South America's cruise industry has been growing fast and holds vast potential, but the region must work together to tackle issues, create demand and rein in costs, said speakers at the Seatrade South America Cruise Convention in Buenos Aires.
South America represents a fantastic destination and itinerary prospect. It has many established itineraries but a great deal more can be done, said Seatrade chairman Chris Hayman in welcoming delegates to the convention at the Terminal de Cruceros Quinquela Martin Buenos Aires, Argentina. Hayman added that the continent also holds great potential as a source of passengers, a market that is already being tapped but can grow much further.
Leaders from lines including MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Costa Cruceros and Iberocruceros joined officials from Argentina’s Port of Buenos Aires and Inprotur, Chile’s Transport and Tourism Ministries, Uruguay’s Ministry of Tourism, Ecuador’s Ministry of Tourism, Proexport Colombia and Brazil’s EMBRATUR and ABREMAR, among other industry stakeholders, to discuss opportunities and challenges.
The potential for cruising in this region is enormous said Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. He cited South America’s ‘fantastic history and culture, and amazing places to see, many of them along the coast.’ Plus, thanks to the strong economies in the region, South America is an appealing source market for cruisers.
But Goldstein pointed to competition from other regions and urged countries to ‘work together to create the best possible business conditions for the industry to grow,’ and said: We need better infrastructure in the region and a lower cost environment, a sentiment echoed by other cruise line speakers.
Noting how Buenos Aires -which sports a new cruise terminal, built in 2010- has grown rapidly in the cruise sector in a very short period, MSC Cruises CEO Pierfrancesco Vago expressed his hope that the Argentine government and regulators take notice of the industry’s strong economic impact, with passenger spending averaging 900 Pesos (195 dollars).
Capt. Sergio Borrelli, president of the Port Authority of Buenos Aires, said that bringing together regional cruise stakeholders in an association will be crucial for the industry.
Brazil needs other countries to make an appealing itinerary, agreed Ricardo Amaral, president of the Brazilian Cruise Association (ABREMAR). Noting that Brazil’s cruise business has an economic impact of 1.3bn Reais (814 million dollars) and creates 22,000 direct and indirect jobs, Amaral called on countries like Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Colombia to conduct their own research to show governments, the media and the public what the cruise industry means for their economies.
Leonard Boto Alvarez, executive director of Inprotur, noted his country is now South America’s leading international tourist destination, and said cruising holds much promise. He cited the possibility for river cruise tourism, and the further development of Antarctica cruises from Ushuaia.
At the conference, Seatrade's Chris Hayman presented Chile’s Undersecretary of Tourism Jacqueline Plass Wähling with the first Seatrade South America Award to acknowledge her activity in fostering cruising.
Seatrade South America took place at the Quinquela Martin Cruise Terminal in Buenos Aires with conference sessions, an exhibition and a travel agent day. More than 200 agents registered for training.
Seatrade South America Cruise Convention returns in 2013, May 15-16 in Chile. (Travel Daily News).