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21st Annual FCCA Conference and Trade Show helps destinations and stakeholders increase cruise tourism business

The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Conference & Trade Show closed yesterday as the largest and most successful in the event's 21-year history. Over 1,200 cruise tourism stakeholders-along with 100 cruise line executives, presidents and CEOs-gathered for a four-day agenda loaded with business sessions, networking opportunities and chances to maximize cruise tourism's impact, along with the attention and knowledge of cruise line personnel who decide where cruise ships call, what to sell onboard and if they should invest in destination infrastructure.

Attendees must now return to their home countries, but a sense of success and achievement still linger from their private, pre-selected one-on-one meetings with cruise executives and casual discussions during social functions that displayed St. Maarten's destination product, culture, gastronomy and engaging atmosphere that helped attendees and executives feel comfortable so they could talk freely and forge relationships.

Insightful workshops and speeches should also resound with delegates. Topics focused on multiple industry facets to help the numerous sectors maximize their share of cruise tourism. Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line CEO and FCCA chairman, opened the event with a speech recognizing the partnerships between the cruise lines, FCCA and destinations' private and public sectors, along with addressing how to grow cruise tourism through synergizing those entities and constantly refreshing destination products.

Adam Goldstein, president and COO, Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd. (RCCL), continued this notion on a global scale, reminding attendees of their worldwide competition and equipping them with the knowledge necessary to compete. This instruction also included aligning with the FCCA and cruise lines-particularly, collaborating with the different lines to offer products that appeal to the individual brands and their target markets-and renewing products. To this end, Goldstein cited CTO's Future Caribbean Cruise Travel Survey's findings that cruise passengers are more interested in destinations than ships, and this interest primarily values cultural heritage and culinary experiences. As Goldstein noted, cruise lines call wherever there is demand, and "[the] Caribbean's ability to stimulate the required demand will be directly dependent upon its capacity to refresh and reinvent its tourism economies by effectively adapting to the ever-changing global environment, pushing the envelope, taking risks and launching innovations, which consistently deliver on changing consumer expectations."

The presidents and CEOs-Goldstein; Sheehan; Gerald Cahill, president & CEO, Carnival Cruise Lines; and Richard Fain, president & CEO, RCCL-further shared their invaluable expertise during a roundtable discussion where they revealed their lines' latest happenings and future developments and answered questions applying to attendees' destinations and operations. Other workshops applied the knowledge of cruise executives, presidents and CEOs, along with successful stakeholders, to concentrate on how the multifaceted attendees can maximize their cruise tourism business-from entire destinations to tour operators and port authorities.

The Trade Show also made an impression on all attendees, as it was the largest in the event's history and combined creative booths and pavilions with innovative and varying products-from tourism ministries and tour operators to custom T-shirts and "water UFO" jet boats-with all of the entertainment, handouts and delicacies supplied by exhibitors.

Better yet, the Trade Show will remain on the executives', presidents' and CEOs' minds, and exhibiters had prime opportunities to be noticed by this influential audience in a venue to consider new business and foster existing business.

In all, the FCCA Conference and Trade Show provided a unique chance for entities doing or wishing to do business with the cruise industry to develop relationships with cruise executives, presidents and CEOs; present their destination or product; and learn about the cruise industry and what cruise lines seek in shore excursions, products, services, infrastructure and destinations. The event helped attendees establish a clear vision that will map the road to success in future cruise tourism dealings.

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