Cruise industry invests heavily in new vesselsPOSTED: 10/5/12 1:11 PM
Minister Pantophlet (second from left) and Harbor CEO Mingo r) at the FCCA-conference in Willemstad.
GREAT BAY / WILLEMSTAD – Tourism and Economic Affairs Minister Romeo Pantophlet attended the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association conference in Curacao this week together with Harbor Group of Companies CEO Mark Mingo. “St. Maarten must further enhance its cruise facilities. We are reaching ten years after the expansion and that means that with the higher repeat of guests, new offerings and enhancement is a must for us to survive,” Minister Pantophlet said.
Industry growth was one of the headlines at the FCCA-conference. The Caribbean remains a dominant cruise destination with a market share of 39.8 percent of all cruise itineraries in 2011 – below the 2010 figure (41.3) but higher than the one from 2009 (37.02).
The cruise industry will invest heavily in the next two to three years: 26 new cruise ships will come into service – 17 ocean going vessels and 9 European and American river boats with a combined value of $12 billion. The conference ends today.
St. Maarten has overcome the USVI with passenger expenditure according the BREA study that was presented on at the conference. Passenger expenditure totaled $185.40 comparing to the regional average of $97. The survey was taken by 28000 passengers and 8000 crew members.
St. Maarten is one the few countries that showed both an increase in passenger spending and passenger arrival.
Minister Pantophlet stated that customer satisfaction and traffic alleviation will be the main focus in the near future. These key factors will be crucial in the coming time to continue to secure business growth and passenger arrivals.
More focus also has to placed on the diversity of the merchandise being sold on the island.
Harbor Group of companies CEO Mark Mingo stated that the port will continue to develop its product to meet the needs of the cruise lines with quality service and operational excellence while providing a safe and secure environment for customers.
Mingo mentioned on many occasions that competition is increasing and that a keen eye will be kept on St. Kitts developments. The BREA report also unveiled that St. Kitts passenger arrivals increased by 50%.
St. Maarten has always been used as a model throughout the Caribbean in the cruise industry, he said. The level of service offered on the various Caribbean islands was also discussed during a panel presentation. It was stated that the Caribbean has to increase the level of service to keep competing with other emerging cruise regions.