Meetings & Events munity safe, because, right now, due to the pandemic, we have no cruise tourism at all, and that’s a sad day for our country. So, our immediate priority has been to discuss a way forward that will allow cruise ships to return while keeping our communities safe.” Another topic of discussion at Wednesday’s meetings was how local tour and water-sports operators on Cayman could get a higher percentage of revenue from the pre-booked tours and experiences. Bryan said there was a “compelling need” for government, FCCA representatives and all cruise sector tourism stakeholders to work collaboratively “to find ways to rebalance the distribution of income derived from the cruise tourism industry so that Caymanian business owners have the opportunity to increase the earnings in return for the hard work they put into consistently delivering a high-quality tourism product.” Paige, addressing the gathering, said the cruise industry was looking forward to “renewing [the relationship] with the Cayman Islands.” She continued, “The Cayman Islands, because of the private sector, has always delivered a phenomenal experience. You’ve always been at the highlight of every single cruise passenger’s experience. So, it is only fitting, that with the work that is being put in place, to make sure that we elevate the product and elevate the expenditure that the passengers and crew spend in the Cayman Islands, that it is going to be a very rewarding time for all Caymanians.” She also pointed out that cruises to Cayman may not resemble those that took place before the pandemic, and that the industry was looking to the future, not to replicate past experiences. “The cruise industry has to respect what the Cayman Islands wants in terms of the cruise industry product,” she said. “So, it’s a respect back-and-forth, and that’s where we are right now, is discussing that respect. It’s almost like when you’re painting a picture, it’s like a blank canvas, and you can do whatever you want. There are no preconceived notions.” Belize An Operations Committee delegation, including five Member Line exec10 FIRST QUARTER 2022 | TRAVEL & CRUISE
Cayman Government and Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association representatives pose for a group shot at a networking event at the Kimpton Seafire. In the center of the front row, from left, are Tourism Minister Kenneth Bryan, Governor Martyn Roper, FCCA president Michele Paige and Premier Wayne Panton. Photo: Cayman Islands Ministry of Tourism
utives and FCCA’s Michele Paige and Senior Vice President Adam Ceserano, then traveled to Belize for a site visit from February 28 to March 1. The first day kicked off with a meet and greet on arrival with transfers to the hotel for check in and refreshments. A meeting in the hotel’s conference room followed for a briefing on the Port of Magical Belize (Portico Enterprises Ltd), including background on the project, its justification, the partnership with Royal Boskalis, the environmental clearance process, the environmental compliance plan secured by Portico Enterprises Ltd., the agreement signed with the Government of Belize, and updated information on the phases of environmental clearance being carried out. The meeting also featured a Q&A session with the cruise executives and finished on a high note with FCCA signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Government of Belize. The new modern cruise port in Belize will provide a mainland docking facility in the Belize District, thereby sustaining the cruise industry and relevant Belizean stakeholders; the construction of two piers in Phase 1 that will accommodate four of the largest ships currently in service, with plans to develop a third pier to accommodate an additional two ships in subsequent phases; a
safe, secure, and scenic environment for the operations of cruise ships in Belize; faster access to traditional tour sites and attractions being offered to cruise passengers; appropriate security, duty-free and local handicraft shopping, Belizean branded food and beverage facilities, and amenities and attractions such as swimming pools, beaches, and over the water cabanas; traditional cultural attractions, exhibits, and entertainment; and development of new and nearby tour infrastructure. The group then departed for dinner at Casa Sirena with Minister of Tourism Hon. Anthony Mahler. The next day started with breakfast at the hotel followed by a transfer to the Astrum Helicopter departure facility for flights to the Port site and a flyover of the Northern Lagoon and the Peccary Hills National Park. The helicopter also landed at the designated Landings Site in the Peccary Hills for a tractor and trailer ride through the scenic Karst Hills to Golden Sands Beach on Northern Lagoon – with all areas visited within a 10-mile radius of the new port. The group then transferred by boat from the Northern Lagoon via the Sibun River to Old Belize Marina for a return to the hotel and lunch before catching flights home.