Gov. Kenneth Mapp and a majority of V.I. legislators are in Florida this week for the annual Seatrade Cruise Global Conference in Fort Lauderdale. Lt. Gov. Osbert Potter is serving as acting governor through Friday.
The conference is expected to bring together all facets of the international cruise business – cruise lines, suppliers, travel agents and partners – for a week of networking for V.I. representatives to try to lure more ships to the territory, according to a statement from Sen. Kenneth Gittens, one of the V.I. attendees.
“The tourism atmosphere and specifically the cruise industry is rapidly changing and this conference is just one of the ways that we can continue to remain abreast of the changes,” Gittens said.
“Attending these conferences and the innovative workshops offers opportunities to network with the top executives in the industry and gain exposure of how we can be proactive in driving our tourism product upward.”
According to Gittens, is a great tool for local officials, with almost two dozen workshops focused on all aspects of the industry from improving port destination appeal, capitalizing on climate for seasonality, transforming tourist experiences, terminal design and security, and even using social media to market destinations.
The event workshops began Monday and are expected to draw more than 11,000 registered attendees from around the world as it runs through the end of the week, Gittens said in a statement.
“This is truly an event where we can connect globally,” he said. “There is a great global market out there waiting to come to our territory and enjoy our rich heritage and natural beauty,” Gittens said.
The conference’s trade show floor opened Tuesday with close to 800 exhibitors from 83 countries.
Senate President Neville James, Sens. Almando "Rocky" Liburd, Positive Nelson, Novelle Francis, Kurt Vialet, Myron Jackson, Clifford Graham and Jean Forde are also attending, along with officials from the Tourism Department, the West Indies Co. Ltd. and the V.I. Port Authority.