CTO’s Skerritt plugs for more summer cruise shipsWritten by CUOPM
BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, (CUOPM) – Talks centered on tackling the issue of the mass repositioning of cruise ships from the southern Caribbean in the summer months and to improve the overall competitiveness of the Caribbean for summer cruising were discussed between a delegation from the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and officials from the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA).
A statement issued by the Barbados-based CTO, said that the delegation, headed by its Chairman and St. Kitts and Nevis Tourism Minister, Sen. the Hon. Richard Skerritt said the CTO expressed concern over the continued massive loss of cruise business, particularly from the southern and eastern Caribbean, due to the seasonal repositioning of vessels from the Caribbean to other ports.
The region’s tourism development agency says this practice results in significant economic loss to local businesses and economies during this prolonged period of economic slowdown.
“We ask that together we begin a new examination of the issues related to this concern so that the Caribbean, especially those islands farther to the east and south, can become more competitive in the summer cruise business without compromising the financial performance of the cruise lines,” Skerritt said, adding that he hoped for a viable solution that would result in a win-win situation for the cruise lines and the Caribbean.
The CTO statement said that the meeting last week also provided both sides an opportunity “to listen to each other’s concerns and to explore ways to confront the situation in a manner that is mutually beneficial.
“Both sides agreed to a broad frame-work which includes conducting and sharing “a substantial amount of information- gathering and research”. They have also designated representatives from both teams to follow-up on ideas related to marketing and product development, and to report on progress made when the group meets again at a proposed meeting in June,” the statement said.
The cruise industry is a significant component of the region’s tourism mix and the Caribbean remains a highly desirable winter cruising destination.
In 2010 the region’s cruise passenger arrivals grew by six percent, continuing the phenomenal growth experienced over the past four decades with the numbers climbing from just over one million cruise visits in 1970 to over 20 million last year.
“CTO leaders want this strong consumer demand for the region in the cruise industry to be developed year round, with more summer business resulting,’ the statement said.
For the first time in the history of cruise tourism two cruise ships are visiting St. Kitts during the summer making year-round calls to this destination.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s 2,501-passenger capacity Serenade of the Seas and Carnival’s Victory will make a total of 31 calls during the off-season bringing an estimated 88,000 passengers to St. Kitts.
The 2,189-passeenger Serenade of the Seas will make a total of 11 calls between May and September with an estimated passenger capacity of 27,000.