The devastation caused by recent storms in the Caribbean has been unprecedented and represent an emerging humanitarian crisis on several islands known for tourism.
Royal Caribbean Cruises CEO Richard Fain thinks tourism will be a catalyst for a sustained recovery by the countries and states that have been affected the most. Speaking at Skift Global Forum 2017 Tuesday morning in New York City, Fain gave his perspective on the potential recovery process and the untold challenges that will emerge during the coming years.
“It’s been a really terrible summer from that point of view,” said Fain, referencing earthquakes in Mexico, hurricanes rocking the Caribbean, and typhoons across Asia. “To see the amount of devastation is just horrible and to see people put out of their homes with their electric grids disintegrated points out the importance of tourism when we talk about these countries.
“I think they will recover much quicker than most people realize, even a place like Puerto Rico which has been particularly hard hit with two consecutive storms. I’ll take a long time to recover but the tourism will come back very quickly because they see the importance of it to their economy… we’ll see that the economy of Puerto Rico, for example, will be much stronger in a few years. The time to get there will be horrific for everyone, but the end result will be a much stronger and vibrant economy.”
Fain also touched on the importance of younger cruisers and the new-to-cruise on his company’s three cruise lines moving into the future. While best known as a haven for older travelers, multi-generational travel driven by onboard activities and amenities represents the most important potential market for Royal Caribbean Cruises.
“Millennials set a lot of the standards that other people follow and, yes, it’s important that we get them onboard,” said Fain. “The fastest growing part of our business is actually family travel. Once we get those children, we own the parents and the grandparents because they have such a good time on the cruise. We are blessed because what we offer happens to fit in with the way people are acting these days. We’ve gone through the different cycles but one of the fairly dramatic changes we’re seeing in society is that the experience is what they are looking for. Fortunately, we happen to be in an industry that offers experience.”