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Mexico matters, Karl Holz keynote, economic impact study to highlight FCCA's Cozumel meet

Cozumel - 3.3m cruise passengers in 2014 (Photo: Government of Cozumel)
A Mexico focus, opening remarks by Micky Arison, a keynote address by Karl Holz, the biggest Caribbean cruise economic impact study ever done, a table tennis challenge for charity by Adam Goldstein—all are highlights of this year's Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association Conference & Trade Show. Cozumel hosts the Oct. 5-9 event.

With more than 3m passengers annually, this is the Caribbean and Mexico's busiest cruise destination by far. It should only grow as Carnival Corp. inaugurates a third Puerta Maya berth this winter.

Plus, Quintana Roo state is home to another important cruise destination, Costa Maya, soon to open a major new attraction, the Lost Mayan Kingdom water park. And it neighbors Yucatán state, where Progreso is set for a hefty increase in cruise numbers thanks to larger ships from Carnival Cruise Line.

'Very strong' is how FCCA president Michele Paige described the relationship between the cruise industry and Mexico. She credits President Enrique Peña Nieto, whose administration has involved not only tourism officials but also security, immigration and transportation departments in regular communications with the cruise industry. Also, for a long time, the FCCA has had 'great relationships with the various states.'

The Cozumel event will draw a large Mexican delegation led by Quintana Roo Gov. Roberto Borge Angulo. Officials from all the country's many cruise ports are expected.

Findings of the FCCA's latest economic impact study, conducted by Business Research & Economic Advisors, will be presented. Some 33 destinations—the biggest number ever—are participating in this tally of passenger and crew spending and how visitors rate services. The last such study was released in 2012.

'Happy passengers spend money,' Paige said.

FCCA chairman/Carnival Corp. & plc chairman Micky Arison will give welcome remarks at the Oct. 6 conference opening session, while Disney Cruise Line president Karl Holz is to deliver the keynote address.

A presidents/ceo round table will include Arison, Holz, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s Adam Goldstein, Norwegian Cruise Line's Andy Stuart and MSC Cruises USA's Rick Sasso. Christine Duffy will make her first appearance at the FCCA annual event as Carnival president.

FCCA svp Adam Ceserano forecasts a 'phenomenal turnout' for the trade show, the setting for the Oct. 7 'Night Extravaganza' featuring Goldstein's table tennis challenge. A new regional purchasing initiative is to be unveiled in a working meeting, Ceserano said, and, as always, FCCA Platinum members will have their own exclusive events, including a cocktail reception, lunch and tours with cruise executives.

Robert Shamosh Charabati, vp marketing and sales for Costa Maya, sees the conference as a 'great opportunity for everyone to experience in a close and personal way some of the top cruise destinations in the Caribbean, visit the new upcoming attractions and understand the evolution that is taking place.'

Post-conference Costa Maya will whisk cruise executives on quick familiarization trips to see its latest developments. Opening in December, the water park will be spectacular, predicts Terry Thornton, svp itinerary planning for Carnival. 'This is more than an attraction,' he added. 'It will help Costa Maya attract more business. It's sold as a shore excursion so cruise lines will benefit.'

The FCCA held its last annual meeting in Cozumel in 2007. The year before, the destination handled 2m cruisers. One year after hosting the event, Cozumel chalked up a 21% increase, with 2.45m passengers from FCCA member lines alone. The growth continued and last year reached a peak 3.3m cruise arrivals.

FCCA information/registration is here.