PHILIPSBURG:--- Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation & Telecommunication, the honorable Arthur Lambriex, returned from a successful five-day conference during which he received valuable feedback from international industry partners regarding further development of St. Maarten's tourism product.
Minister Lambriex led a delegation from St. Maarten to attend the 2023 Florida Caribbean Cruise Association FCCA PAMAC Cruise Virgin Voyages Experience, January 25-29. The goal of the FCCA conference is to help industry partners around the globe understand the Cruise Tourism business, learn about challenges and opportunities in the industry and find ways to grow their tourism business further.
During the five-day event, Minister Lambriex held essential discussions with key cruise and airline industry partners to further his goal of improving tourism in St. Maarten. "My delegation and I held a crucial meeting with the Puerto Rico Tourism Authority regarding jointly working with major airlines to reintroduce daily flights between St. Maarten and Puerto Rico, which I believe will benefit St. Maarten and the region when it comes to creating more options for airlifts from the US mainland to our shores," said Minister Lambriex. He said both destinations are "very excited" to get connectivity back between our two countries. The Minister said a joint approach would be an easier way to bring this to possible airlines that can provide such airlift.
Minister Lambriex also attended an introduction and team-building session with the FCCA team, their strategic partners, and tourism industry counterparts from neighboring Caribbean islands such as Jamaica, Curacao, Martinique, St Kitts & Nevis, and Aruba. As Minister of
"This was an important forum in which St. Maarten's stance, ideas, and concerns were well received and understood. We agreed that collectively we would work to increase cruise calls to our Port and have ships staying longer in Port, with extra emphasis on our off-season months to have some continuity throughout the year," explained Minister Lambert.
The Minister also met with Virgin Atlantic Voyages to discuss bringing the Virgin brand to St. Maarten. Another important highlight of Minister Lambriex's trip was a meeting with Royal Caribbean, Carnival Group of Companies, and Disney, during which they discussed future business developments for our island. Port St. Maarten will issue a press release within the coming days with more details of the meeting.
According to Minister Lambriex, one critical feedback from the Cruise Companies was challenges experienced concerning fuel consumption and conversion power. He said, "This led to discussions about shoreside plug-in possibilities, which would allow fuel savings. It would be a greener day in Port, making it even more attractive."
The Minister said Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) had been a path many lines are considering as a cleaner alternative. In this regard, St. Maarten can possibly find ways to invest in a refueling station for LNG and have the LNG system tied into the local grid. This approach could produce sufficient alternative power to allow ship plug-ins at more competitive market rates. In return, any additional energy produced could reduce the usage of current generators at NV GEBE that consume a lot of fuel at a not-so-competitive rate."
Minister Lambriex considered his trip an overall success and said the visits to Key West and Bimini highlighted many ideas and provided vital information, which will be helpful to St. Maarten as we improve our tourism product. "This is not just helpful for cruise tourism but also facilities and diversification of possible future stores, attractions, and services," said Minister Lambriex.
He said he looks forward to a follow-up zoom meeting with Royal Caribbean Cruise line concerning New Market Place in Philipsburg and continuing discussions on the proposed Water Park and Boutique Hotel, which are near final decisions. The Minister said he intends to see these projects through to fruition, as they are all great initiatives for all parties involved.
PAMAC is the Platinum Associate Membership Advisory Council of the FCCA. The organization routinely hosts hundreds of representatives of FCCA's exclusive membership program and other stakeholders in the cruise and tourism industry to brainstorm on improvements and innovations in the industry.
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