Texas 'hidden jewel' aspires to attract cruise ships

SPI Cruise Group—a partnership of seasoned cruise port design, maritime operations and marketing professionals—is creating a plan to develop South Padre Island, Texas, into a destination for western Caribbean cruises.

With increasing emphasis on tourism sustainability and concerns of over-tourism in some Caribbean ports, cruise lines are seeking alternatives with existing tourism infrastructure. As cruising from Galveston grows, South Padre Island is well-positioned to provide a fresh new destination with attractive shore excursion opportunities that explore the land, sea and sky, as well as some of the most attractive beaches in the region.

'South Padre Island has been a hidden US jewel for many years,' Mayor Dennis Stahl said. 'We are looking forward to sharing our unique ecotourism sites, like Sea Turtle Inc., a renowned sea turtle rescue center, and the Birding and Nature Center, a world-class birdwatching destination, in addition to our pristine beaches and adventure activities.'

The South Padre Island, Texas, City Council recently approved the SPI Cruise Group's proposal to create a plan to develop the destination for cruise calls.

SPI Cruise Group is composed of four companies experienced in the port development, cruise and maritime industries. They include MarketScope, led by Jay Lewis, who masterminded cruising's first scannable 'comment card' and its first automated brochure-ordering system, and has served as adjunct professor of marketing at the University of Miami and as a lecturer at Oxford and Cambridge universities for the Seatrade Cruise Academy.

IDEA is a noted design and planning firm that's working on Port Grand Lucaya on Grand Bahama Island and whose portfolio includes major cruise developments like Falmouth, Jamaica; Harvest Caye, Belize; and Icy Strait Point, Alaska, among others.

Cruise and Port Advisors, led by cruise industry veteran Roger Blum, helps clients in multiple industries tailor their products and services to meet the needs of today’s cruise industry. Clients include destinations, port authorities, shore excursion operators, medical facilities, manning agents and on-board revenue partners.

NewmanPR, specialized in the leisure travel, maritime and cruise industries for more than 70 years, has clients including the Florida Keys tourism council, Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line and port-development projects Icy Strait Point, Alaska, and Banana Coast, Honduras.

The initial stage of the project is expected to take four months to complete, and includes an aggressive marketing and communications plan to raise awareness of South Padre Island’s potential among cruise industry executives.

Posted 04 January 2018

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Anne Kalosh

Editor, Seatrade Cruise News & Senior Associate Editor Seatrade Cruise Review