A panel of experts, including Michael Ronan, Royal Caribbean’s vice president of government relations, Caribbean, Latin America and Asia, discussed Chile’s opportunities in the cruise industry and how the country is facing challenges and issues during a seminar at Cruise Shipping Miami 2010.
During his opening speech, Ronan emphasized the importance of the combined efforts of the Chilean government and port associations, and the many features Chile has to offer to cruise travelers.
“The country’s cultural, natural and historical attractions combined with their people offer a unique cruise destination,” said Ronan. “We see a tremendous opportunity in the international market, and there are many possibilities for new regional itineraries in the future.
“There is a market for this product,” he said. “Passengers are looking for larger ships with all the technological advantages to visit unique destinations.”
One of the main challenges Chile’s cruise industry faces is the decrease in cruise passengers the last season. The international economic situation and high maritime costs in Chilean ports and the requirement of closing onboard casinos while vessels are in Chilean maritime territory have caused a decline in cruise calls in the country.
“Chile is taking the necessary measures to position the country once again as one of the main cruise destinations in South America,” said Teodoro Wigodski, president of the Southern Cone Ports Corporation. “We have initiated conversations with the Chilean Navy, the casino superintendent, the Ministry of Transportation and the treasury department to address the different issues and create solutions that meet the industry’s needs.”
Other speakers included José Luis Sepúlveda, head of planning and MDA of the Directorate for Maritime Safety, Security and Operations of the Chilean Navy and José Retamales, national director of the Chilean Antarctic Institute.