CRUISE TOURISM OFFICIALS ATTEND FCCA CRUISE CONFERENCE & TRADE SHOWFriday 5th October 2012
Photo Caption from left to right: Colin James CEO Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Niekesha Lake Antigua Pier Group, Terrikia Benjamin FCCA Essay Contest Winner AGHS, Cynthia Simon Tourism Education Officer Ministry of Education, Eloise Francis Marketing and Events Manager National Parks Authority, Charmaine Spencer Marketing Manager Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Conrad Pole General Manager Antigua Pier Group, Valerie Harris Pole Deputy Chairperson Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority
Antigua and Barbuda is currently attending the 19th annual Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Conference & Trade Show being held in Curacao from October 1-5 2012.
The destination has put forward a strong delegation at this year's event as tourism industry officials and local tour providers conducted successful one-on-one meetings with Cruise Executives of the various cruise lines and attended enlightening and informative workshops geared at improving the destination's cruise industry.
The delegation included Mr. Conrad Pole, General Manager of Antigua Pier Group, Mr. Colin James, CEO of Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA), Mr. Nathan Dundas, President of Antigua and Barbuda Cruise Tourism Association, Mr. Sylvester Brown, Chairman of St. John's Development Corporation, and Ms. Eloise Francis, Marketing & Events Manager of National Parks Authority.
The destination's participation was also supported by the private sector and included local tour operators from Tropical Adventures, Wadadli Cats, Stingray City, Antigua Nature Tours and Antigua Rain Forest Canopy Tours. These local operators made special efforts to expand their business with the cruise lines and assure them of all of the safe and exciting activities the destination has to offer. The ability to offer a wide array of activities and tours to our cruise passengers will ensure that our destination's appeal continues to remain high.
The Antigua and Barbuda tourism executives had productive meetings with most of the major cruise executives including Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) Executive Mr. Frederico Gonsales, Director of Government Relations for Latin America & the Caribbean. Mr. Gonsales reaffirmed RCCL's commitment to working with the twin-island state and confirmed the return of the "Jewel of the Seas" cruise ship for summer 2013. This ship will produce a total of 26 calls to Antigua which will significantly improve business for local stakeholders during the off-season.
The RCCL officials commended the destination for taking the recent decision to move forward with the initiative to improve the facilities at the cruise terminal, and expressed an interest in exploring opportunities for collaboration on this project. RCCL, which brings the largest share of cruise calls to the destination, also noted that recent customer satisfaction scores had shown a steady improvement in the country's grade as rated by passengers for guest appeal and visitor satisfaction. Antigua and Barbuda has been steadily increasing in these two areas over the past few years and has been scoring above the regional average. At the end of the recent cruise season, Antigua and Barbuda had an overall guest satisfaction score of 8.5 points out of a maximum of 10 points, up from 7.8 points in 2008.
Customer satisfaction scores are a key component that cruise lines take into consideration when compiling a cruise itinerary. The ability to maintain and improve the visitor experience will therefore ultimately help to secure additional cruise calls in the future.
In addition to the successful executive meetings, the destination also took centre stage at the Opening Ceremony when Miss Terrikia Benjamin, a student of the Antigua Girls High School, was presented as the regional Senior Division winner for her winning FCCA Essay on the topic, "What are the Memories You Would Like a Cruise Passenger to Walk Away With After Visiting Your Destination?” This FCCA essay competition was coordinated with local schools by Ms Cynthia Simon the Tourism Education Officer in the Ministry of Tourism who chaperoned Ms Benjamin on her prize trip to Curacao.
Miss Benjamin received a monetary prize as well as a cheque for USD$ 3,000 which was awarded to her school. This gift from the FCCA was accepted by CEO of the ABTA Colin James.
The country's participation at the annual FCCA Cruise Conference and Trade Show was a productive one and demonstrated the partnership of all cruise tourism stakeholders on island which is critical for the growth and development of the country's cruise industry.
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