• Says ‘little or no product’ to get passengers off-ship
• Truth ‘No.1 tour is lodge facilities tells you numerous’
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Enterprise Editor
A senior Carnival Company government yesterday warned Nassau wants to enhance extra than simply its port amenities on condition that three-quarters of passengers declined to ebook excursions pre-COVID.
Giora Israel, the cruise group’s senior vice-president for port and vacation spot growth, advised Tribune Enterprise the Bahamian capital should do way more to overtake its “product” post-pandemic because the id of its hottest tour, visits to locals inns and their facilities, “tells you numerous”.
Whereas praising the private-public partnership (PPP) with World Ports Holding for Prince George Wharf’s $268m transformation, Mr Israel mentioned he and different Carnival executives had repeatedly urged the federal government to continuously refresh Nassau’s sights, excursions and excursions providing if it was to rebuild its repute as a number one tourism vacation spot.
He defined that this was particularly vital as most of the passengers on Carnival’s three, 4 and five-night cruises by The Bahamas have been repeat clients who had visited the town earlier than, and due to this fact wanted new and thrilling actions to entice them off the ship.
“I believe that the maritime enhancements which are being carried out, including energy to one of many piers and increasing one other, are welcome,” Mr Israel advised this newspaper of Nassau cruise port upgrades. “Enhancing the arrivals expertise is welcome as effectively. We’re inspired this stuff are being carried out.”
Acknowledging that Carnival was a part of a rival bid, with different main cruise traces, which misplaced out to World Ports Holding for the cruise port contract, he warned that the cruise line’s reward got here with “caveats” and that simply enhancing the port by itself won’t be sufficient to enhance Nassau’s standing as a cruise vacation spot.
“One of many points we’ve acknowledged to the Bahamian authorities is what Nassau wants greater than the maritime amenities is the enhancement of the vacation spot for actions,” Mr Israel mentioned. “Over time there was little or no product to supply folks coming repeatedly.
“It’s not the port itself, it’s the product; the provision of” new sights and excursions for passengers on short-haul cruises who’ve visited Nassau earlier than on earlier journeys. Within the absence of recent and upgraded merchandise, Mr Israel added: “Previous to COVID-19, we have been solely in a position to promote 26 p.c to twenty-eight p.c of passengers a tour.”
This, he added, meant that solely 700-800 passengers on a 3,000-person cruise ship went on a tour or tour, limiting the earnings and income earned by the Bahamian-owned tourism operators that sometimes populate this house.
“Some don’t get off the ship,” the Carnival government added, as some perceived there was little to do in Nassau past buying whereas others went off on their very own sight-seeing.
“What a terrific vacation spot wants, and it’s true anyplace on the planet, is that folks come to a vacation spot wanting issues to do, excursions and so forth,” Mr Israel mentioned. “There are some ports within the Caribbean that reinvent themselves and add new sights.”
Emphasising that he spoke from private expertise, having spent 4 years in The Bahamas whereas creating the Coral World attraction that launched in 1984, he reiterated: “There’s little or no product for lodge friends, vacationers, and the very fact the primary tour in The Bahamas is to go to the facilities of a lodge tells you numerous.”
Atlantis, specifically, developed a major income stream from cruise passengers visiting its water park and different amenities on day passes previous to COVID-19. That can doubtless rebound as soon as the cruise trade resumes crusing once more, though such earnings might need to be break up with Baha Mar as soon as its $200m Baha Bay facility comes on-line this summer time.
Mr Israel’s feedback articulated long-standing cruise trade considerations and requires The Bahamas’ to improve its product providing in each Nassau and Freeport, and can reignite fears that passenger spending and yields won’t enhance even with the brand new $268m cruise port.
That facility, in addition to meals and beverage and retail choices, may also embrace an amphitheatre performing as an leisure venue for reside live performance and music occasions in a bid to entice the cruise ships to remain in port in a single day.
Whereas the weaknesses within the downtown Nassau/Bay Avenue tourism product have lengthy been recognized, some within the Bahamian tourism trade will doubtless reply to Mr Israel’s feedback by asserting that the decline has not been helped by the absence of a real partnership with the cruise traces.
They may level to the trade’s elevated use of personal islands forward of Nassau and Freeport; the traces leaving their retail, restaurant and different amenities open whereas in port; restrictions on the mark-ups native operators are allowed; and the cruise sector’s transfer into this house with their very own sights similar to Royal Caribbean’s proposed Paradise Island ‘seaside break’ vacation spot.
In the meantime Marie McKenzie, Carnival’s international ports and Caribbean authorities relations vice-president, mentioned the corporate and remainder of the cruise ship trade have been “not fairly certain but once we will begin crusing” as they proceed to work with the US Centres for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) on acquiring all the required COVID-19 well being protocols.
Acknowledging that the method was “somewhat gradual”, she added that the cruise trade and Caribbean nations had fashioned a working group to make sure that regional well being protocols have been uniform, aligned and didn’t fluctuate between nations when the trade returned.
The Bahamas was a part of this group, and Ms McKenzie mentioned Carnival has engaged in direct talks with Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister of tourism and aviation, and native well being professionals on the protocols that might be adopted. Nonetheless, these measures will solely be finalised as soon as the CDC points its personal set of rules to make sure there may be conformity with the US.