Tourism stakeholders are preparing to endure the primary summer, possibly in a long time, where absolutely no cruise ships shall be visiting this country’s shores.
General Manager of Atlantis Submarines Barbados Roseanne Myers who, since February last 12 months has been Chairing the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), acknowledged that the outlook for the period May to September is bleak.
But she also believes that a choice on the Crop Over festival paired with a targeted marketing strategy could swiftly improve the industry’s fortunes.
“Despite the fact that it shouldn’t be a major number, we might normally have at the least one cruise ship calling and a cruise ship calling every other week in pre-COVID times. We now don’t have any cruise ships,” Myers told Barbados TODAY.
“It’s probably going to be the primary time, definitely since I’ve been with Atlantis that we haven’t had any summer ships calling in any respect and that’s cause for concern, because regardless that we may normally have one ship per week, it still is a major business for that in the future, because that ship can provide us two or three tours and each other week the identical,” stressed the chief.
At the peak of the pandemic, dozens of cruise ships were allowed to berth off the coasts of Barbados at a time when COVID restrictions in other destinations left them stranded. And, in lots of cases, the crews and cruise corporations promised to return.
But despite the challenges, Myers believes there could also be a silver lining beyond the cruise industry. She explained that whilst May and June are traditionally difficult, July and August are sometimes far more promising.
“It really could be very much the local market and that traffic that comes for Crop Over,” Myers explained.
“And it’s not that they’re coming in the summertime for Crop Over only. Summer brings family traffic and we’re a family-oriented company. So I believe that we have an interest to see what is going to occur with Crop Over and that whole festive feeling in the summertime,” she added.
Along with the absent vessels, the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) revealed that hotel occupancy may also dip well below 40 per cent in April, May and June.
“We have now signalled to the BTMI that we want to have some discussion with respect to what marketing tactics we might engage in for the summer period,” BHTA CEO Rudy Grant told Barbados TODAY.
Authorities haven’t yet decided whether the Crop Over festival shall be held this 12 months, but the ultimate call is claimed to rest with Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
There may be also optimism concerning the leisure of COVID protocols across the UK, which is Barbados’ most important tourism source market. Much more promising is a transparent intention from local public health officials to loosen up this country’s restrictions.
“A serious thrust from the island and from individual businesses, I believe, could still make a positive impact on the summer period, so I believe that is largely the thrust that we want to have,” said Myers.
“We’re now at a stage where we don’t have as many [COVID restrictions] and the world must know that Barbados, from all elements, by way of all of the tours within the marine environment and all of the land-based tours, is open, in order that if you come, you might be free to go and do whatever you desire to do, very very similar to before.
“I believe even if you take a look at travel, persons are concerned that they might go somewhere after which they will’t do anything. Now that we’re fully reopened, I believe that we’re all going to should get together as a personal sector as well and see how we will push that word overseas that we’re all open and there are exciting things to do again,” she contended.
But she underscored the necessity for the country to give attention to direct marketing, noting that because the start of the pandemic, many local corporations were still attempting to recoup monies owed by international tour operators.
A method the senior executive believes this may be bolstered is by offering combination tours.
“So I can come to Atlantis after which I can do an island tour or go to Harrison Cave because we do transfers and pickups from the hotels. People want seamless, people wish to do it easily. People don’t mind going out and about, but in the event that they come to Atlantis after which they may be taken from there out to lunch or something, then it’s all in a flow they usually return to the hotel.
“We have now to facilitate and make it easier. So we’re going to launch a series of combination tours as a part of the entire stuff we’re working on to roll out in the summertime.