“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17 

The tourism sector’s “Economic Gearing System” is mainly driven by the arrival of tourists on airlines and cruise ships from far and wide. Good balance between these drivers augurs well for the recovery and future of the hospitality industry which has been dealt a severe COVID-19 blow.

My first cruise was as a post graduate student travelling with my fiancé from Barbados to England in 1963 on a banana boat of the Fyffes Line. Airline travel was not as accessible as it has since become so that was not an option. Traditional student accommodation was in four berth bunks where you had to rough it.

However, we were made aware of limited space availability accommodation in “first class”, which was being offered to students at half price and decided, with the concurrence of our parents, to take it. Even though we had to follow the protocol of dressing for dinner, it turned out to be good value for money. We returned to Trinidad and Tobago five years later on the Fyffes Line, having started a family.

Apart from a weekend cruise to The Bahamas out of Miami to attend my best man’s 25th wedding anniversary, that has been the extent of my cruise experience.

Since the demise of the Caribbean banana export industry, the cruise line industry has rapidly developed and was in great demand up to February 2020.

Marie Nieves, in her June 12, 2019 blog entitled “Hospitality Sector: Cruises vs. Hotels (Pros and Cons)”, concludes that after comparing these two industries, both of them offer different benefits in order to accommodate a wide range of their customers’ needs. Indeed, one can benefit from the other.

Over the years, I have also observed that cruise visitors are often very impressed with their one-day destination experiences that they want to return for the longer stay experience thus providing a boost to the hotel industry. This provides an opportunity for hotels to market their products in collaboration with the cruise line. And yes, I do understand that this is easier said than done.

Caribbean cruise tourism has not been spared the impact of COVID-19, particularly since the cruise ship environment can be very conducive to the spread of the disease. The operations of cruise lines have therefore had to be quickly halted. Public health protocols and online portals have been developed to facilitate the protection of the lives of travelers, and the resumption of the travel industry livelihoods. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) comprehensive framework for a phased resumption of cruise ship passenger operations is under review by the cruise lines, which are unlikely to resume sailing until next year.

Communication is the key to reestablishing relationships between stakeholders in the hospitality industry. As we turn towards a new normal for the tourism sector, smart partnerships between destinations, cruise lines, airlines, hotels and attractions, will be imperative if we are to achieve win-win results.

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is a Change-Engine Consultant. His email address is basilgf@marketplaceexcellence.com. His columns may be found at www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com/basil-springer-column/ and on www.facebook.com/basilgf).