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Brazilian investors buy Miami real estate. Haitian earthquake survivors attend South Florida schools. It's clear what happens in Latin America and the Caribbean has a profound effect on South Florida.WLRN’s coverage of the region is headed by Americas editor Tim Padgett, a 23-year veteran of TIME and Newsweek magazines.He joins a team of reporters and editors at the Miami Herald, El Nuevo Herald and NPR to cover a region whose cultural wealth, environmental complexity, vast agricultural output and massive oil reserves offer no shortage of important and fascinating stories to tell.

The Caribbean Wants Cruise Passengers To Spend More On Islands Instead of Boats

Tim Padgett

Cruise Shipping Miami – the cruise industry’s premier convention – is taking place this week on Miami Beach. One big and lingering topic is how our Caribbean neighbors can leverage more revenue from all those ships stopping at their ports of call.

Some 125 countries are represented at the Miami Beach Convention Center for Cruise Shipping Miami. But those with the most at stake may be the island nations of the Caribbean.

The Caribbean is the leading destination for the cruise industry, which brings the region $2 billion each year. But cash-strapped Caribbean governments say they need to capture more cruise passenger spending by offering more than just white-sand beaches.

One locale having some success is the U.S. Virgin Islands, which in recent years has prioritized showing cruise tourists more of the island's natural assets as well as its local culture and cuisine, says Kenneth Mapp, the USVI's new governor.

“In the cruise industry, their business model appears to be one of getting the passengers to spend as much as they can onboard," says Mapp. "The question is, What do we do with the passenger while they’re on the island? How you can expose that passenger to elements that would attract them to return becomes the key.”

Mapp says another key is reducing the Caribbean’s chronic violent crime, including some of the world’s highest homicide rates.

“This new administration is really driving the professionalism of policing in the territory," says Mapp, himself a former New York City police officer.