Cruise Ship Arrivals Stimulate Martinique TourismMar 16, 2018
Photo: Martinique the French port of call in the Caribbean, Source: Martinque Tourism Authority
By: Brian Major
Source: Travel Pulse
Martinique tourism stakeholders are on the verge of achieving a goal nearly a decade in the making.
The country hosted 511,147 cruise ship passengers in 2017, the country’s best-ever total and a significant factor in its record 1,041,139 cruise ship and overnight land-based visitors last year.
Additional traffic generated by cruises altered by September 2017 hurricanes Irma and Maria generated significant residual business say Martinique Tourism Authority (MTA) officials. As a result, 151 calls have been added in addition to the previously scheduled 214 calls for the 2017/2018 cruise season said officials, a 70 percent increase from MTA’s initial forecast.
Martinique emerged largely unscathed from the September storms while nearby islands suffered extensive damage. Nearly 120,000 cruise passengers visited Martinique in December, another “major milestone” according to MTA officials.
Last year’s 511,174 cruise passengers outpaced the 381,157 recorded in 2016 by 34 percent as ship calls increased 28 percent during the same period. Martinique’s current cruise season, which extends from September 2017 to August 2018, will welcome 366 cruise ship calls, up 115 percent from 170 calls in 2016-2017, and 667,061 passengers, an 85 percent increase compared with 360,076 cruise visitors in 2016-17.
Photo: Martinique is seeing a surge in tourism, thanks to cruise ship arrivals. (photo courtesy of Frizzantine/iStock/Getty Images Plus)
As recently as 2010, Martinique tourism officials sought a method to invigorate its cruise ship arrivals. The strategy was aimed not only at increasing the number of ocean-going arrivals, but exposing North American travelers to the destination and generating interest in later land-based stays.
A total of 105,968 passengers disembarked from cruise ships to explore Fort de France and Martinique in 2017, up 5.34 percent compared with the 100.591 recorded in 2016. Beyond the increased cruise ship traffic, Martinique has also benefitted from expanded air access tied to new regular service from Norwegian Air.
“Martinique is welcoming thousands of new cruise passengers every year during the peak cruise seasons,” said Karine Mousseau, Martinique’s tourism commissioner. “Through strategic partnerships, we have been able to position the island as a cruise destination of choice in the U.S. and European markets. We are committed to continuously improving amenities, facilities, and infrastructure. The welcome is warm and we are eager to share our unique French-Caribbean Creole culture with our American guests.”
Beginning in 2011 Martinique’s government implemented “action plans and improvements” designed to extend “accessibility, modern amenities, and resources” to cruise ship passengers. The enhancements include greeting hosts at the newly established tourist information center, which also serves as taxi dispatchers’ station.
MTA has also worked with suppliers to develop new excursion options including a turtle discovery experience; bat cave snorkeling; diving and tricycles in Fort-de-France. Culinary experiences, tours of the Saint Pierre region, and tours of Martinique’s rainforest, botanical gardens and historic distilleries complete the new offerings. Martinique’s cruise ship terminals are convenient to other Fort de France attractions, including the Schœlcher Library to Fort Saint Louis.
The Pointe Simon Cruise Terminal, the most frequented Fort de France cruise facility, is attached to Le Malecon, a seaside promenade leading directly into downtown Fort de France.
The Tourelles Cruise Terminal recently received an upgrade with expanded facilities, additional security lines and new VIP room for larger, home-ported vessels.