Sarah: “Cruise industry needs a comprehensive and collective approach”

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PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — As “reviews” come in from the Sea Trade Cruise Global 2017 (Seatrade) just recently concluded in Fort Lauderdale, we hear much of the same following any conference of this nature. In addition, there has been somewhat of a “to-do,” due to local reports of members of parliament attending the Seatrade conference.

Firstly, let me make it clear, that there was no representation from Parliament as such at the conference. However, the whole discussion does raise the following questions: What was “our” message at the 2017 cruise conference? What did we learn at the conference? And most importantly, what will be done with this information? Where does Cruise feature in our National Plan or Program?

As I look out over Great Bay harbor every day (ships or no ships), these questions inevitably pop up.

Like nearly everything else, Cruise is not an alone standing pillar, as strong as it might appear, and no single person or group “owns” this industry. There are so many topics that relate directly or indirectly to the cruise industry and that is why the positioning of Cruise on our national agenda is paramount for the simultaneous discussions on the environment, the infrastructure, energy, waste, health, crime, etc.

To give a glaring example; the perils local cyclists face on the St. Maarten roads, now also daunt our (cruise) visitors, who wish to make use of alternative means to tour the island. A new niche, I am sure, but this must be stimulated. I hold my heart every day as I see cyclists, especially those unfamiliar with our roads and traffic, trying to maneuver their way around.

Bottom line: the cruise sector needs a wholesome approach to be effective, separate from the question of how far we can expand the cruise sector due to capacity limits in the complementing fields mentioned above, as well as the fact that several of these fields also offer some potential for growth, such as in the energy and health areas.