Above: Fort-de-France, Martinique
By Alexander Britell
ST KITTS — Martinique, the French overseas department north of St Lucia and known as the “Isle of Flowers,” is reporting continued growth in its tourism sector.
The island saw a 12.7 percent increase in visitors in the first six months of the year, led by a 154 percent increase in the number of cruise passengers heading to the destination, Jessica Marie of the Martinique Promotion Bureau told a press briefing at the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s State of the Industry Conference in St Kitts.
Martinique reported an 80 percent increase in terms of the number of calls, following a few flat years as Caribbean tourism struggled as a whole during the financial downturn.
The island is welcoming five new ships for the 2012-2013 cruise season, including the Celebrity Summit, Adonia, Saga Sapphire, Voyager and Quest of Adventure, none of which had previously dropped anchor in Martinique.
Tourism Commissioner Karine Roy-Camille has called the five new ships a “wonderful addition” to the winter season.
Earlier this year, Martinique was added as a new homeport for MSC Cruises’ Mistral-class Lirica ship. In April, cruise line Royal Caribbean revealed that it would be returning to Fort-de-France for the first time since 2009.
Martinique received 573,352 total visitors in 2011, which was itself a 4.3 percent increase compared to 2010.
Of those, the vast majority come from Europe, with between 10 and 15 percent of visitors hailing from the United States, she said.
Marie said Martinique is getting closer to finishing the broad renovation, or “renaissance” of its capital, Fort de France.
Next year will also see large-scale celebrations on the island to honour the 100th anniversary of the birth of noted writer, thinker and politician Aimé Césaire.