Barbados' cruise industry may reap benefits from home porting amidst COVID-19Sunday, March 29, 2020
BY KELLARAY MILES
FOLLOWING on its commitment to home port cruise ships in its waters, the Government of Barbados has said that this could redound to long-term economic benefits for the country in the aftermath of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Speaking at a press conference this week, Kerrie Symmonds, minister of tourism and international transport, said that the country's humanitarian approach to the issue was already seeing positive results, opening up the possibility that a southern Caribbean cruise alliance could allow for a cruise itinerary for the summer period to be made available for Barbados.
“We have to see it as a benefit from the posture that we have taken. And, again, down the road it can only speak towards offering significant commercial opportunity to the country and employment benefits as well,” he said while updating the country on the progress of the tourism sector amidst COVID-19.
“I don't think that there has been any negatives for Barbados in terms of our relationships for partnering with the cruise lines as we did. The fact of the matter is that first of all, we honoured contracts that we had to honour internationally,” he also commented.
Symmonds stressed that the Government was now being viewed as a “trustworthy” partner, with others expressing a willingness to enter discussions on expanding relationships.
A Caribbean360 report informed that several cruise ships are currently anchored in Barbados' waters after the international Cruise Association suspended all cruises for a one-month period in the first instance.
Barbados is the testing site for cruise ships that are home porting in the Bridgetown Port. Last week Prime Minister Mia Mottley said that while the country will honour its over 15-year-long obligation and provisioning of being a home port, strict prohibitions were also enforced to ensure that no shore leave is granted to people aboard ships home porting in the country.
“We have an obligation to these ships; these ships call Barbados home. There is a legal, contractual, moral, ethical and humanitarian obligation that we have,” the prime minister said.
After the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, several other countries in the region were forced to make the decision of cancelling existing cruise itineraries and imposing bans on cruise ships entering their port, in an attempt to restrain and control the transmission and importation of the deadly virus and protect their nationals.
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