The Minister for Tourism, Hon. Josephine Connolly led a five-member delegation from the Ministry of Tourism and Turks and Caicos Tourist Board at the 27th Annual FCCA Cruise Conference held October 18th to 22nd, Panama City, Panama. The team comprised of Mrs. Cherylann Jones, Permanent Secretary; Mr. Brian Been, Tourism Risk Manager and Chair of Cruise Steering Committee; Mr. John Hilton, member of the Board of the Directors of the Tourist Board along with Mrs. Candesha Mills, Product Development Officer.
The FCCA, the Caribbean’s largest not-for-profit cruise centered Organisation, comprising 22-member cruise lines operating nearly 200 vessels in Floridian, Caribbean and Latin American waters and established in 1972; the FCCA’s is a forum for discussion on tourism development, ports, safety, security and other cruise industry issues. Building cooperation with partner destinations and developing productive bilateral partnerships with every sector.
The FCCA conference is designed to foster a better understanding of the inner workings of the cruise industry and help attendees improve their cruise tourism business. It was the first time a Minister of Tourism from the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) attended.
The delegation participated in a number of workshop sessions, the Minister’s Forum and one on one meetings. The team was able to meet with various industry representatives including Mr. Arnold Donald of Carnival Cruise Lines, Mr. Russell Benford of the Royal Caribbean Group, Mr. Albino Supino Di Lorenzo, Vice President of cruise operations for MSC Cruises; and Ms. Kristel Kouly, Manager, Destination Experiences Silversea Expeditions to name a few. Focus was placed on Training, Marketing and Product development with emphasis on itinerary planning, hence dialogue with Ms. Crystal Morgan of Princess Cruises and Ms. Erika Tache, Director of Product Development at Carnival Cruise Lines.
Hon. Connolly noted her extreme pleasure in participating in this her first FCCA conference. Event organizers were pleased with the high-level representation from the TCI, especially given the COVID 19 environment; which resulted in the cancellation of the annual trade show component.
Minister Connolly noted that; “This conference happened at a most opportune time, as TCI gets ready to restart cruise tourism. The discussions and presentations will certainly add to our re-start agenda as we begin meeting with service providers and even finalizing a planned schedule of training activities for those in the industry. As we strengthen our product positioning, there will be an increased demand for authentic experiences. This was highlighted and our National Strategies have always addressed experiential tourism. Commitment was given for partnership especially in regards to training opportunities. It was a worthwhile exchange of best-case scenarios for industry success”.
The TCI is committed to developing product Grand Turk and ensuring that service providers benefit from opportunities available through Invest TCI and other areas. The Ministry of Health is a key partner as it begins to ready the industry with clarity on protocols to ensure the same high level of safety standards as we re-open.