Senior executives from the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) met with the Prime Minister, senior tourism officials and various cruise stakeholders in St. Kitts on 9 August to discuss the future of the island’s cruise market.
Led by president Michele Paige, the FCCA delegation held a major meeting with taxi and tour operators, Port Zante merchants, primate handlers, aloe rub vendors and hair braiders. Also in attendance were Carlos De Navarra, vice president of commercial port operations at Carnival Cruise Line, and Federico Gonzalez-Denton, assistant vice president of government relations for Latin America and Caribbean at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.
Paige said that visitor feedback is important, and that ultimately it is the cruise passengers who decide which destination a ship will visit.
“That is why it is so important that stakeholders embrace regulations,” Paige said. “Regulations are going to protect your tourism sector by making guests feel comfortable and safe in your destination.
Paige also challenged St Kitts to identify new product offerings or improve service standards and enforce safety standards; review taxi and tours; provide ongoing training to enforce regulations and standards; and improve public restrooms accessibility and overall destination cleanliness.
“What they have to tell us is indeed very important, as we seek to grow the tourism sector, and of course improve the quality of the guests’ experience on our lovely island,” said Minister of Tourism, The Honourable Lindsay Grant.
Last year, 758,420 cruise passengers visited St. Kitts, a number which is set to rise to a record 900,000 guests in 2016. This far, the island has already welcomed 21 inaugural cruise ship calls, the most ever in a season.
In 2015, total cruise expenditure in St. Kitts was US$84.3 million, an increase from 2012, when the total expenditure was US$70.6 million. The average spend per passenger has also increased from US$108.90 in 2012 to US$111.30 in 2015.
“This is indeed significant, for while average expenditures across the Caribbean have declined, we continue to increase,” Minister Grant said. “This phenomenal growth in cruise tourism should further propel the development of cultural and heritage tourism especially considering the fact that many cruise passengers are attracted to that niche market and want that experience.”