St. Maarten Invests in Destination’s Economy by Hosting FCCA Conference & Trade Show

Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association’s (FCCA) annual keynote event, the Conference & Trade Show, has a 20-year history of increasing cruise tourism’s impact for its host destinations by spotlighting their products, experiences and infrastructure to the industry’s most influential decision makers-over 100 executives, presidents and CEOs from FCCA’s 15 Member Lines, which operate over 100 ships in Caribbean and Latin American waters.

St. Maarten is looking to build onto their past growth by hosting their second FCCA Conference & Trade Show from October 6 – 10. The destination knows the significance of hosting this event because of their progress after their first Conference in 2003. In 2001, St. Maarten Harbour Group of Companies reported 875,540 passenger arrivals. This number rose 70 percent to 1,490,386 in 2005, just two years after hosting the Conference.

As the destination knows, these numbers extend far beyond the cruise pier; they impact the entire economy. According to the Business Research & Economic Advisors (BREA) 2012 study, Economic Contribution of Cruise Tourism to the Destination Economies, the average expenditure per passenger in St. Maarten was $185.40, which benefitted numerous industries through purchases of goods that included food and beverage at restaurants and bars, clothing, shore excursions, ground transportation, local crafts and souvenirs, watches and jewelry, perfumes and cosmetics, electronics, entertainment/night clubs/casinos, retail purchases of liquor, and telephone and internet.

However, this is hardly the only economic contribution provided by cruise tourism. The same study showed that the average expenditure per crew in St. Maarten was $135.50 for similar products and services. Plus it revealed the direct and indirect employment generated by the cruise industry, totaling 8,123 jobs and $159.8 million in employee wages.

By these numbers, St. Maarten’s 70 percent increase after hosting their first Conference would represent an increase of $114 million in passenger spending alone, along with the coinciding growth of crew spending, cruise line spending, and employment.

Projecting this same growth after this year’s Conference would be aggressive, considering that in 2014 St. Maarten expects 1.67 million passenger arrivals onboard 523 vessels from FCCA Member Lines alone. But a single cruise ship has a large economic wake. BREA’s figures show that just one average cruise vessel-130,000 GRT, 1,040 feet long, carrying 3,000 passengers and 500 crewmembers-would generate $556,200 in passenger spending and $67,750 in crew spending, along with roughly $15,000 in port fees, totaling $638,950 in direct economic contribution, not including employment and other indirect contributions.

Projecting a more conservative growth rate of 20 percent, or 105 additional cruise ship calls, would mean an extra $67 million per year directly contributed to St. Maarten’s economy. Plus a 20 percent increase in cruise tourism-impacted employment would represent 1,625 more jobs with $32 million in wages.

Considering this potential economic impact, it becomes easy to understand why St. Maarten again decided to invest in its entire destination’s economy by hosting the FCCA Conference & Trade Show.

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