Martinique Pursues Initiatives To Extend Surging Cruise Arrivals
PHOTO: Martinique is enhancing cruise visitor facilities and attractions in historic Fort de France. (Photo by Brian Major)
Martinique tourism officials are pushing to extend the overseas French territory’s explosive cruise ship arrivals growth of recent years. The Martinique Tourism Authority (MTA) is projecting 326,388 cruise passenger arrivals for the 2015-2016 season, a 31 percent increase over the 2014-2015 season.
The increasing visits closely follow the Martinique government’s collaboration with cruise line operators through the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), according to Martinique officials. The island’s government tourism officials have also implemented initiatives to enhance infrastructure and services targeted to cruise ship tourists.
In late May, the MTA hosted a delegation of FCCA officials. “This visit continues our commitment to work closely with our cruise industry partners to always find new ways to improve our cruise travel product,” said Muriel Wiltord, director Americas for the Martinique Promotion Bureau.
To that end, Martinique has launched several programs to upgrade cruise passenger services, amenities and attractions. These include a renovation of the main cruise ship terminal in Martinique’s historic capital city of Fort de France.
“The December 2015 completion of the Pointe Simon cruise terminal and other capital improvements designed to further beautify the downtown Fort-de-France area and ease congestion along the waterfront will raise the bar on our cruise travel product,” said Wiltord.
New facilities around the cruise port will include a 94-room hotel and new retail shops, Wiltord said. The new elements will enhance visitor experience “for those staying in port just a few hours, as well as those taking advantage of pre- and post-cruise extended stay options in Fort-de-France,” she added.
While Martinique remains one of the Caribbean’s lesser-visited regional cruise destinations, ranking 25th among the 28 tracked by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) in 2014, it is easily the fastest-growing.
Martinique’s surging 2015 cruise arrivals are part of a five-year run during which the territory has experienced a 631 percent cruise passenger increase. Last year’s 177,786 cruise ship visitors represent a 71 percent increase over 2013.
“Martinique has improved its relationship with the cruise industry by opening up communication and being receptive to input from the FCCA,” said Leon Sutcliff, commercial director and head of the stopovers program for Carnival Cruise Lines. “Martinique is making strides to improve the guest experience by listening and acting on advice from the industry."
FCCA officials are currently, “compiling research toward producing a new study on cruise passenger behavior and spending in Martinique,” according to association officials. Preliminary findings of the study show cruise tourists in Martinique spend $70 per person, per port call.
“While the cruising industry in the Caribbean is facing increasing competition, Martinique is registering the fastest and most important increase in the world as a cruise destination,” said Michele Paige, FCCA’s president.
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