This gathering of industry participants, slated for September 30 to October 4 at Cartagena de Indias Convention Center, 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," said Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty, a board member of both the Virgin Islands Port Authority (VIPA) and The West Indian Company Limited (WICO), in a written release.
The Ports of the Virgin Islands team, which comprises VIPA, WICO, and the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, will be jointly led by VIPA Chairman Robert O'Connor Jr. and Executive Director Carlton Dowe; WICO's CEO Joseph Boshulte and Vice Chairman Rossevelt David; and 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 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 offer 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," said Robert O'Connor, chairman of VIPA, in a written release. "We are doing some very good things and now is the time for us to get aggressive and let others know."