(Photo Credit: BVI Government FB Page) Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), Michele Paige
All of the visiting cruise executives have praised the recovery work that has been done to put the Territory’s tourism product back in gear, following the devastation caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. However, it was noted that the Territory is still not where it could be, and that the guest experience would be a lot better if more of the Territory’s culture and heritage are infused in the various offerings.
The delegation that included representatives from cruise companies such as Norwegian, Disney, Royal Caribbean and Carnival, sat in the company of Premier Hon. Andrew Fahie and President of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), Michele Paige, to discuss with local stakeholders at a town hall meeting that was held at the Eileen Parsons Auditorium.
It was a lively exchange of information with persons in the tour/taxi industry, as well as merchants seeking clarity on the current state and future projections for the industry.
The most pressing feedback about the industry was delivered by the FCCA President, as she noted that the cruise passengers could be spending more in the Territory. In fact, Paige used statistics to make that point.
She noted, “In 2012 passengers spent $66.50, in 2015 $69.43, in 2018 $78.11 a day, which is good, but when you consider a destination like St. Thomas…the cruise passengers spend almost $200.”
Paige noted that with a strategic approach, the Territory can make more from cruise calls, and even convert the day-trippers to overnight guests.
In hinting at how this can be done, the FCCA President said, “An average ship calling once produces $600,000 in revenue to the British Virgin Islands…Even though the ship is in port for eight hours, the passengers are only spending eight hours off the ship – how can you showcase to them all the wonderful things that they can do when they are off the ship? Showcasing to them not only everything that they can do in those eight hours, but they couldn’t do and want to come back. They can come back and stay for long periods in the hotels.”
She noted that the likelihood of cruise passengers returning for vacation in the Territory is very high.
“Cruise passengers are looking at where they’re going to go on their next vacation while they’re on vacation. You need to put in their head that there is no better place than the British Virgin Islands,” she further suggested.
Meanwhile, Paige noted that the BVI has been doing well with the guest experience.
“The good news is that on an average ship, 97 percent of those passengers went ashore. That’s really good because there are some destinations where it’s a lot lower than that. That means that only 3% of the people chose to stay on the ship,” the FCCA President pointed out.
Almost all of the cruise executives asked the stakeholders to include more culture and heritage in their offerings.
According to Paige – sharing more of the BVI story would make the guest experience even better.
“What’s important is that you tell your story. No matter what it is that you have to sell. What it is the attractions. Whether it’s the history, the culture – you need to impart to every single person that you meet why they came here. What’s special about the British Virgin Islands, about the people, about the customs. Even if they are buying something that you made,” she noted.
Similar to other industry speakers, the FCCA President also lauded the recovery work that was done to get the Territory’s tourism product back on track following the 2017 disasters. However, she noted that more can still be done.
“You’ve done a phenomenal job at having a much better product than you have had after the hurricane, but you have all of the ability to be a world class destination, not just in the Caribbean. I am talking about in the world. A world class destination, a demand destination; that people say that this is something that I have to go to. Why – because you are special and what you have to offer is something special; and the only way that we are going to get there is by having everybody working together to showcase what sets you apart.”
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Open You EyesYea, why don't you spend some more money building a fake BVI town for the cruise ship people to go to! OR why not actually visit a local restaurant or store!? I think we might have all gone mad. The BVI is actually a pretty cool place, so why don't we just show it to people and not make up all this fake store stuff selling t-shirts from china?
Thoughful SailorWell, I was one of those who stayed, after Irma, and I can remember how proud I was at the progress made in those first few months, when everyone worked together. But, I just got back from a week in San Juan, and it almost broke my heart to see how far by us they have now moved. And, it's not as if they don't have their own financial and political problems, as well we know. Somehow, we seem to have slowed down and fallen apart. We should all look in the mirror to find the solution to our many problems.
LadyshipI have vacationed in the BVI for almost 40 years. I love it there. I fly down, rent a boat, sometimes with friends, and sail the waters that the great navigators sailed, I drop anchor at islands that Columbus and Robert Louis Stevenson visited. To me, that history, the clean water, the lovely wind, the very friendly and helpful people as well as the freed I feel there is what takes me back time after time. It feels safe there, I never worry about being robbed or assaulted. It is pure Paradise to me
You have wonderful restaurants, the health services are better than home and I have made friends for life. We occasionally talk about going other places but...BVI always wins out.