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Tobago forum to air southern Caribbean opportunities, challenges

Oswin Browne
Scarborough, Tobago's capital and main city
Senior executives from mainly European cruise lines, government officials and destination, infrastructure and tour operator experts are set to gather in Tobago to discuss development, opportunities and challenges in the southern Caribbean.

Port and terminal infrastructure, shore excursions, guides and destination development, connectivity/airlift, itineraries and marketing will be among the topics addressed at the Seatrade Caribbean Cruise Forum, May 13-14, at the Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort.

Hosted by the Division of Tourism and Transportation, Tobago House of Assembly, the forum is intended to 'increase collaboration and communication with cruise line partners' and to 'lift our profile and increase visibility and awareness as a destination,' according to Henry Yaniz, Miami-based cruise consultant for Tobago.

'One destination does not an itinerary make,' he added. 'This is an opportunity for all the southern Caribbean.'

The forum is focused on the European cruise lines since 'they play a predominant role in our traffic,' Yaniz said.

The forum is organized under the leadership of Tracy Davidson-Celestine, deputy chief secretary and secretary, division of tourism and transportation, Tobago House of Assembly. It comes at a time when the island's cruise numbers are on the upswing and the possibility of dedicated cruise infrastructure is being discussed.

'I'm looking forward to seeing what they have to offer,' said Michael Pawlus, director, strategic itinerary planning and scheduling, Silversea Cruises. Silversea ships call at Scarborough but Pawlus himself has never visited Tobago and he's particularly eager to know about the plans for a cruise facility.

Among the forum's confirmed cruise line speakers are Pawlus; Chris Coates, commercial director, Cruise & Maritime Voyages; Mike Deegan, fleet director, Noble Caledonia; Claudius Docekal, director, deployment, destinations and charter sales, Azamara Club Cruises; Chris Doval, senior port operations financial analyst; Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.; Hans Hesselberg, svp hotel operations, MSC Cruises USA; James Langley, marine superintendent, Saga Cruises; and Steven Young, director of port services and government affairs, Carnival UK.

Other speakers include Orville Delano London, chief secretary, Tobago House of Assembly; Beverly-Anne Carter, director of the Centre for Language Learning, The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus; Samuel Henry, transportation coordinator; Tobago Division of Tourism and Transportation; Martin Ince, ceo, Foster & Ince Group; Scott Lagueux, partner, LandDesign; and Jan Berg-Andreassen, chief economist and cfo, Infratrans.

The two-day forum will include three conference sessions, pre-scheduled one-to-one meetings, an island tour and a welcome reception and gala dinner.