FCCA President, Minister Pantophlet attend kick-off meeting for 2014 FCCA Conference

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PRESS RELEASE #254


PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten (April 19, 2013) – Preparations are in full swing for the premier cruise industry event of the year – the 21st Annual Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Cruise Conference and Trade Show. The event will bring together more than 1,000 cruise industry partners and approximately 100 cruise executives when St. Maarten hosts the mega event during Sept./Oct. 2014 (exact date TBD).

On April 16, 2013, Michele Paige, President of the FCCA and Hon. Romeo Pantophlet, Minister of Tourism & Economic Affairs, attended the kick-off meeting at the Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise Facility in St. Maarten.

Minister Pantophlet and Mark Mingo, CEO of the St. Maarten Harbour Group, provided an update to a four-member delegation from the FCCA, headed by its President Michele Paige.

St. Maarten last hosted the FCCA conference and trade show in 2004. Notes Mingo, "We are looking forward to another successful event where the country can be showcased to cruise executives."

The FCCA's mandate is to foster a better understanding of the cruise industry and to develop cooperative relationships with destination partners at both the public and private sector levels.

The conference presents opportunities for all stakeholders involved in the cruise sector, including an increase in the cruise industry contact base from cruise executives, operations, purchasing, marketing and shore excursions as well as gaining insight on what cruise lines look for in-shore excursions, products, and services.

Paige stated at the meeting that the conference is an opportunity where all decision-makers of the industry will be present and private sector stakeholders will be able to have direct conversations with cruise line CEOs. Paige added that St. Maarten is growing in every way, but that new tours will need to be added annually – tours that educate and entertain cruise passengers.

The Steering Committee members are the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, the St. Maarten Harbour Group, the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA), the St. Maarten Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Princess Juliana International Airport, and Branding and Marketing Destination.

"Private sector involvement is essential in making the 21st Annual FCCA Cruise Conference & Trade Show a success. I see this as a big opportunity for our private sector especially where it comes to deliberations and the exchange of ideas and views with cruise executives," Mingo said, continuing: "Our destination has to think outside of the box. Tour and destination development are key areas that we have to focus on for continued future success of our cruise sector."

For additional information on St. Maarten, visit the official site of the St. Maarten Tourist Bureau at www.VacationStMaarten.com.

St. Maarten

St. Maarten is the smallest island in the world to be shared by two nations, Kingdom of the Netherlands and France, creating a European-influenced vibe with a Caribbean flair. As "the culinary capital of the Caribbean," St. Maarten offers an eclectic array of cuisine fusion for food lovers with more than 365 restaurants, one for each day of the year to satisfy the tastes of every palate and pocketbook.

Located at the northern end of the Lesser Antilles, the island's 37 square miles has 37 breathtaking beaches and is home to many historical and family-oriented attractions. During the day, watersport enthusiasts can take full advantage of the island's scuba diving and snorkeling facilities. The capital of Philipsburg offers duty-free shopping with a bustling city atmosphere, while 14 casinos and numerous nightclubs provide endless entertainment.

Accommodations are varied and include elegant private villas, family oriented resorts, quaint cottages and luxury spa resorts. Air service is available to Princess Juliana International Airport from numerous U.S. and Canadian cities as well as from Europe, South America and the Caribbean.

Find St. Maarten on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/VacationStMaarten and follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/StMaartenTravel.

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