COLONIA, Uruguay – Hosting the 5th Regional Conference of Cruise and Nautical Tourism has given Uruguay the opportunity to showcase the virtues of its ports, Deputy Tourism Minister Benjamin Liberoff told EFE on Friday.
The main challenge for the South American country in its efforts to boost cruise tourism is “to improve conditions for passengers at the Montevideo port as a passenger hub,” he said in Colonia del Sacramento.
“Montevideo could become a connection, a cruise ship embarkation point for passengers from southern Brazil, from interior Argentina, from Asuncion (Paraguay), from Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia), and even from some countries with daily flights to Uruguay such as Peru and Colombia,” Liberoff said.
The conference concluded Friday with Uruguayan and foreign officials in attendance and with the participation of major cruise operators including Costa Cruceros, MSC Cruceros and Royal Caribbean.
“Having reached a 5th conference shows continuity,” Liberoff said. “Continuity for a subject which is important for our countries and which depends on what we do, not on someone coming from outside to organize it.”
Dario Rustico, the Costa Cruceros director for South America, told EFE that such meetings “are always important because they help to become aware of opportunities for developing the industry in the region.”
Major operational obstacles in South America are “a lack of infrastructure, and high fees relative to other regions,” Rustico said.
Even so, he said, the situation in South America is “positive, since the region is coming out of a transition period, and a number of countries are working less on their own and more as part of a circuit.”
“The next 10 years will be very positive for this industry in South America, if we continue working on that path,” Rustico said.