Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL) unveiled a new model for
cruise destination development, formalizing a partnership with Mexico's ITM
Group to pursue projects in collaboration with local authorities.
The new company, dubbed Holistica, will be owned 50% by each
partner and have offices in Miami.
Part of the idea, said Royal Caribbean International
president Michael Bayley, is to smooth the rather lengthy and tortuous process
of getting new port destinations approved and built in many localities.
Beyond that, it recognizes the need to bring all
stakeholders to the table.
"We're all aware an emerging change is occurring, not
only in the Caribbean but around the world," he said. "We're seeing a
shift in how people view tourism, certainly volume tourism, and we've seen that
there's really an opportunity to think bigger about the future of cruise
tourism as it relates to the development of destinations."
Bayley said Holistica will work with local communities and
governments, travelers, hotel and airline companies.
"It's really about trying to think in a different way
about sustainable development to create win-win outcomes," he said.
Although RCCL and ITM have had dealings for years, Bayley
said Holistica grew out of the experience of their latest joint project, a $275
million harbor and resort redevelopment in Freeport, Bahamas.
There, they agreed to acquire the damaged Grand Lucayan
resort, the largest on Grand Bahama, and transform it into an attraction, while
also upgrading the port facilities in Freeport for more and larger ships. The
Grand Lucayan was crippled by Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
ITM's expertise in land development will make it the lead in
reviving the resort, while RCCL heads up the port improvements.
Bayley said those complementary strengths are one reason why
the venture makes sense for both partners. In addition, as a privately owned
company, ITM brings agility to the table, while publicly traded RCCL brings the
attributes and capital advantages of that structure.
RCCL will keep its own port development group, which is
engaged in multiple improvement projects around the world, including its new
series of Private Day developments, which are exclusive to RCCL guests.
With both Private Day, which is expected to total five
destinations, and Holistica, RCCL seems to be stepping up its port development
activity even as it continues measured growth of its fleet.
ITM Group CEO Mauricio Hamui said the joint venture will
emphasize ecological principles in its construction practices.
"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," he said. "There
is a way to do these projects inclusively, collaboratively and sustainably, and
those are the characteristics this new partnership is meant to embody."
For example, the Grand Lucayan project will include a local
ownership component, job training, community investments and sustainable
The companies said Holistica will also own and operate
destinations in Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; and Kumamoto, Japan.
Other projects are under discussion.
The two firms collaborated on Puerto Costa Maya and in
Roatan, where ITM bought a majority stake in RCCL's cruise port and added a
shopping village with entertainment, a restaurant, bars and excursions.