Royal Caribbean’s new JV, Holistica, to create inclusive model for destination development

Holistica's first project is a US$275 million development in Freeport, The Bahamas

After a recent analysis threw large cruise liners back into the hot seat for their startling environmental impact, Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) is eager to show it has sustainability in its sights by forming a joint venture company advocating “an inclusive model for destination development”.

The Miami-based cruise company has teamed up with ITM Group, a privately-held Mexican company based in Cancun with more than 30 years’ experience developing tourism and entertainment infrastructure, to form a new destination company named Holistica.

Holistica’s first project is a US$275 million development in Freeport, The Bahamas (pictured)

Holistica will be a 50-50 partnership between both companies. The partners have commenced a search for a CEO for the company, which will be headquartered in Miami.

According to RCL, Holistica will create “an inclusive model for destination development that works holistically to meet the needs of coastal communities, local governments, and land, sea, and air travellers”.

“The continuing growth and rising popularity of cruise vacations make 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 Michael Bayley, president and CEO of RCL.

This month, an European environmental group released its own findings showing that cruise liners run by Carnival Corporation emitted nearly 10 times more sulphur oxide pollution around European coasts than all of the continent’s 260 million cars in 2017. In the same month, the company agreed to pay a criminal penalty of US$20 million for environmental violations.

Mauricio Hamui, ITM Group’s CEO, said a well managed destination can bring benefits while “creating the least possible disruption to the human and natural environment”.

He added that there ware ways to do tourism projects “inclusively, collaboratively and sustainability”.

RCL’s Bayley said: “We have spent five decades learning what works and what doesn’t, and we know the potential of strategic development to deliver extraordinary guest experiences and meet the needs of local communities.”

Holistica’s first project is a US$275 million development in Freeport, The Bahamas, currently under review by the Bahamian government. Centred on the regeneration of the Grand Lucayan resort, the project includes ambitious plans for local ownership, employment, job training, community investment and sustainable construction practices.

In addition to the Freeport project, the companies said the new venture will own and operate destinations in Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; and Kumamoto, Japan.

These projects, among others, is expected to serve eight million visitors annually, and be accessible to all travelers, including land and air vacationers and guests of multiple cruise lines.

Holistica is also engaged in discussions regarding multiple existing and proposed destinations around the world.

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