“Tourism Opportunities Await Us.” - 2 nov 2008

“Tourism Opportunities Await Us.”

Last week saw Trinidad and Tobago hosting the 15th annual Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Conference and Trade Show at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad Hotel and Convention Centre.  The conference attracted over 800 delegates. 
FCCA is a trade association composed of 11 Member Lines: Carnival Cruise Lines, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruise Line, Cunard Line, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises (USA) Inc., Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Royal Caribbean International.  Member Lines operate more than 100 vessels in Florida, Caribbean and Mexican waters.  This was definitely a major event in terms of promoting tourism.
From what I observed, the conference went quite well – kudos to the teams in the Ministry of Tourism, the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), the Tourism Development Company (TDC) and the Trinidad and Tobago Incoming Tour Operators Association (TTITOA).  Successfully hosting an event of this stature is very encouraging as we prepare for the 2 much bigger events in 2009 – the Summit of the Americas and the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.  Events that will together, firmly place Trinidad on the world map when it comes to hosting high profile conventions.
Aside from positioning Trinidad as a convention centre, the FCCA meeting served as an amazing opportunity to showcase what both Trinidad and Tobago have to offer cruise visitors.  Terry Dale, the CEO of Cruise Lines International Association, Inc (CLIA) explained that –
  • The industry has been seeing consistent growth over the past 17 years.  Even the events of September 11th and the dot com bust did not phase American demand for cruises.
  • In 2007, Americans did US$ 38 billion worth of cruise trips.
  • Cruising is estimated to contribute to the Caribbean region about US$ 1.8 billion in direct spending, or US $94 million per destination.
  • When a 2500 passenger ship makes a single port of call visit, that’s worth about US$ 318 000 in passenger and crew onshore spending.  
With big numbers like these, it is easy to see how the Tourism industry falls under the Vision 2020 pillar on enabling competitive business.  It is such a key industry as we continue our efforts to diversify away from energy.
Considering the role that our young people will play in the future development of the sector, it was good to note that out of the 15 countries competing in the FCCA Foundation Children’s Essay Contest 2008, Trinidad and Tobago copped first place and second place respectively in the junior and senior divisions.  Placing first in the junior division (ages 12 and under) was Joel Jones of Presentation College (Chaguanas) who won in a field of 26 essays.  Taruna Seebaransingh of St. Joseph Convent (St. Joseph) placed second in the senior division (ages 13-16), in a field of 21 submissions. 
Primary and secondary school students from FCCA-partner destinations were invited to participate in this contest.  Students were asked to write a 300 to 500-word essay on the topic, “What steps can we take as a cruise destination to make cruise passengers feel more welcome while in port?”.  Winners received cash scholarships, and their schools are to receive a monetary award.
We had the pleasure of hearing Joel Jones read his winning essay.  This articulate and confident young man won over the international audience.  Joel Jones is someone we expect to hear more about in the future!
In terms of the beautiful sites and attractions awaiting our future cruise visitors, I got an email a couple weeks back from Jeremy Joseph and Candace Ali at Neal & Massy about the restoration of the Lumber Lane Nature Trail in Chaguaramas.
Candace explained that Marketing & Distribution (a division of Neal & Massy) has partnered with the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA) to help promote health, wellness and an appreciation of the natural environment.  Attributes of their Nature Valley brand.  At the time of writing, the partnership was to be officially launched with the ‘Nature Valley Save the Trail’ promotion on November 1st, with activities that included hiking to Edith Falls, hiking on the Huggins Nature Trail and for the really fit – a test of endurance on the Fitness Trail.  Kudos to the teams at Marketing & Distribution and the CDA. Federal Tax Singapore
There are so many positive projects happening around us as we move towards Vision 2020. 
Final note - congrats to my friend Kierron Yip Ngow and his wife on the birth of their baby-girl – Kaitlin!!

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