With thousands of cruise visitors descending on ecologically sensitive places like Venice and Dubrovnik, the cruise industry has come under fire for “over-tourism” which has left local communities struggling to manage the crowds and minimize the negative impact while continuing to support the many positive contributions the industry brings. With the order book at 124 in the next 10 years, and growing, it’s a challenge the entire industry is facing in some of the most popular cruise ports in the world.
Enter Holistica, a 50-50 partnership created by Royal Caribbean and ITM Group, dedicated to sustainable destination development. ITM Group, a privately owned Mexican company, develops tourism infrastructure and has built and currently operates 6 cruise ports in Mexico and the Caribbean. The name of this new partnership speaks to its foundational approach to the sustainable development of coastal communities. The joint venture will use a holistic approach in projects aimed at development in new and existing destinations to generate economic growth for communities and preserve and sustain natural resources.
In a written statement, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley said: “The continuing growth and rising popularity of cruise vacations make it clear that the sustainable development of coastal destinations, including the thoughtful evolution of existing ones, is in the travel industry’s best interest.”
“A well-designed destination brings economic benefits to communities and cultural enrichment to travelers, while creating the least possible disruption to the human and natural environment,” said Mauricio Hamui, CEO of ITM Group. “There is a way to do these projects inclusively, collaboratively, and sustainably.”
Holistica’s first project, currently under review by the Bahamian government, will be the revitalization of Grand Lucayan Resort in Freeport, Bahamas with an estimated price tag of $275 million. On deck are plans to own and operate destinations in Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; and Kumamoto, Japan, among others. Expected to serve 8 million visitors annually, these projects will be accessible to all travelers, including land and air vacationers, not just cruise visitors. The two companies announced that Holistica is engaged in discussions regarding multiple existing and proposed destinations around the world. Also underway is the search for the CEO who will be at the helm of this new venture.
This post was written by Shannon Mckee, founder of Access Cruise Inc. Access Cruise Inc is a Miami based cruise marketing and sales consulting group, specializing in product and business development within the cruise industry.