Destinations should begin to strategically plan for their long term value rather than short term gain or political election cycles.
Over the past 15 years we have learned the Cruise Industry in the Caribbean from the inside out with design and branding destination engagements for Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney and Norwegian Cruise Lines. We have worked in over 30 island destinations with numerous Port Authorities and seen the world from the "guests perspective" and what we see is a "Virgin landscape for future growth".
We have experienced an unbelievable growth in an industry which has unlimited potential. Over 500,000 passengers per day any day are cruising in the Caribbean. With new luxury ships and exceptional on board delivery the opportunities for new players, new investors and new destinations is at an all time high. Limited by older ports filled to capacity in tired destinations the door is open now to rediscover the Caribbean with new destinations.
Guests today are looking beyond traditional travel and want to tailor their valuable vacation time to their own needs not those of the "group". As we learned in the theme park industry two decades ago, "guests no longer want to ride in the boat they want to drive the boat". Although guests cannot aspire to drive a mega ship they can drive the selection of destinations and tours they want to experience. I am always amused when I hear a cruise line executive say "we determine where the ships go" and guest follow. Actually today's informed guests choose where they want to go and select ships and itineraries they want to experience. With Richard Branson's entry into this lucrative market you will see a new breed of guests who drive the industry where they want it to go. Ships which select new innovative destinations offering unlimited tours and attractions developed for guest satisfaction not yield will win the day. Hang on, Sir Richard can change the Chess Board and lead the future of cruise tourism in new exciting directions. It is time for new destinations to step up and plan for the future when guests arrive at your destination and demand that the landside experience match the level of service and amenities that the ships are delivering. We are embarking on 5 new port projects with destinations poised to offer a new more engaging destinations waiting to be discovered. It truly is a New Virgin World!
Norwegian Cruise Line and Disney Cruise Line signed long-term agreements with the British Virgin Islands that guarantee a total of at least 425,000 passengers a year starting in mid-2015—a deal Premier Orlando Smith said paves the way for BVI to be among the leading players of the cruise industry.
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