PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten officials accompanied President of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Michele Paige and Cruise Line Executives to the House of Parliament on Monday afternoon where the FCCA gave a presentation to the permanent committee of parliament for Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (Committee TEATT).
The parliamentary committee agenda was an update on the state of affairs of the cruise industry.
The meeting with the parliament permanent committee TEATT was requested by Port St. Maarten in order for Members of Parliament to get first-hand information directly from the destinations cruise stakeholder the FCCA.
The FCCA stated that cruise destinations must not become complacent and to always be innovative in order to stay ahead as the cruise industry continues to grow. The cruise industry has grown from half a million to more than 23 million annually.
Caribbean cruise market share was once 50 per cent but is now over 35 per cent due to new markets opening up such as Australia, Asia and China. Destination St. Maarten needed to address the challenges and re-invent itself in order to move forward in a sustainable manner.
Port St. Maarten Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Mingo said that he has been speaking about the challenges regarding infrastructure as well as new tours and reinventing the cruise product for a few years, and saw it necessary to request and organize this very important meeting in order for Members of Parliament (MPs) to be aware of the current trends and developments within the cruise industry and how those would influence destination developments.
“I was very pleased with the exchange of information, the dialogue and questions and answers. Additional information will be provided in writing to MPs as requested.
“We would like to see action taken on those issues that are necessary in order to turn-around the St. Maarten cruise product. There are challenges, but with all hands on deck, we can re-invent the product, but Port St. Maarten cannot do it alone. This affects everybody, and everybody has to be on-board in order to make a difference and move our cruise product forward,” CEO Mark Mingo pointed out.
The Committee session in the House of Parliament lasted two hours allowing MPs to ask questions.
Reference was made by the FCCA about the BREA (Business Research & Economic Advisors) Report, which is a survey-based analysis of the impacts of passenger, crew and cruise line spending that was prepared for the FCCA and Participating Destinations. The most recent edition is October 2015.
Sint Maarten led all destinations with nearly US$423 million in cruise passenger spending, surpassing destinations like the Bahamas, Cozumel (Mexico), the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. Combined, these seven destinations with US$2.11 billion in direct expenditures, accounted for 67 per cent of the total cruise tourism expenditures among the 35 destinations.
35 destinations took part in the study. They were located in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central and South America.
During the 2014/2015 cruise year, cruise tourism generated US$3.16 billion in direct expenditures, 75,050 jobs and US$976 million in employee wages among the aforementioned destinations.
23.6 million cruise passengers disembarked cruise ships and visited the participating destinations or embarked on their cruise at one of the six homeports over the aforementioned period. These passengers spent $2.45 billion for shore excursions and other goods and services during the 2014/2015 cruise year. Average per passenger expenditures ranged from a low of $42.58 in Trinidad to a high of $191.26 in St. Maarten and averaged $103.83 per passenger visit across the 35 destinations.
St. Maarten with $355 million in total passenger expenditures led all destinations and accounted for 14 percent of total passenger spending among the 35 destinations.
An estimated 4.5 million crew members that visited the 35 participating destinations spent an estimated $302 million for goods and services during the 2014/2015 cruise year. Unlike passengers, shore excursions are not a focus of crew spending; rather, crew expenditures are more heavily weighted toward food and beverages, jewelry, and electronic goods. These were followed by spending for clothing and entertainment.
Sint Maarten had the second highest average expenditure of $119.13 per crew visit and the third highest number of crew onshore visits (377,400); Sint. Maarten had the second highest total expenditure among the 35 participating destinations, $45.0 million. In St. Maarten crew expenditures were also concentrated on retail purchases of electronics and jewelry. These were followed by spending for food and beverages and clothing. These four categories accounted for 70 percent of total crew spending in St. Maarten.
The $423 million in direct expenditures, in turn, generated an estimated 9,259 jobs paying $189 million in wage income during the 2014/2015 cruise year. This placed St. Maarten with the highest income impact and the second highest employment impact.
The FCCA represents 19 member cruise lines operating more than 100 vessels in Floridian, Caribbean and Latin American waters. It was created in 1972, and the mandate of the FCCA is to provide a forum for discussion on tourism development, ports, safety, security and other cruise industry issues.
By fostering an understanding of the cruise industry and its operating practices, the FCCA seeks to build cooperative relationships with its partner destinations and to develop productive bilateral partnerships with every sector. The FCCA works with governments, ports and all private/public sector representatives to maximize cruise passenger, cruise line and cruise line employee spending, as well as enhancing the destination experience and the amount of cruise passengers returning as stay-over visitors.
PHOTO CUTLINE: The FCCA delegation and Cruise Line Executives led by Michele Paige and Members of Parliament from the Committee TEATT that attended the two-hour session on Monday.