As part of an overall review of its tourism sector, Barbados commissioned the preparation of tourism for cruise strategy in 2006. At that time, cruise passenger arrivals were about 510,000 with 528 cruise ship calls in 2006. Part of the motivation for this strategy related to the clear indications that Caribbean nations were competing aggressively for cruise ship calls and that the traditionally strong position of Barbados (with its port facilities and long history of tourism activity) would lose market share. As its statistics indicate, there has been an almost 15% decline since 2006. Part of this is the increased competition Barbados expected. In addition, repositioning of cruise ship routes and itineraries has also contributed to the decline. The industry is always looking for new destinations to appeal to its markets (particularly repeat cruisers) and Barbados has the added disadvantage of being one of the oldest cruise destinations in the Caribbean.
Of particular interest is the approach Barbados took in developing its cruise strategy. While cruise passenger arrivals declined in 2006, some believe that the partnership approach Barbados took in developing the cruise strategy helped to avoid an even greater decline.
The key theme in the Barbados cruise strategy approach was a consultative and partnership oriented relationship with the cruise industry. Barbados went into the strategy with a conviction that the cruise industry was good for the country and that management and shaping of its benefits to complement Barbados’ expectations for tourism sector benefits was the objective.
Some of the key findings shaping the resulting cruise tourism strategy are described below. The following are excerpts from the 2006 Cruise Tourism Report prepared by ARA Consulting Group for the Barbados Tourism Development Programme and report on surveys conducted in 2006.
From the point of view of cruise line executives, Barbados gets generally high markets. It