UK Air Passenger Duty hitting Barbados hard
The chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation just told TTG Travel Trade Gazette that the Caribbean is starting to feel the effects of cruise ships moving to European and Asian waters. Ricky Skerritt also told TTG that the Air Passenger Duty is a killer when it comes to one of Barbados’ most important markets: the Brits …
“The ships are going wherever they can get the best yield, which we understand, because the cost of flying to the Dominican Republic or Barbados is so much higher for European passengers, especially from Britain with Air Passenger Duty.
“We are constantly talking to the lines to see what we can do to stimulate demand, but it will be very difficult to bring them back overnight,”
Those ships aren’t returning to the Caribbean anytime soon
Mr. Skerritt’s attempt to put some hope and an upbeat spin on the situation is understandable, but logic tells us that the decisions made by various cruise lines to abandon the Caribbean either for the summer or permanently will not be reversed anytime soon.
The cruise lines did their homework, gathered their information and then decided upon new strategies. This didn’t happen overnight. New tours, marketing strategies and materials were probably prepared a year or more in advance. People book cruises for the destinations and also for specific ships that they know and favour – and many cruise veterans plan their trips years ahead. “Darling, let’s do Asia in the summer, then Africa the year after, then Alaska the following summer.”
Once again, logic tells us that once a ship leaves Barbados and the Caribbean on a permanent basis – it may be years before we see it or a replacement tie up a Bridgetown.
Tourists say: The cost of getting to Barbados isn’t the only problem
An old friend alerted us to this story and also to the reaction on some of the cruising blogs and discussion forums.
The reaction to Mr. Skerritt’s comments by experienced Caribbean cruise passengers from the UK is both revealing and disturbing.
Here’s what the conversation is looking like at the Cruises.co.uk discussion forum… and it’s not pretty. Have a read and think what these folks are saying, and how they are making their vacation plans…
“I can understand their concerns but I have little sympathy with them. Until fifteen years ago the Caribbean was seen as the ultimate winter destination for Europeans. The prices became vastly inflated, hotels/resorts did not reinvest their profits and standards began to slip. But almost out of the blue the other resorts developed rapidly (Maldives etc) offering Europeans great value and the Middle East offering out of this world amenities It’s a lesson which all tourist destinations should heed, don’t take the tourists for granted, someone is always willing to offer them a “better holiday experience””
… Alan, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
“I agree with Alan. The Caribbean has always been a winter destination for cruise ships and package holidays and the Med., Baltic etc the summer destination. The reason for this was to avoid the rainy season and high humidity in the Caribbean from May to October. The fact that the various Caribbean islands have become reliant on their inflated prices is unfortunate. What the Med. earns in the summer lasts the winter. Suggest the Caribbean adopt the same strategy, what they earn in the winter covers the summer. As newer destinations emerge it becomes a competing market. Suggest the Caribbean learns to compete.”
“Agree entirely with the comments.However, the crime (or perception of crime) and the saturation of ports like Barbados, St Marrten and St Thomas, must also have a bearing on the problem.”
“Just come back (yesterday 26 Sept) from a Caribbean cruise with RCCL and I must say that we were disgusted with the prices charged on food and especially on drinks on the islands visited. We even commented to them that we found the prices of drinks on board ship so much more reasonable. We talked to other fellow cruisers and were told that most people these days just go on a trip or just a short walk into the ports then back on board to enjoy the ship. At the time of our visit there was only one other smaller ship in port at the same time, which is such a different picture to the one 2 years ago when we could not get into the shops for all the different ships and passengers visiting. We also remember enjoying some very reasonably price local beer.”
… Newton Abbot
Read the whole sad story at Cruises.co.uk: Caribbean Crunch: Islands Hit by Relocation of Ships