Representatives from several Caribbean islands will meet in Barbados next week to discuss a proposed southern Caribbean cruise alliance.
Membership and specific objectives of the alliance are yet unclear, but officials in Martinique for the Caribbean Tourism Organization's annual meeting said they were willing to listen, especially if it resulted in new southern Caribbean itineraries. It's also unclear how far north the alliance's boundary might extend, but Carolyn James, chief executive officer of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, said she was sending her cruise manager.
“It's in the interest of tourism industry of the Caribbean,” James said. “It's always good to have dialog. You can't lose.”
Hugh Riley, secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, said the CTO has been invited to the meeting Oct. 21 and 22 and plans to send a representative.
“These are early days of the discussions,” Riley said. “The northern cruise experience is not the same as the southern cruise experience. They owe it to themselves to band together, groups with commonality, to create tourism magnets. I'm in the habit of saying, if you've seen one island, you seen one island.”
The idea was introduced in March by Barbados Acting Prime Minister Richard L. Sealy at a Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association meeting. Sealy said the idea was to bolster the southern Caribbean's market share by branding the area together with a singular marketing approach.
“No single destination is an itinerary and there is need for hardcore marketing and attractive packages for cruise lines,” he said in his speech earlier this year. He said Caribbean destinations had already started discussions with Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association about the proposed alliance.