South Padre Island, Texas, Aims to Become Caribbean Cruise Destination

Photo by South Padre Island Economic Development Corp.

A new destination in Texas is aiming to position itself as a Caribbean cruise port of call.

The South Padre Island, Texas, City Council has approved a proposal by SPI Cruise Group — a partnership of cruise port design, maritime operations and marketing professionals — to create a plan to develop the destination into an attractive port of call on western Caribbean cruise itineraries.

With increasing emphasis on tourism sustainability and concerns of over-tourism in some eastern and southern Caribbean ports of call, cruise lines are seeking alternative destinations with existing tourism infrastructure to add to their cruise itineraries, South Padre Island officials said. With the rising popularity of western Caribbean cruises from the Port of Galveston, Texas, South Padre Island can provide a fresh new port with attractive shore excursion opportunities.

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"South Padre Island has been a hidden U.S. jewel for many years," said Mayor Dennis Stahl in a written statement. "We are looking forward to sharing our unique ecotourism sites, like Sea Turtle Inc., a renowned sea turtle rescue center, and the Birding and Nature Center, a world-class birdwatching destination, in addition to our pristine beaches and adventure activities."

SPI Cruise Group is composed of four companies in the port development, cruise and maritime industries:

MarketScope Global brings more than 30 years of combined cruise industry experience to bear on understanding the market forces at work in the cruise sector. Project manager Jay Lewis created the cruise industry’s first scannable “comment card” system and its first automated brochure-ordering system. He has served as adjunct professor of marketing at the University of Miami and as a lecturer at Oxford and Cambridge for the Seatrade Academy.

IDEA is an international design and planning firm that conceives conceptual designs and then facilitates production of branded destinations for the cruise, hospitality, entertainment and tourism industries. IDEA currently is working on the design of Port Grand Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island and has completed port-design projects for Falmouth, Jamaica; Harvest Caye, Belize; and Icy Strait Point, Alaska; among others.

Cruise and Port Advisors, led by cruise industry veteran Roger Blum, helps clients in multiple industries tailor their products and services to meet the needs of today’s cruise industry. Clients include destinations, port authorities, shore excursion operators, medical facilities, manning agents and onboard revenue partners. Blum's long-standing close relationships with top cruise executives create marketing opportunities for his clients. One destination client increased its cruise business by over 1,000 percent in just a few years.

NewmanPR has been providing clients in the leisure travel, maritime and cruise industries creative, customized and cost-effective marketing communications services for more than 70 years. Clients include the Florida Keys tourism council, Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line and port-development projects Icy Strait Point, Alaska, and Banana Coast, Honduras.

The initial stage of the project is expected to take four months to complete, and includes an aggressive marketing and communications plan to raise awareness of South Padre Island’s potential among cruise industry executives.


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