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Caribbean destinations affirm appeal to European cruise market

Tourism Minister Lorne Theophilus led a St. Lucia delegation that met with European executives. From left, Capt. Luigi Pastena, port captain, port operations department, MSC Cruises; Catherine Cooper, chief operating officer, Cox & Co.; Minister Theophilus; Shamma Phillippe-Harris, marketing manager, special markets, St. Lucia Tourist Board; and Louis Lewis, director of tourism, St. Lucia Tourist Board (Photo: Caribbean Village)
Caribbean destinations used the forum of Seatrade Europe in September to engage with European cruise operators, talk about new infrastructure and attractions, interact with travel agents and tout the variety and appeal of their region.

'Based on the feedback we have gotten from our partners, we continue to be of great importance to the European lines,' said Julie-Anne Burrowes, business development consultant for the Caribbean Village joint marketing initiative. She added that interest from the lines in smaller and niche ports also was evident.

Fourteen destinations took part and Burrowes believes together they had an impact at the Hamburg event. The Caribbean Village hosted the welcome reception and participated in a new travel agent component. The Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board had a high profile as a finalist for the Seatrade Cruise Awards' Destination of the Year.

'As these are global awards it really underscores the high quality of the experience available in the Caribbean,' Burrowes said.

Representatives of European lines including AIDA, Costa, Saga, MSC, TUI, Thomson and others 'spent quality time in the booth, not just meeting with a destination but several destinations,' according to Burrowes. 'They said this is efficient. In two or three hours they could meet with 14 destinations.'

Among the Caribbean developments that were talked about was the British Virgin Islands' recently expanded cruise pier and the new Tortola Pier Park retail, entertainment and dining development, coming on line just now. Cruise executives also were updated on the status and recovery of Dominica following Tropical Storm Erika. The key message was that both the island's cruise ports, Roseau Cruise Ship Berth and the Woodbridge Bay Port, were unaffected, and leading attractions like Trafalgar Falls and Cabrits National Park are fully accessible.

Leading German travel trade publication FVW's Cruise Live Travel Agent Conference was held adjacent to the Caribbean Village.

'We were able to participate and make contact with that important segment. It was a great marketing and promotional opportunity for the Caribbean,' Burrowes said. 'We welcome the fact that Hamburg Messe sought to incorporate the travel agent segment within Seatrade Europe and hopefully they will continue to grow this in the future for the 2017 event.'

The Caribbean Village included Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, British Virgin Islands, Curaçao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Jamaica, Martinique, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Martin, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago.