Merida, Mexico (October, 26 2017) – Antigua & Barbuda’s cruise tourism officials, along with key private sector partners, attended the annual FCCA Cruise Marketing Conference in an effort to continue to sustain the strong growth in its cruise ship arrivals. This comes on the heels of the major investment of over USD$50M made by the Government in the country’s cruise tourism infrastructure last year.
These upgrades were critical in positioning the destination to attract increased calls following the changes in regional cruise ship itineraries post Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The conference enabled participants to share in industry best practices, such as “Creating the Ultimate Destination Experience” and a “Crisis Management” session where St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Allan Chastanet delivered the keynote address on behalf of the OECS.
In a series of one-on-one meetings, the Antigua & Barbuda Tourism delegation, which included the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, The Antigua and Barbuda Port Authority and The St. John’s Development Corporation met with cruise-line officials from Royal Caribbean Cruise lines (RCCL), Holland America, Carnival, MSC, and Disney Cruise lines. The opportunity was used to update the FCCA cruise executives on the latest improvement to the product, marketing initiatives and planned upgrades and timelines for further improvements to port infrastructure.
Antigua and Barbuda’s destination booth was a hub of activity as the private sector partners took advantage of the opportunity to secure more cruise line business for their respective companies. A key highlight of the destination’s booth display this year was the inclusion of GFS – a Romanian-based investment group who shared their plans for a new beach facility that will present a new and attractive excursion that will no doubt increase the customer satisfaction for our cruise passengers with the corresponding increase in their spending on island.
Attendance at the annual FCCA Cruise Marketing Convention provides unrivalled meeting and networking opportunities for the international cruise industry to foster relationships, generate new business and share in the exciting innovations that will enhance the experience of today’s discerning cruise community.
All cruise lines that were engaged confirmed that Antigua and Barbuda would receive increased calls for the upcoming cruise season 2017/18 as they expressed confidence in our current infrastructure and Antigua and Barbuda’s ability to adequately accommodate their guests in a safe environment.
Of special mention on this season’s calendar was the arrival of MSC Seaside on her maiden voyage from Europe with St. John’s being the first port of call on December 17. This ship is the newest in MSC’s fleet, which has been dubbed the “High Tech Cruise Ship.” Local Cruise tourism executives have already begun plans to give the ship a memorable welcome to mark this occasion.
In a meeting with Michelle Paige, President of the FCCA Operations Committee, CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority Colin C. James thanked the FCCA President and their member lines on behalf of the Government and people of Antigua and Barbuda for the generous assistance in relief and building supplies that have been received so far from the cruise lines.
The FCCA President further reiterated the industry’s support for the destination when she commented, “The support for Antigua and Barbuda is not just limited to relief, it’s a partnership that continues with FCCA engaging the various member states on a communications bank in our joint marketing initiative “The Caribbean is Open,” to which we are delighted that Antigua and Barbuda is fully committed.” This initiative features celebrity Jennifer Lopez as a key spokesperson for the region on www.thecaribbeanisopen.com
Antigua and Barbuda has clearly positioned itself to take advantage of the forecasted global growth in cruise tourism as a direct result of the Government’s efforts to position cruise tourism as a top strategic priority. The destination is forecasted to be on the crest of this wave and see even more growth in cruise ship passenger arrivals with the planned completion of its fifth (5th) berth in 2018.