Port St. Maarten Set to break Best Passenger Destination Experience Ever

797
L to R: Regina Labega, Chief of Staff in the Cabinet of the Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT); Alexander Gumbs, Business Development & Marketing Manager Port St. Maarten; May-Ling Chun, Director of the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau; Minister of TEATT Stuart Johnson; and Michele Paige, President of the FCCA. 

 

PORT ST. MAARTEN – Port St. Maarten representatives and Minister of Tourism Stuart Johnson who attended the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Platinum Associate Membership Advisory Council Cruise Summit (PAMAC), were informed that Sint Maarten is on track to break its own record in cruise passenger destination experience.

Industry partners during the PAMAC Cruise Summit meetings shared information that cruise passenger experiences while on the island are set to break the record score of 9.1.

“Cruise passengers are extremely happy with the product and experience along with the warmth of the people of St. Maarten, however, there are still some concerns with the number of things to do on the island.

“One area of concern are the beauty cream sales vendors on Front Street.  The aggressive sales tactics was brought forward by a cruise executive.  This needs to be addressed with stakeholders in order to assure that our cruise passengers have a friendly courteous welcome experience from retailers.  This will be closely monitored.

“We will be exploring ways and means to have onboard cruise directors promote the island and encourage passengers to disembark,” Port St. Maarten Management said on Sunday.

Port St. Maarten along with the Minister of Tourism Stuart Johnson plan to have follow-up discussions to further enhance and push the retail product experience in both Dutch and French St. Maarten/St. Martin.

“As a destination, we must share the great things to do while on the island, and about the shopping experience on all social media platforms while we strategically tap into the well-known print and broadcast media channels,” Minister Johnson pointed out.

The destination may be number one from an experience standpoint, but additional excursions and entertainment is needed in order to keep passengers on the island longer than four hours which is currently the average amount of time that they spend. Spending only four hours would translate in a drop in passenger spending as well as the satisfaction rate within Philipsburg, the duty-free shopping capital of the Caribbean.

The aforementioned would require offering more experiences, which should lead to the return score increasing that is currently below six.

The PAMAC Summit took place from January 19-26 onboard MSC Seaside and took cruise executives and industry partners and others to a number of Caribbean islands – Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, The Bahamas and St. Maarten.  On January 23, a delegation from FCCA PAMAC visited the destination and one of the first FCCA Platinum Members, Sir Bobby Velasquez, sponsored a tour for his fellow Platinum colleagues with an unforgettable day onboard one of the company’s vessels La Nina.

The PAMAC Cruise Summit, allowed Port St. Maarten representatives and Minister Johnson to provide an update about the destination with respect to the current state of the recovery of the tourism industry, new businesses, hotel infrastructure, and public sector developments and improvements.

During the sponsored coastal water-tour for cruise executives by Sir Bobby Velasquez, the industry partners were full of praise for the island in connection with its recovery.

At the same time, a pod of dolphins was in close proximity of the tour boat which was another highlight and experience for the PAMAC Cruise Summit guests.

Minister Stuart Johnson stated he learnt a lot from the Cruise Summit after speaking with a cross section of cruise executives and encourages tour operators as well as retailers to invest in improving through Research & Development (R&D) that would allow them to further improve the destination’s competitive edge.

After bestowing Port St. Maarten with the PAMAC award at the summit, President of the FCCA Michele Paige, stated that this served “…as another sign of the entire destination’s proactive efforts to continue their cruise tourism success.”

“We are well aware that all eyes are on us and as a destination we must band together and push towards making St. Maarten/St. Martin better than ever offering unique and memorable experiences

“I will continue to forge and strengthen our relationships with cruise line executives to ensure that more jobs and business opportunities are created for our people,” Minister of Tourism Stuart Johnson concluded.

More than 250 attendees, including FCCA Platinum Members-key cruise tourism stakeholders-and over 20 high-ranking executives from the FCCA’s 19 Member Lines, attended the FCCA PAMAC Cruise Summit.

The PAMAC Cruise Summit featured a series of meetings, workshops and networking events connecting with senior cruise industry leaders to discuss industry trends and standards and develop relationships and mutual benefits for the cruise lines and members’ companies and destinations.

The PAMAC event is one of many that the FCCA coordinates for its Platinum Members and Member Lines to stay at the forefront of information about both the industry and destinations while finding ways to maximize the benefits for all.