Welcome to Barbados – It’s Sunday so we’re closed
I picked up on a newspaper article recently that highlighted, what was described as the world’s third largest cruise ship, Quantum of the Seas ‘dropped anchor’ in Barbados last week with its ‘4,600 passengers and 1,600 crew’.
You would think along with other ships that arrived the same day, what a wonderful opportunity for sales. The problem was it happened on a Sunday and according to various social media sites the majority of shops were closed.
I then thought of the Pelican Village Craft Centre and was frankly amazed that they do not appear to have a website or Facebook presence.
Individual businesses operating out of the location may have, but if you are a potential customer and have not been here before, how would you know?
“Quantum of the Seas coming to Barbados should inspire confidence in the cruise industry specifically and tourism generally. It means that we will experience tremendous increases in our numbers and along with other initiatives produce expanded economic opportunities for Barbadians.”
Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy speaking to Barbados Today on June 6, 2013. A shame that many shop owners remain closed when thousands of tourists are wandering about looking for places to spend their vacation cash.
With all the time on the ship, cruisers frequently research what is on offer at the next port-of-call.
Tenants and special interest groups have long bemoaned the lack of business, but what are they doing to capture what seems like a untapped massive potential market, many of which have to walk within feet of their premises. I understand from an informed source that ‘only one or two’ even open their doors on Sundays?
And surely, one of more persons could stand outside the port entrance handing out simply flyers with shopping enticements.
Bridgetown Port Inc. maintains a very user friendly website and with a couple of clicks you can view every ship arrival and the time it is due to dock and sail. So there is absolutely no excuse not to know many people to expect.
At least two more Sundays this month have up to four ships docking on a single day with as many as 9,806 passengers and that’s even before you count the crew.
Perhaps the business owners do not want to work on a Sunday, but can those of us involved in tourism afford such a luxury in these difficult financial times?
Many do not have a choice.
Certainly, from my decades in the industry, we have found that our visitors want to buy locally made crafts and products that truly distinguish the destination from others.
Surely it’s not rocket science to put together an all embracing attractive website and then link it all the mediums where you can capture the attention of the majority of cruisers visiting Barbados.
There is no shortage of sites which include Cruise Critic, Cruise Mates, Cruise Addicts, Cruise Forum Tripadvisor, Cruise Reviews Forum and Cruising Talk, among several others.
Other obvious links are to our national tourism portal www.visitbarbados.org
While the shipping companies largely control passenger discretionary spending, which is estimated to average 80 per cent onboard and 20 per cent onshore, even a marginal product choice influence, could make a huge sustainable difference to the Pelican’s long term survival.
As we enter the peak winter season I am delighted to report that sufficient restaurants have decided to stay our re-DISCOVER restaurant initiative. It is especially pleasing as we estimate of the thousands who have taken up the offer, roughly 50 per cent have been locals and this will hopefully demonstrate that we need and appreciate their business year round.