Royal Caribbean is raising its stakes in port development, aiming to create a lighter footprint on the communities it visits.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Mexico’s ITM Group announced Monday that they’ll be teaming up as 50-50 owners on a new destination company, Holistica. Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, said the company is currently in conversations “all over the world” in an attempt to add new destinations to the global cruise map.
The ports will be available to travelers as a whole and not limited to RCL passengers, he said.
Bayley said Holistica will collaborate with local communities, governments, tourists and tourism businesses so stakeholders can benefit “in an ongoing way” and create positive, sustainable destination experiences for guests and the places they visit. Cruise lines and other tourism suppliers have come under increasing fire for “overtourism” in ports including Venice, Italy, and Dubrovnik, Croatia, where hordes of tourists have jammed streets and diminished the experience for locals and visitors. Some ecologically sensitive places have also suffered.
“The continuing growth and rising popularity of cruise vacations makes it clear that the sustainable development of coastal destinations, including the thoughtful evolution of existing ones, is in the travel industry’s best interest,” said Bayley via a statement.
Holistica’s first project is in the Bahamas. In March, Royal Caribbean and ITM signed a deal to purchase the Grand Lucayan Resort and its cruise port, Freeport. Bayley said the undertaking, a “total regeneration of Grand Bahama as a destination,” will potentially cost $275 million. Approval by the Bahamian government is pending. Grand Bahama officials have said that the project could bring an additional 2 million passengers to the island annually, according to Travel Weekly.
The project will include a training academy for locals.
Holistica will also own and operate ports in Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatán, Honduras; and Kumamoto, Japan. Holistica is also engaged in discussions regarding multiple existing and proposed destinations around the world.
The joint venture is seeking a CEO to launch the new venture.