Barbados has reaped its first major reward for providing a safe haven for cruise ships left out to sea by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The island on Tuesday copped the Destination of the Year Award, announced in Hamburg, Germany by Ingo Sorensen, assistant vice president , Global Cruise Sales, Oracle Hospitality, at the virtual Seatrade Cruise Awards.
Describing it as a “well-deserved award”, Minister of Tourism Senator Lisa Cummins, former chairman of Barbados Port Inc., told Nation News the award “has come at a time when tourism needs all of the impetus and all of the boost that it can get”.
Oracle Hospitality were the principal sponsors of the 14th Cruise Awards scheme.
The award is given to a region, tourism body or association which has made significant strides in promoting cruise tourism over the past 12 months and the three finalists in the category were Barbados, Cruise Copenhagen and St Kitts and Nevis.
Announcing the results, Sorensen said: “During the COVID-19 pandemic Barbados remained a place where home porting cruise lines found a safe haven, warmth and hospitality. In addition, ships were able to collaborate with the Bridgetown Port and the broader destination to repatriate crew.”
Cummins said Barbados excelled in two areas: “I think in particular, one of the key things we should pay attention to is that Barbados distinguished itself not just as a cruise destination but as a humanitarian cruise destination that stood by our cruise partners in their time of greatest trouble.”
The Minister of Tourism said it was for her “a double pleasure, because I would have been chairman of the Port for the duration of the time that this award would have covered and I was very proud of leading that team during that period”.
She praised the team at the Bridgetown Port for the hard work done in the accommodation of the ships.
Barbados provided safe harbour for over 25 ships from various international cruise lines and there are still three ships offshore.
Cummins said Barbados had managed to exceed the original projection of 840 000 cruise passengers by about 10 000 when COVID-19 brought the cruise season to an abrupt halt.