Royal Caribbean CEO: Bahamas must improve services, products to increase cruise visitor spend

The Bahamas has to improve cruise passenger spend by increasing the products and experiences offered to those tourists when they come ashore, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) President and CEO Michael Bayley said Thursday. He added that the average cruise passenger spend is likely somewhere in between what the government has traditionally pegged it at, and the level at which the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) recently suggested it might be.

Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said last month that exit surveys suggested that the average spend in New Providence by cruise ship passengers is in the range of $70 per passenger, but he said it could actually be much higher. The FCCA said it could be as high as $130.

“I deal a lot with statistics and numbers,” said Bayley. “It’s not unusual that there is one group with one set of numbers and another group with a different perspective. What’s the correct number? It’s probably something in the middle, because a lot of it is just based upon calculations and good faith estimating.”

However, he insisted that instead of worrying about the spend, attention should be focused on developing the products and experiences that will cause cruise passenger spend to increase.

“What we know is there is opportunity to always improve the spend of tourists when they come to destinations,” Bayley said.

“And you improve spend by providing services and products and experiences that customers are more than happy to pay for, but you have to do the market research; you have to understand what the customers are expecting and looking for; you have to understand the competitive environment that everybody’s operating in.

“People experience products and service in different ways, and I think that opportunity, regardless of what the spend number is, is how you improve it, and I think that is something we can work with the government and the tourism ministry on to really improve, because we do have good ideas, I think, in terms of how to deliver great experiences.”

The average stopover visitor to New Providence spends between $1,400 and $1,500.

D’Aguilar said last month that for the first eight months of 2018, an additional 150,000 stopover visitors (over last year’s figures) has resulted in $225 million in additional expenditure in the Bahamian economy.

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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