The Ports of the U.S. Virgin Islands are fielding a strong delegation to the annual Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association’s Cruise Conference and Trade Show in Cartagena, Colombia, this week. This gathering of industry participants is one of the premier industry events of the year for ports, attractions, suppliers, cruise and tourism agencies, tour operators and ship agents.
“This is an opportunity for our teams to meet with key cruise industry players, get an idea of trends and current issues, and market for new business,” stated Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty, a board member of both the Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA) and the West Indian Company Limited (WICO).
The Ports of the Virgin Islands team, which is comprised of VIPA, WICO and the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, is jointly led by VIPA Chairman Robert O’Connor Jr. and Executive Director Carlton Dowe; WICO CEO Joseph Boschulte and Vice Chairman Roosevelt David; and Commissioner Nicholson-Doty and Deputy Commissioner of Tourism Chantal Figueroa.
Meetings with cruise executives will focus on the territory’s continuing infrastructure improvement plans and updates on port enhancement projects at destination facilities. Also to be reviewed will be plans to accommodate larger class vessels at both ports on St. Thomas and a pitch to the liners on why they should increase calls to the island of St. Croix.
In addition to discussing existing tours and excursion offerings, the team will also update stakeholders on the major upgrades to the Paradise Point lookout on St. Thomas, which includes comprehensive restaurant facilities, the recent refreshing of the Oscar E.
Henry Customs House at the Ann E. Abramson Pier in Frederiksted in St. Croix, the availability of the Captain Morgan Visitor Center attraction for purchase aboard ships calling on St. Croix, and future plans for a water park on St. Croix and a theme park on St. Thomas.
More than 1,000 cruise industry partners, including about 100 cruise executives, attend the annual conference. The talks feature a number of round-table discussions led by industry experts and guest speakers who are specialists in marketing, sourcing, shore excursions and operations. It also affords destinations the opportunity for quality, one-on-one time with cruise line decision-makers.
“We are in an extremely competitive environment, and the strength of the combined USVI team at this event gives us a chance to promote our products to the widest group of people, yet coordinate our efforts in the best interest of each port and island,” stated O’Connor. “We are doing some very good things, and now is the time for us to get aggressive and let others know,” he added.
In addition to taking advantage of the various sessions, the Ports of the Virgin Islands will exhibit its particular attractiveness at the trade show.