Port St. Maarten Group (PSG) management said on Wednesday that destination St. Maarten according to its forecast and cruise line itineraries for the period November 2022 to April 2023, will see approximately one million cruise passengers visit and explore the ‘Friendly Island ’making memorable experiences.
Acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation & Telecommunication (TEATT), the honorable Omar Ottley said: “It gives me extreme pleasure to say we are back. While we may have an opportunity to reach or even surpass our pre COVID numbers, we cannot become complacent.
“The goal is to constantly increase our tourism product until we are ranked the number 1 cruise destination. This season we plan to diversify our tourism product and focus on our cultural heritage. The theme should be what makes us unique. Once we are able to highlight what makes us unique it becomes our job to share that uniqueness with the rest of the world.”
The high season forecast arrivals are tied to the occupancy levels of cruise ships stabilizing over the past months with consumer confidence and ratings higher than ever based on industry trends and developments.
Port St. Maarten Group (PSG) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alexander Gumbs said cruise lines are also experiencing higher passenger spending levels which is ideal for the destination.
“Based on the passenger arrival forecast, more than 133.000 visitors are expected in November 2022, 196.000 December 2022, and for the start of the new year, close to a quarter of a million passengers - 230.000 January 2023, followed by 157.000 February 2023, 159.000 March 2023 and 142.000 in April 2023.
“Based on the calendar year 2023, the numbers are still a bit under pre-pandemic levels due to having a soft off season. The off season is a point of focus for our team, but limited options are available due to less ships being in the region during that period as they switch to other cruise line itineraries in the Mediterranean and Alaska.
“The effects of the pandemic and ships/equipment being sold will have an impact until more ships are deployed by the various cruise lines. The great news is that new build ships are moving ahead, and several are being launched on an annual basis.
“The hopes are that in the coming year or two, the Caribbean summer months will normalize once again to post-pandemic levels. The Caribbean cruise market remains with the largest market share of cruise passengers, but other regions are becoming more popular and competitive.
“There’s work for us to do to continue to differentiate our offerings and services from the other destinations in the Caribbean. We are also reliant on those destinations to continue to enhance their offerings as well as an itinerary is ideally based on a few great destinations and not just one.
“With one million cruise visitors forecast for the next six months, other than transit calls, we will now have seven cruise line brands homeport from Port St. Maarten this season, the most to date. I would like to thank the PSG Team as well as stakeholders and the cruise industry partners for working diligently over the past months as we are now set to see the fruits of our labor come to fruition,” Gumbs said on Wednesday.
PSG CEO Gumbs added; besides cruise industry product differentiation, more focus and emphasis is being placed on Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) as cruise lines scramble to reduce their carbon footprint.
“Strategically PSG is also working towards ESG and how best we, along with our local and international partners can facilitate with further reducing carbon emissions.
“This is the future of cruising, and we have to be ready as this will be included in the decision-making process in creating itineraries of the future by the industry,” Gumbs said on Wednesday.