You are here
Cruiseship Complex to get facelift
Enhancing the look of the Cruise Ship Complex is one of the many items on the agenda for the Port Authority of T&T (PATT). A fresh coat of paint on the roof and seaside walls of the building, expansion of the cultural welcome reception, and an upgrade of in-house facilities are some of the improvement planned for the industry in the new year.
PATT chairman Joseph Toney believes the industry has great potential but it requires a major effort. He said last year less than 25,000 visitors came to the country via cruise ships. “That’s not good enough,” he said. In an effort to attract more business, reception areas at the terminals in Trinidad and Tobago will be refurbished. Toney described the Port-of-Spain reception area as “a bus shed.”
The aim to maximise on a sector of the tourism industry which, according to research and statistics from the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, is the fastest-growing category of the leisure travel market. Since 1980, the industry has had average annual passenger growth rate of approximately 7.2 per cent.
Toney said improving facilities for the cruise sector are just part of the PATT’S plans to generate sustainable employment and foster national growth and development. “We have not been on the ball with it,” he admitted. “Other Caribbean countries have outpaced us in as so far as the cruise shipping industry is concerned.”
He hopes this year “this low hanging fruit” can be picked. In an interview with the Sunday Guardian at the Port Authority Administration Building, Dock Road, Port-of-Spain, Toney and PATT CEO Colin Lucas revealed plans to T&T a more attractive destination for cruise for operators.
$3 million upgrade to Tobago terminal
Refurbishing the reception areas will give some added life to the industry, particularly in Tobago. Toney said close to $3 million is being spent to upgrade the terminal in Scarborough. That work is expected to be completed by next month. PATT Deputy CEO Leon Grant explained that the cruise ship complex will now be a separate area with several facilities, including a variety store, taxi area, information desk, processing area and THA tourism booth.
Grant said the total upgrade of the Scarborough terminal will include construction of an arrival hall, expansion of the passenger waiting area, installing air-condition units on the ground floor and expansion of the check-in and ticketing areas. In Trinidad, however, more work was needed. Toney explained: “We need to get a good reception area for the tourists when they come from the ships.
“What the operators say is that these people are travelling in a first class facility, then sometimes when they come and meet the reception areas... in some countries it really is a bit of a let down.” He said incorporating more of T&T’s culture into the welcome experience is also being explored. “Right now when passengers disembark there’s a very small version of Carnival which includes the steelpan and moko jumbies but our culture is much more than that.
“We want to include a range of activities that showcase who we are.” Toney said the PATT is in talks with the Ministry of Tourism about moving the cruise industry forward. “A lot of work has to be done to improve the number of passengers who visit. However, I am happy that the Tourism Ministry is on the same page as the Port Authority as far as that is concerned and we look forward to working together.”
Lucas said at present there is a bar, souvenir shops, artefacts and clothing stores at the Port-of-Spain complex but these are not on par with the facilities on other Caribbean islands. “We want to have more accommodative surroundings for the passengers,” he said, adding that while the complex is limited in its resources and offerings, they are aiming for world-class standards.
Talks with Petrotrin for cheap fuel for operators
Operators bring the tourist—the country provides cheap fuel and according to Lucas its because Trinidad is the most southernly Caribbean island, ships burned more fuel to get here. Cruise operators feel they should capitalise on the country’s natural resource but Lucas believes this island is at a major disadvantage.
“The very location that is an advantage for us for containerised traffic is a disadvantage for tourists. The reason is that we are the most southernly port, so the ships burn more fuel to get to us. “We are not a sand and sea destination, we offer a different kind of tourism eco-tourism and so on. We need to package that in a way to include the fuel potential for competitive costs to make the package attractive,” he said.
Toney said discussions are being held with Petrotrin officials about this problem. He said cruise ship operators feel T&T should strike a bargain with them. They are willing to invest but want cheap fuel. “We are making a more deliberate and aggressive effort to have cruise ship operators return to our shores,” he said. “We are pursuing it. We are getting bunkers ready to store fuel and so on but I have to continue dialogue with Petrotrin.”
Shandilya: Cruises ship complex to crusie ship portal
Chairman of the Tourism Development Company (TDC) Rajiv Shandilya said T&T has to become a hub and products have to be packaged in a way that captures cruise ship passengers to make them want to return. He described the cruise ship industry as a market with billion dollar potential which needed to be branded and packaged smartly.
Apart from providing tour guides, the TDC is responsible for port side entertainment. He said that cannot be monotonous and needs to be more “character Trinidad”, so there will be changes to the cultural programme. “I want to move away from cruise ship complex to cruise ship portal,” Shandilya said. He said ships should want to sail 100 miles south to refuel, get water and other supplies such as agriculture.
“We have to become part of the supply chain.” He also felt that each passenger should spend US$100 when they disembark in T&T. According to his calculations, if each passenger spent that amount and there are about 2,000 passengers on a ship that would mean US$200,000 for domestic consumption.
“We must provide products that give them an incentive to return. We need to package the gems of Trinidad,” Shandilya said.
According to the PATT’s web site, ten cruise ships will dock in T&T between yesterday and April 2, bringing in close to 12,000 passengers.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.