In the latest edition of The Superyacht Group’s Digital Dialogues, William Mathieson speaks with Barrett Wright, president of Hill Robinson USA, ahead of the Caribbean cruising season to gauge the current state of the market and the challenges still faced.
Having joined the yachting industry in 2003 and working on board sailing yachts in the Caribbean, Barrett later moved shoreside and worked a Fontaine Design Group and Friendship Yacht Company before joining Hill Robinson in 2010 and becoming president of Hill Robinson USA in 2015. As such, Barrett very much has her finger on the pulse of the US market.
“If you look at the marinas and shipyards in the US, they are packed, there is barely any room to breathe,” starts Barrett. “Right now people are marshalling and they are going to see whether or not there is going to be much of a Caribbean season. There is a lot of interest out there and I think people are just waiting a little bit before committing for the Christmas and New Year season.
Barrett highlights that a certain degree of melancholy has settled on the US and its citizens because, as with many nations around the world, because of the sheer extent of the bad news in 2020. “People fear that they will go to the grocery store and come back with COVID, but this has really made people look forward to being away and privacy that is enabled through the vessels and private aviation has made this possible,” she says.
As resorts in the Bahamas begin to provide opening dates, all be they on a smaller scale, and the various Caribbean islands make clear their respective sets of protocols for potential visitors, the idea of travelling to the Caribbean in the winter is becoming far more of a reality for many. However, Barrett does express caution over the ever-changing COVID landscape.
“Obviously clients have to be 100 per cent up to date with travel restrictions and testing protocols depending on the places that you are going to,” Barrett explains. “There are a lot of factors beyond our control and we can only know as much as we know because change occurs daily. Perhaps the one major hang-up for potential visitors is the ‘what if?’ factor, this remains a concern for managers and guests.”
Elsewhere within the interview Mathieson and Barrett discuss the practical issues considerations for visiting the Caribbean, COVID protocols for yachts and crew, crew movement and the US regulatory landscape and its stance on the yachting market. To watch the full interview, click here.
Barrett Wright, president of Hill Robinson USA
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