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Ships galore

by Latoya Burnham

More than 12,000 visitors are expected here on seven ships to the Bridgetown Port tomorrow.

Even as the Barbados Port Inc reports this as a positive development, particularly for tourism stakeholders, the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry believes a good mixture of taxis and tour operators could perhaps help to spread the possible benefits around in moving the visitors from place to place.

CEO of BPI, David Jean-Marie remarked that the port was delighted that its efforts to bring more cruise ships to the island were being realised for the 2012-2013 cruise season.

“We have welcomed eight inaugural cruise ships for the season thus far and have had an increase in the number of ships home porting on the island. This augurs well for the success of all our tourism partners,” he said.

Even so, Executive Director of BCCI, Lisa Gale, said this was the kind of boost the economy and the business sector needed, provided that the visitor spend money here.

She said the call from Barbados TODAY was the first the Chamber had heard about the number of ships and people expected in tomorrow, but there was potential there for good.

“It would be very significant. We need the boost. We all heard the Governor of the Central Bank’s review. It did not paint the greatest picture, it gave us some startling realities about that great need for a push and a boost, so if we can get some visitors to descend on not only Bridgetown but Barbados in general, that would redound to our benefit, provided that they spend some dollars,” she noted.

The ships in port tomorrow are Ventura, which has stayed an extra day to accommodate their UK cruise passengers who are stranded due to a winter storm which has resulted in the closure of airports. However, the Vision of the Seas, Royal Clipper, Adonia, Celebrity Eclipse, Oriana and Wind Spirit are expected to join the Ventura here, the BPI reported.

All the ships will berth in the port except the 875-foot ship Oriana, which is expected to tie up at the Flour Mill.

Gale said these visitors could create some additional economic activity, given the drop in tourism, manufacturing, the traded sectors, and even the foreign exchange projections.

She said as well that it was a myth that only businesses in Bridgetown benefitted from the arrival of ships to the port. In fact, the executive director said indications from taxi operators was that people often ventured beyond the City.

“I think that’s a misconception because the taxis have reported to us that ‘de people don’t come to Bridgetown’, everybody is taking them out on the tours and that is a different comment from those who are on the ground.”

She advised too that those who wanted piece of the action from other parts of the country should provide transportation so visitors could get to them.

“There is an argument that if those people go on the tours they don’t go to Bridgetown, and then the argument if they go to Bridgetown they don’t get to see the rest of the island because they are here for such a short time. So those persons who want them there at their various guest houses or dwelling houses or whatever, they should provide transportation to take them to and fro so as to get the tourists seeing and smelling and tasting Barbados.”

Additionally, BPI noted that seven ships were also expected each on February 2 and March 2, providing two more bumper days early this year.

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