Partnership to help destinations find their voice

A new regional partnership is aiming to enhance the potential of cruising in the Caribbean
Partnership to help destinations find their voice
Authorities from across the region are committing to the community Caribbean Village facilities

By Sean Dudley |

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2017 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

On a global level, the appeal of cruise tourism is significant. It’s a sector that continues to be one of the leisure travel categories with the greatest potential for expansion worldwide. In a local context, cruise tourism is also an essential catalyst for regional development and an engine for economic growth.

That said, the sector is characterised by robust competition among destinations and among cruising regions. Historically, destinations have often viewed their neighbours as competitors rather than thinking of them as partners.

However, on a regional level, the cruise tourism product must be seen as a composite one, with each of the elements supplied by individual tourism entities, across multiple destinations, on a particular itinerary and within a geographical region.

Given the structure of itineraries, destinations must recognise that they are interdependent and that working together will serve to advance their individual positions within the marketplace.

Regional partnerships and alliances are not a new phenomenon, but have become powerful tools for expanding networks, gaining access to new markets, establishing industry linkages and reducing costs.

Furthermore, these partnerships build and strengthen relationships between industry stakeholders thanks to the exchange and sharing of information and best practices. Successful alliances can lead to the implementation of innovative initiatives to drive product upgrades, diversify a region’s product mix and create a platform for sustainability. At a macro level, a collective marketing approach has the potential to enhance the overall appeal of the region as a destination.

Even as regional partnerships become more and more commonplace within the cruise tourism landscape, the cruise industry itself is establishing deeper partnership structures to represent its interests. The industry seeks to extend these structures across the globe, and destinations must be aware of this.

In the global business of cruising, cruise lines supply the hardware and destinations supply the indispensable shoreside experience and port infrastructure. Together they essentially supply ‘the dream’. Both parties make significant financial investments in support of the business, and both parties have stakeholders to whom they are accountable. Moreover, both parties have identified a business case for their continued pursuit of the maximum benefits to be derived from the sector. Thus, the establishment or continuation of relationships built on the foundation of mutual respect and dialogue is paramount.

Given the factors that dictate the industry, destinations are recognising that they must play a more proactive role in the cruise process, especially in terms of their ongoing development and joint marketing efforts.

This call to action is being answered by initiatives such as the Caribbean Village. This regional partnership seeks to position the Caribbean in targeted world markets and increase the collaboration between Caribbean destinations not only to improve their marketing thrust, but also to enhance the cruise guest and cruise line experience. These destinations, like those in other global cruising regions, understand that they must help chart their own destiny. But the question remains – are destinations now being called to do so with one voice?

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