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Record Participation from High-Level Cruise Executives and Government Officials Display and Further Build Partnership

November 10, 2018 Cruise No Comments Email Email

During yesterday’s Chair Talk workshop at the FCCA Cruise Conference & Trade Show, Richard Fain, chairman of Royal Caribbean Cruises, praised “the importance of a conference like this…to bring [the government officials and cruise line executives] together and help us to work better together.”

That was on full display this morning during the event’s keynote meeting, the Heads of Government Forum. A long-term fixture of the event to build partnership and discuss topics at both a destination and regional level, this year’s meeting was amplified by a historic delegation of both high-level cruise executives and destination representatives.

In addition to numerous cruise executives representing various sectors, eight presidents or above participated: Micky Arison, chairman, Carnival Corporation; Christine Duffy, president, Carnival Cruise Line; Roberto Fusaro, president, MSC Cruises USA; Adam Goldstein, vice chairman, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and chairman, FCCA; Jason Montague, president and CEO, Regent Seven Seas Cruises; Richard Sasso, chairman, MSC Cruises USA; Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman, MSC Cruises; and Jeff Vahle, president, Disney Signature Experiences.

They were joined by the event’s largest-ever high-level government delegation, with more than 30 ministers of tourism and above, including Barbados Prime Minister Hon. Mia Amor Mottley; British Virgin Islands (BVI) Premier Dr. The Hon. D. Orlando Smith; Cayman Islands Premier Hon. Alden McLaughin; Montserrat Premier Hon. Donaldson Romeo; Puerto Rico Governor Hon. Ricardo Rossello; Saint Lucia Prime Minister Allan Chastanet; and the State of Yucatan Governor Hon. Mauricio Vila Dosal. Also participating were mayors or ministers, commissioners or secretaries of tourism from Antigua & Barbuda; Belize; Curacao; Dominica; Cozumel, Mexico; Dominican Republic; Grenada; Guadeloupe; Haiti; Honduras; Martinique; Panama; Progreso, Mexico; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; State of Baja California, Mexico; State of Sinaloa, Mexico; St. Maarten; Trinidad and Tobago; and United States Virgin Islands (USVI).

Governor Rosello opened the forum by underlining its importance in engaging a full joint effort between the private and public sectors, along with showing Puerto Rico’s commitment to cruise tourism. He addressed the challenges because of the hurricane, but told it also led to an opportunity to build back better—not only through infrastructure, but also in policy to promote a platform to “innovate and create a new environment.” He then shared Puerto Rico’s “road map” for the future, involving policy measures, moving forward on strategic bets like tourism and destination marketing.

He stressed, however, that this map was not meant to only be local and told that the entire region must work together. “If we come together, I am convinced that…will be the best path for all of us.”

The forum then engaged in a roundtable format to discuss points including ways to drive year-round traffic by refusing to rest on laurels and seeking constant improvement and long-term planning, as well as topics such as employment opportunities and purchasing and sourcing. Overall, the focus was fixed on fostering partnership.

“It’s clear that the bond of the industry and destinations is as strong or stronger than it has ever been,” told Mr. Goldstein, and as a further sign of the industry’s commitment, five of the cruise operators detailed their planned investments throughout the region.

However, embracing Mr. Sasso’s earlier tenet, “if it’s not broken, make it better,” the forum helped further foster the partnership—from the reception preceding the meeting and the subsequent discussions on developing strategic alliances, to the presentations by BVI Premier Dr. The Hon. D. Orlando Smith; Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC) Executive Director Carla Campos; St. Maarten Minister of Tourism Hon. Stuart Johnson; and USVI Commissioner Hon. Beverly Nicholson-Doty. The presentations concentrated on best practices, lessons learned and long-term plans and improvements through their remarkable recoveries after last year’s hurricane season, assisted by their united efforts with both each other and the first-ever joint destination meetings with the FCCA Operations Committee taking place in April, June and September 2018. And further in the spirit of helping their neighbors throughout the region, the Eastern Caribbean delegation is formulating those best practices into a document to share with the entire region.

Throughout the meeting Mr. Vago reinforced similar themes of partnership and challenging the status quo from his opening ceremony keynote address on Tuesday. “We are gathered here for a purpose. We need to take advantage of the opportunities to collaborate. We can and must do more to make good on our promises to continue promoting Caribbean cruising. Together, we can keep the Caribbean as the world’s most important destination for cruising for many years to come.”

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