Chilean officials, led by Félix de Vicente Minister of Economy, Development and Tourism, joined senior cruise line executives, port and destination leaders, tour operators, travel agents and suppliers for a robust Seatrade Latin America Cruise Convention in Valparaíso, Chile.
The two-day Seatrade Latin America event concluded on May 15 after drawing tourism, transport and port officials from across the region, more than 200 delegates from 15 countries and nearly 100 travel agents for specialized cruise sales training.
"After the first two Seatrade Latin America events focused on Brazil and Argentina, it's really exciting to have the opportunity to look at the prospects for Pacific Coast cruise tourism and Chile's role in that," said Chris Hayman, chairman of Seatrade, organisers of Seatrade Latin
America. "We had tremendous support from the government of Chile and other interests. It's obvious that Chile really wants to engage in cruise tourism and has made the commitment to prepare for its growth."
Conference sessions addressed wide-ranging issues and opportunities including cabotage, new itineraries, operating costs, infrastructure, product development, excursions, service and quality, the emerging expedition cruise sector and Latin America as a source market for cruising.
"Cruising is important for the economic development of our country," Minister de Vicente told the Seatrade Latin America keynote session, adding that Chile is a good place to visit and to do business, with strong GDP growth, transparency, security, low corruption, competitiveness, innovation and abundant natural attractions.
Chile's Transport Undersecretary Gloria Hutt said her country is working to ensure it has adequate infrastructure to grow tourism, including good port facilities to support the cruise business, more capacity, better services and connectivity and greater efficiency.
Chile's tourism growth is outpacing the region, according to Sernatur Director Daniel Pardo, who outlined a concrete, long-term national strategy to foster that growth including a sustainability program and new destinations and products that benefit the cruise sector. Pardo added that Chile wants to foster a year-round cruise business and is committed to developing new North Pacific and South Pacific routes.
Senior cruise officials from Carnival Corp. & plc, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., MSC Cruises, Costa Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Hurtigruten, Un-Cruise Adventures, Ecoventura, Lindblad Expeditions and Cruceros Australis, among others, participated in Seatrade Latin America as speakers and delegates.
"This continent is, was and will remain very important for us," said Giora Israel, senior vice president, Global Ports & Destinations Development Group, Carnival Corp. & plc, representing 10 global cruise brands.
On behalf of Seatrade, acclaimed sales training expert Scott Koepf, vice president of sales for Avoya Travel, one of North America's largest cruise retailers, led Cruise Day Training educational sessions for regional travel agents.
Apart from conference sessions and an exhibition, Seatrade Latin America featured ample networking opportunities and a lively social program, including varied music and dance performances highlighting different regions of Chile. Traditional culinary specialties and the country's famous wines were served throughout. A Gala Dinner on May 14 took all delegates to the Valparaíso Sporting Club in Viña del Mar where an exciting horse race kicked off the evening followed by dining, live music and wine tasting.
"We are full of pride to host the cruise industry in Chile," said Sebastián Montero Lira, president of the Southern Cone Ports Corp. (Conosur).