Cruise conference opens at port facility “St. Maarten earned these passengers”     

POSTED: 10/8/14 1:28 PM

St. Maarten – Michele Paige, President of the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, opened the 21st Annual FCCA Cruise Conference and Trade show Opening Ceremony last night at the Port of St. Maarten, saying, “The event comes with a lot of hard work. It’s with your hard work that the FCCA exists.” This is the second time St. Maarten has played host to the FCCA event. Kevin Sheehan, President and CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line/FCCA Chairman took the stage to discuss the cruise industry and St. Maarten’s part in it. He commended the island’s representatives and the people of St. Maarten for their efforts in sustaining its cruise tourism industry and the measures it takes to ensure the return of cruise passengers to the island each year. “St. Maarten earned these passengers. They weren’t handed to them.” In 2013, approximately 1.7 million cruise passengers visited the island. He went on to say that “our strength comes from all of us working cohesively to enhance our common goals.”

In his state industry address, Adam Goldstein, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, commended St. Maarten for its “fantastic and successful leadership in this industry.” He pointed out that the cruise industry is a 100 billion dollar industry around the world. 27.1 million People will take a cruise this year. Even though the Caribbean is a premiere destination for cruise lines, Goldstein said more investment dollars need to flow into the Caribbean. “The best way to maximize revenue at a destination is if more cruises come to that destination.”

He pointed out several interesting finds in the executive summary. Cruise passengers care more about their ports of call and the experiences at those destinations than staying aboard the cruise ships themselves; cultural heritage ranked high on what cruise passengers cared about during their cruise experience; passengers were more interested in the shopping experience at their destinations rather than the shopping offered aboard the ships. “We would like to be in alignment with the industry in the branding attributes,” said Goldstein. In closing, he urged the officials and representatives of the island destinations that cruise passengers visit to eliminate crimes of any form against tourists.

Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic and Telecommunication Ted Richardson said that the island’s slogan, “The Friendly Island,” is not just a marketing gimmick to attract tourists, but a true representation of the island and its people. “How did we get St. Maarten to what it is? How did we make it work? Sustainability comes from the heart to make it work,” said Richardson.

The FCCA organized an inter-island essay competition as part of this event. In an essay, students are asked to explain why it is important that cruise ships go to their islands. Gabrielle Pratt from Jamaica was the winner of the junior competition, while Leigha Burke from Tortola, BVI, was the winner of the senior division.

Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, Minister Ted Richardson and Managing Director of St. Maarten Harbour Group of Companies (SHGC) Mark Mingo all received awards for their efforts in sustaining and developing St. Maarten’s cruise industry.

 

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