POINTE BLANCHE:--- Port St. Maarten representatives recently returned from attending Seatrade Cruise Med 2018, the world’s largest cruise industry event focused on the Mediterranean and adjoining seas.
The St. Maarten delegation included Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Stuart Johnson and representatives of his Cabinet, and the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau.
The event brought together over 2600 industry professionals; 160+ exhibiting companies; 60 countries represented; and 30+ cruise line brands.
Seatrade Cruise Med 2018 took place from September 19-20 at the FIL Lisbon Exhibition and Congress Centre in Lisbon, Portugal and was an integral element of Portugal Shipping Week.
The theme for the cruise conference and exhibition was, “Sustaining the future of cruise across the Mediterranean and adjoining seas.”
Seatrade Cruise Med 2018 brought together a mix of ports and destinations, tourism authorities, ground handlers, tour operators, port agents, cruise associations, technical equipment and hotel suppliers showcasing their services and products to the cruise industry and related sectors.
The Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) was also present representing the mutual interests of the cruise industry and destinations/stakeholders in the Caribbean and Latin America. The trade associations mission was to further connect the regions to Europe. Port St. Maarten was part of the FCCA Pavilion at the conference.
“Attending this very important cruise conference was one of my first official visits to meet with cruise industry stakeholders, movers and shakers. I was honored to further promote destination St. Maarten and witness first-hand Port St. Maarten’s awareness and track record among the cruise executives.
“I commend Port St. Maarten Management, staff and the Management and Staff at the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau for their hard work in promoting the destination and bringing us back to the forefront post hurricane Irma and Maria. Those entities along with local stakeholders and cruise partners have worked diligently over the past 12-months and much has been achieved. However, I will be diligently working to address some pending concerns and formulate a new approach in tourism.
“I was very pleased to learn about industry trends and developments. I fully intend on making sure our country reaps any opportunity possible within the coming months. It’s time to make sure our country even exceeds its old potential,” Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs Stuart Johnson said on Tuesday.
“The conference and exhibition featured a full networking programme and it was a success for the port. It was essential for us as a gateway port and destination to be present and meet with European cruise line executives. Many of the European executives have shown interests in the destination.
“There was a lot of attention for homeporting. Additional cruise lines have shown interests due to St. Maarten’s strategic location in the north eastern Caribbean, the established airlinks to North, Latin America, and Europe, the diversity experience offered to cruise passengers, such as shopping, cuisine, tours and much more, continues to catch the eye of the industry.
“The port is diligently working with stakeholders to offer packages to passengers of homeporting lines. Between 20 and 30 per cent of homeporting passengers take a pre- or post-cruise vacation. Normally, passengers have two to three days before they board the vessel for a cruise, and upon their return they also have the same number of days before they depart the island to return to their country.
“We would like to offer them a luxury vacation package. This will be very beneficial for the destination as it will further add to economic activity throughout the local economy,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Tuesday.
Rainforest Adventures received an award for being the most innovative shore excursion, and Port St. Maarten would like to use this opportunity to congratulate them on this achievement especially seeing what the country went through after the September 2017 hurricanes, the local excursion was still able to capture this award which once again demonstrates the resilience of St. Maarten as a cruise destination.
“There were a number of speakers from across the industry who provided a look at the State of the Industry. Speakers also addressed meeting future demand, best practices to mitigate cruising’s carbon footprint and opportunities in new destinations.
“We are able to get information about global cruise industry shipbuilding trends which continues to be impressive. Current construction of new vessels is valued at more than US$57 billion delivering 100 newbuilds between now and 2027.
“Seatrade Cruise Med presented a platform to discuss various issues that impact the cruise sector, whether they are challenges or opportunities. The information gathered goes towards our strategic planning as a cruise port over the mid-to-long-term.
“We were able to inform them about preparations for US-pre-clearance and the cruise industry executives that we spoke with found this to be a big plus for the destination. Interests was also shown in our Port Community System as well as Information Technology developments for vacation destinations,” Port St. Maarten Management added.
Seatrade Cruise Med 2018 was hosted by the Port of Lisbon Authority and supported by MedCruise (The Association of Mediterranean Cruise Ports).
Principal regional sponsors included: Republica Portuguesa-Mar; Lisboa Camara Municipal; Turismo de Portugal; Turismo de Lisboa; Lisbon Cruise Port. Sponsors included: Gibraltar Tourist Board and Intercruises Shoreside & Port Services. Supporters included: Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the FCCA.
Seatrade Cruise Med is held biennially. During the conference the General Assembly of MedCruise took place. MedCruise represents over 20 per cent of the global cruise traffic with more than 100 members in the Black Sea, Red Sea, Adriatic, West and East Med and Near Atlantic.
In 2017 MedCruise handled 25.9 million passenger movements with 28 million forecast for 2018.