What is the real definition of Home Porting and how exactly does Barbados reap meaningful economic benefits?
Two tourism related matters have especially caught my eye over the last week and I think they both need greater consideration.
First, remarks from a tourism industry veteran who in my humble opinion qualified for the lifetime achievement award decades ago. Even though he sits on the National Tourism Marketing Committee he stated that there had not been a cruise ship conversion* programme for six years.
Secondly, more recently, from a Government spokesperson, highlighting that P & O’s new ship, the Ventura, which is currently under construction, will visit Barbados every 15 days or so, from November 7th, 2008 until 13th March 2009.
Senator Grant specifically mentioned that this ship will be ‘homeporting’ in Barbados, but my understanding is that aircraft will fly the bulk of the passengers into Grantley Adams where they will be immediately transferred to the ship. (see Nation News article Megaship Cruising In Next Year)
On the ship’s return to Barbados, as their website points out, ‘Finally you arrive back in the quintessential isle of Barbados, before your overnight flight back to the UK’.
The Senator also made a great play of that it ‘will require 13 wide-bodied aircraft in order to facilitate passengers to be taken from the airport to Bridgetown Port’.
The Ventura will have a normal operating capacity of 3,096 passengers, but is extremely unlikely that two engine aircraft like the B777 will be used to fly such large numbers. More probably, it will be economy configured charter aircraft like the A330 which could seat up to 350 persons, so at best the ’13 wide-bodied aircraft’ is a bit misleading.
Finally, what are the real economic benefits to Barbados for these massive movements of people from airport to seaport?
Over a year ago, the Minister of Tourism announced that the BTA had brokered a deal with Carnival Corporation to ‘guarantee’ a minimum of 400,000 cruise ship passengers per year over a three year period. The Minister refused to give details of exactly how much financial support was given to the 12 brands under Carnival’s ownership, but many of us thought that this subsidy was to drive much needed cruise ship traffic in the summer months.
Clearly, many other Caribbean ports will ‘benefit’ from the arrival of new mega ships like the Ventura.
But have they paid Carnival the same subsidies, simply to attract additional passengers in the short winter season, where the ship operators have little choice other than to ply the Caribbean Seas?
We really have to define what homeporting actually means and exactly what contribution it makes to our tourism sector.
How exactly we can hope to convert thousands of cruise ship passengers while enroute from the airport to the seaport is another story!
22 November 2007
* conversion programme (This word was misspelled in our original copy. We hope we inserted the correct one in its place!)
Superliner Ventura – So Nice That Folks Will Mostly Stay On Board?
After reading Adrian’s article, we decided to look into the new superliner Ventura. Nice vessel!
Perhaps so nice that many passengers will want to stay on board for activities.
Ask yourself… you have booked a package tour – flying from Britain to board the Ventura in Bridgetown. You stay up all night at home – packing and typical last minute stuff, then head for the airport. Fly across the Atlantic, land at Grantley Adams and make your way through customs. Luggage. Board the bus for a sleepy-eyed drive to the port. Get checked onto the ship, make your way to your cabin. Wait for your luggage to arrive. Shower. Feel like sleeping, but you’re too excited about the ship and so are the kids…
Are you really going to step off the ship to “explore Bridgetown” even if there is time before sailing? I don’t think so!
Here’s some information from the P & O Cruises website (link here) to let you know what awaits you on board Ventura…
– 3,600 passenger capacity
– 1,200 crew
– 1,546 cabins, 880 with balconies)
– 11 places to eat
– 12 places to drink
– 3 places to dance
– 5 places for live music
– two-tier stage
– two show lounges
– 5 pools
– 6 jacuzzis
– Supervised children’s activities so mom and dad can enjoy themselves!
And finally, Metropolis…
Welcome to Metropolis, situated at the aft of the ship on Deck 18. This unique venue will bring you all the excitement of the world’s coolest destinations. An innovative 20 metre floor-to-ceiling video wall will display dramatic cityscapes, so you might gaze ‘out’ upon Paris, New York or Sydney as you sip your favourite apéritif.
Back In Bridgetown
Now you are back in port after a week or two on the vessel – gambled, ate and partied to your heart’s content. Shopped on board for some gifts for those stuck at home… and you have 2 free hours to “explore Bridgetown” before the buses leave for the airport.
Home Porting vs Port Visit – What Is The Difference To Our Economy?
Is it possible that a “port visit” by a cruise ship that is not “home ported” here might create far more local economic impact for the ordinary small business? When a ship is home ported, most of the ship’s provisions arrives in containers from outside Barbados – with little benefit to the small business.
How much economic activity does home porting really create? It seems to me that there should be some good and hard statistics somewhere – but like everything the government spends our tax dollars on, that’s secret!
The upside of hosting cruise liners is that many folks discover after their first cruise that they mostly enjoy the port calls – so if they like Barbados they might return for their next holiday. So why haven’t we had a “passenger conversion” programmed for the last six years?
That’s a government secret too!