on the cards for Barbados.
Symmonds made the disclosures as he addressed a press conference yesterday to give an update on what was happening in the tourism sector amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Several cruise ships are currently anchored in Barbados’ waters after the International Cruise Association suspended all cruises for a one-month period in the first instance.
Passengers on board the cruise ships were repatriated back to their countries, while efforts are still ongoing to do the same for some crew members who remain on island.
“I don’t think that there have been any negatives for Barbados, in terms of our relationships for partnering with the cruise lines as we did. The fact of the matter is that first of all, we honoured contracts that we had to honour internationally,” Symmonds said.
“The reality is that once you get into the home porting business, you are by law required to carry out certain levels of responsibility. It isn’t only that you get the benefit of the ships coming here, and you get the advantage of an opportunity to make money off of provisioning …. There is also a little burden that you have to carry sometimes, and that burden is that you have to take your responsibility for the ships that homeport out of your shores.”
Symmonds stressed that Government was now being viewed as a “trustworthy” partner, with others expressing a willingness to enter discussions on expanding relationships.
“We have to see it as a benefit from the posture that we have taken. And, again, down the road it can only speak towards offering significant commercial opportunity to the country; employment benefits as well,” he said.