Port St. Maarten at Seatrade Europe. Plans to increase European Market Share

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POINTE BLANCHE, Port St. Maarten – Seatrade Europe Cruise & River Cruise Convention kicked off on Wednesday in Hamburg, Germany, where a delegation from Port St. Maarten is representing the country at the Caribbean Village.

Port St. Maarten Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Mingo, on Wednesday from Hamburg, stated that the conference is important for destination St. Maarten where it brings together industry decision makers and insiders to discuss and set new trends, and network.

Mingo and his delegation were informed about the state of the industry which revealed that economic output is all up 18 per cent since 2009; source market up 14 per cent; direct expenditures up 18 per cent; and cruise employment up 18 per cent.

“European lines are investing in building new ships.  The Europeans are responsible for around 50 per cent of the new builds.  Despite the challenges that Europe is facing, the dilemma of the massive shifts of refugees impacting the economies along with weak economies, there are a lot of opportunities for St. Maarten.

“We learnt that the European lines will also be launching new technology vessels running on dual fuel usage including LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas).  The state of the industry report clearly indicated the leader will be ports that have an answer to the fueling strategy of LNG vessels.

“Ports will have to cater to these new vessels, and indeed Port St. Maarten has prepared itself with this new development and created the new Harbour Fueling Company together with TNO (Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research) which was based on the business meeting with the Dutch Government over a year ago. This will impact the growth of cruise calls.

“Other topics brought forward so far at the conference specifically to deal with important matters for Ports and Governments were, improving Port Infrastructure, impact on inconsistent European Union policy enforcement which includes French St. Martin; less restrictive visa processes and localized issues and unrest in historic destinations.

“The aforementioned does impact St. Maarten.  Europe loses a potential of six million new visitors due to visa restrictions. This is killing for European Cruise passengers. I am very disappointed with the approach of French St. Martin still wanting to compete with the Dutch side of the Island. I could remember discussing this where European funding is just not the way to compete with us.

“Port St. Maarten will continue to remain focused and develop our strategic plans to keep destination St. Maarten ahead.  We will be taking an aggressive approach in order to increase European market share.  Our participation in Seatrade Europe is indispensable for building new relationships and intensifying existing ones,” CEO Mingo concluded.

The world’s fastest growing source market to support it, the cruise industry in Europe has taken its place in the mainstream of the leisure sector.  Industry peers and experts at Seatrade Europe are debating the opportunities and challenges that go with the aforementioned status during the two and half days of high-level conference, covering a broad spectrum of topics.

In Europe, the market has grown by an impressive 44 per cent since 2008 where a total of 6.4 million guests from Europe went on board in European ports in 2014.  The sales volume was 40.2 billion Euros, and the number of jobs have increased to 349,000.

Seatrade Europe brings together 250 exhibitors from 50 nations with their products, services and innovations, and runs from 9 to 11 September.

PHOTO CUTLINE: CEO Mark Mingo (3rd from left) and Cindy D’Aoust (4th from left), President of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) along with Port St. Maarten team member and CLIA Marketing team reps at the Port St. Maarten booth cocktail reception to embrace the development of St. Maarten as a premier cruise destination.