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Caribbean Cruise Industry

Caribbean’s share of global cruise market declines steadily

Jul 12, 2011

Antigua St John's - The Caribbean’s share of the global cruise market has been declining steadily over the last several decades. That was the assessment of President of the Antigua and Barbuda Cruise Tourism Association (ABCTA) Nathan Dundas, who said as a destination, the Caribbean at one time represented over 60 percent of all cruises.

But this has changed with the growing popularity of areas such as the Mediterranean, South America - mainly Brazil, the Pacific Northwest, Australia, and Asia.

As recently as 2009, the Caribbean share of the market was 41 percent, but by the 2011-12 season, that figure will be down to 35 percent, Dundas noted. With this in mind, the cruise executive wants the region to come together to take a joint approach to the cruise industry and find ways to reverse the trend.

He said despite heavy investments in berthing and other facilities to accommodate cruise passengers, the industry remains viable for only six months each year (November to April), as most of the ships are re-deployed to some of the other popular destinations like the Mediterranean Sea from May to October.

According to Dundas, Caribbean tourism ministers have been using the framework of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation to hold regular meetings with the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association, which groups the main cruise lines operating vessels through the region.

He also wants ongoing talks between the FCCA and stakeholders in each destination to get some recommendations on the way forward for the industry. For example, Dundas noted that the largest class of vessels can only be accommodated in three Caribbean ports - Jamaica, St Maarten and St Kitts, but he is not sure that the other territories should rush to invest in the infrastructure to accommodate these vessels, as it is not certain that these vessels are the trends for the future.

“Not many ports can accommodate them, and they are not easy to fill, in a market driven by the profit motive,” Dundas noted.

He urged governments such as Antigua & Barbuda to meet with the FCCA before deciding on any further development of the St John’s Harbour.

Caribbean’s share of global cruise market declines steadily
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