Belize Attends FCCA Cruise Conference in St. Kitts
Monday, October 10, 2005

Belize had a well defined presence at the annual Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Conference in St. Kitts held last week , September 27th - 30th, as the Belize Tourism Board, in partnership with a delegation encompassing numerous private sector representatives, had the opportunity to represent Belize.

The conference provided an avenue for cruise industry partners to come together and exchange information and ideas in the interactive workshops. These roundtable sessions remained interactive allowing for the opportunity to meet with cruise executives and other delegates with similar interests. The conference highlighted topics in the area of Marketing, Shore Excursion/Operations, and Purchasing. Some of the topics discussed included Development of Cruise Lines` Tour Programs/Behind the Scenes, Natural Disaster Preparedness, Tour Safety and Converting Cruisers to Land-Based Vacationers.

"The cruise sector continues to play an integral part of the tourism industry," comments Director of Tourism Tracy Panton. "It represents approximately 20% of total tourism expenditure and as a result has seen increased investments by both local and international stakeholders," Panton went on to say.

At this year`s FCCA conference, BTB representatives participated as delegates and met with cruise executives from Norwegian Cruise Lines, Carnival Cruise Lines, and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines to discuss issues such as itinerary planning and areas for co-operation and improvement in Belize. These discussions have been on-going and serve as a follow up with the cruise lines after their visit to Belize in August. Also discussed was the cruise lines` support towards supplying the destination with feedback they receive from the cruise passengers on their visit to Belize. Such information is expected to provide useful insight to assist both private and public sectors to better serve the needs of the cruise sector.

The week`s activities included a panel discussion entitled "Converting Cruisers to Land-Based Vacationers," where BTB`s representative, Mr. Lloyd Enriquez, delivered a presentation on the recently launched Freestay Cruise Conversion Program in Belize. The presentation proved effective as many of those who attended the panel discussion raised interest on the subject. For Belize the cruise conversion program is expected to attract these day passengers and entice them to return as overnight visitors. The economic potential of such a program is very encouraging. In 2004 Belize welcomed 851,436 cruise passengers.

Theodore Koumelis - Monday, October 10, 2005