South America was described as a ‘fantastic destination’ for the cruise industry but with an even greater potential said Chris Hayman at the closing ceremony of the two-day Seatrade South America Cruise Convention in Buenos Aires.
Following on announcements from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay in support of the industry, CEO Hayman said that “South America represents a fantastic destination and itinerary prospect. It has many established itineraries but a great deal more can be done. This week has seen fruitful discussion and a productive two days in Buenos Aires”.
The Cruise Day, co-organized by Seatrade and Noticias de Cruceros, drew more than 200 agents to hear presentations from a wide range of speakers and lines including ABREMAR (the Brazilian Cruise Association), MSC Cruises, Costa, Pullmantur, Iberocruceros, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess, Cunard, Hurtigruten and Silversea Cruises.
As successful as it has been so far, cruising in South America is only in its infancy, according to Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, who was among the high-powered speakers at the opening session. ‘We are at the very, very beginning of this game,’ he said. ‘If this were a football game, we’re in the first five or 10 minutes of play.’
Seatrade South America delegates heard about a diverse range of issues from across the region in presentations and panels by cruise line leaders; top port, tourism and transport officials; and suppliers and experts in areas from shore excursions to shipbuilding to supply chain.
Interesting discussions surrounded the vast port investments that will support Brazil’s hosting of the World Cup in 2014 and the Summer Olympics in 2016, and the new passenger terminal planned for Valparaíso, Chile, which begins construction in 2013. It emerged that Uruguay is considering a terminal facility in Montevideo to support embarkations for its growing domestic cruise market.
Also presented was a project to develop river cruising on the Paraná River between Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls, and the need to develop new ports in southern Brazil and itineraries along the continent’s Pacific coast. Delegates heard about Ecuador’s diversification of its offerings and its focus on quality tourism and how Colombia, with its thriving Caribbean cruise business, now hopes to develop Pacific routes.
The popularity of cruising among Brazilians, Argentines and Uruguayans is fuelling the push to create fresh itineraries to satisfy repeat customers, delegates said, while also noting the emerging cruise markets in other countries across the region. With options to cruise visa-free thanks to inter-porting operations in Colombia and Panama, as well as from homeports in Argentina and Brazil, a year-round business is developing.
Costs and infrastructure issues that challenge further growth were key points that emerged during Seatrade South America, along with the need for greater regional cooperation and calls for a broad-based association focused on the cruise industry.
The 2013 Seatrade South America will be hosted by Chile in mid-May. (Travel Daily News).-