Under a new agreement, the Virgin Islands government will receive guidance from the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association on “enhancing” the territory’s “product” and increasing cruise calls, the trade association announced last week.
However, the agreement will not be made public, VI officials said.
A March 13 press release from the FCCA lists several benefits that the VI is expected to receive from the “strategic development agreement,” but it does not disclose any commitments that the government made in return.
“Through this agreement, FCCA is fully committed to fulfilling individualised initiatives, which focus on assisting the private sector, improving employment, fostering cruise lines’ purchase of local goods, and more that will help locals prosper from the economic impact that the industry brings,” FCCA President Michele Paige said in the press release.
Asked on March 13 for a copy of the agreement, Government Communications Director Dr. Arliene Penn directed this reporter to Vance Lewis, the CEO of Tortola Pier Park Limited. Mr. Lewis declined to provide it.
“Unfortunately, the agreement signed between BVI Ports Authority and FCCA is a private agreement which is not normally shared with third parties,” he wrote in an email. “However, all the information relevant to the agreement is contained in the press release.”
Mr. Lewis copied BVIPA Marketing Director Natasha Chalwell, who subsequently provided a brief summary of the deal but confirmed that the BVIPA would not share the agreement itself, “as it is a business agreement between the two parties.”
She added, “The information in the FCCA’s press release and the summary I provided should suffice [to] cover the scope of this partnership.”
The FCCA did not respond to requests for the agreement.
The press release explains that the agreement grants the VI the status of “FCCA Presidential Partner.” Though it adds that the territory previously held the same status after hurricanes Irma and Maria, it doesn’t say when the status was removed.
The release does, however, state that the agreement will “facilitate new experiences to offer cruise companies and collaborate with the local private sector to maximise any opportunities.”
“Additionally, the agreement will utilise FCCA’s cruise executive committees, including sub-committees focused on employment and purchasing, for a series of meetings and site visits focused on the British Virgin Islands’ objectives,” the release states.
It adds that the territory will have “open access to the FCCA Executive Committee, comprised of presidents and above of FCCA member lines, along with their efforts to effectuate the agreement’s objectives and the destination’s goals.”
Other focus areas of the agreement include working to encourage cruise ship guests to return as overnight visitors; promoting summer ship calls; engaging travel agents; and “creating consumer demand and developing a destination-service-needs assessment” that reviews strengths, opportunities and needs, according to the press release.
The summary provided by Ms. Chalwell contains similar information as the FCCA press release.
“The FCCA ‘Presidential Partner’ Strategic Development partnership was born from a directive by the FCCA Executive Committee, comprised of presidents and above representing FCCA’s 23 member cruise lines, to provide more hands-on access for destinations,” the summary states. “The exclusive, capped programme is limited to three destination partners and focuses on the destination’s specific goals.”
The summary also lists various “resources” available to “Presidential Partners:” press and marketing initiatives; meetings with “high level cruise executives throughout the year;” site visits with cruise executives; “preferred access” to FCCA cruise executive committees, and others.
“The partnership between the British Virgin Islands and FCCA is geared around growing cruise calls, increasing passenger and crew spending, promoting the British Virgin Islands as a year-round cruise destination, and supporting the local economy through all the positive aspects of cruise tourism,” the summary adds.
The FCCA describes itself as a trade association that represents the “mutual interests of destinations and stakeholders throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Mexico, along with member lines that operate over 90 percent of the