More than 30,000 persons stepped ashore in Trinidad from 25 cruise ships between November 25, 2015 and May 4, 2016 while Tobago received more than 70,000 visitors from 60 cruise ships during the same period. In all, 100,791 persons visited TT during the recently ended cruise season.
Tourism Minister Shamfa Cudjoe says this “represents an increase of 115 percent over the cruise season of the previous year (2014 to 2015). It’s important to note that the last time TT had cruise passenger arrivals in excess of 100,000 was during the 2009 to 2010 cruise season.” Cudjoe was speaking during a stakeholder review of the 2015 to 2016 season, held at the Cruise Ship Complex, Dock Road, Port-of- Spain yesterday afternoon.
Much-needed foreign exchange was earned when these tourists visited TT. The minister said available data for 2015 to 2016 suggested that cruise passengers spent US $42.58 in Trinidad and US $74.18 in Tobago while the average crew spend was US $23.00 per person, generating an estimated US $6.7 million.“This is a today sum but there is potential to earn much more in the 2016 to 2017 season. With the current momentum, we are poised to surpass last season’s performance, which means more employment for out citizens and increased foreign exchange,” Cudjoe said.
She cited five reasons for the “significant improvement” in cruise arrivals and the attendant enhanced economic returns.
These included: Aggressive marketing campaigns targeting cruise lines; strengthened relationship with the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA); streamlining on-island resources such as shore excursions, transportation, sites and attractions; ensuring that cruise lines are comfortable with berthing and other amenities offered at the ports; and “Best of all, we are told by many cruise passengers that Trinbagonians are the friendliest and most welcoming people in the Caribbean,” Cudjoe stated.
Looking ahead to next season, the Tourism Minister shared that Caribbean Cruises will be offering several vacation packages in 2017 to 2018 and will launch a new 14-day Circle Caribbean itinerary out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida that would include stops in Trinidad.
Meanwhile, cruise passengers looking for an extended stay can benefit from a 14-day “Caribbean Connoisseur” voyage on the Pacific Princess which stops over in Tobago, among other islands.