Saturday, January 28, 2012

Selling the Caribbean : Marketplace 2012

Hosted by The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), Islands Of The Bahamas, MasterCard and Virgin Holidays, Marketplace 2012 was held at the Atlantis on Paradise Island from January 22 to 24.  Renamed’ Caribbean Travel Marketplace’ and marking its 30th anniversary this year, the annual trade show is the largest marketing event in the region where suppliers meet, greet,  network and  negotiate with buyers from around the world. 

Atlantis Resort in Paradise Island (credit: M. Reffes) 
 For the first time since 2008, the show attracted 276 supplier companies, 695 supplier delegates, 140 buyer companies and 336 buyer delegates from eighteen countries including Russia and Japan.  The total of 1,190 delegates was a slight dip from the 1,518 who attended last year in Montego Bay. 

Andre Rojer, marketing manager, Curacao Tourist Board doing business on the floor (credit: M. Reffes) 
“We begin 2012 with the hope that this year will mark a distinct point of recovery and return to sustained growth for tourism in our region,” said Hubert Ingraham, prime minister, Bahamas addressing delegates during the gala opening ceremony that featured high-spirited performances of The Royal Bahamas Police Force Band.
Credit: B. Cancellare 

Credit: M. Reffes 
 Noting Marketplace is the region’s most important convention, Josef Forstmayr, president, CHTA told delegates “the Caribbean remains the most tourism-dependent region in the world and the substantial volume of transactions generated by the 15,000 appointments will bolster the Caribbean nations’ economies directly resulting in a better standard of living for our citizens. “  Adding 2010 was a banner year for tourism with 23.1 million visitors to the region, Forstmayr said 2011 numbers are also looking good, “the forecast is for a four-percent growth for a record of 24 million arrivals.” Referring to the new “Tourism is Key” advocacy campaign, Forstmayr added, “There has to be a strong consensus of our leaders and the public so that tourism will receive the full support it needs as the Caribbean’s most vital export industry. “
Hubert Ingraham, prime minister, Bahamas and  
Josef Forstmayr, president, CHTA (credit: B. Cancellare )

Bahamas Buzz
Visitor numbers for 2011 show an impressive spike of 6.3% or 5.6 million visitors. “Most of these were cruise arrivals,” noted Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, minister of tourism, “air arrivals were down due to bad weather last January in the US and a hurricane that impacted the island in August.”  A surge in November and December boosted year-end numbers with Nassau showing a 7.1% hike and Grand Bahama Island recording a notable spike of 15.9% over last year. 

Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, minister tourism, Bahamas ( credit: M. Reffes)
Set to debut in March, a new marketing initiative by the Ministry of Tourism will focus on the sixteen island groups in order to draw visitors beyond Nassau and Paradise Island. “We have divided the islands into separate groups, all represented by their own logos,” said Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, tourism minister, “We want the islands to become a multiple-destination experience within one destination.”

Abaco Beach ( credit: Bahamas Tourism )

Following fires that destroyed the building, a brand new $12 million Straw Market is open on Bay Street in Nassau.  An iconic symbol of Nassau, the new venue has extensive fire safety measures including a sprinkler system with on-site water storage and fire hoses.
New airlift from Nassau, Delta will fly nonstop service from LaGuardia in March while JetBlue announced direct flights from White Plains, a suburb of New York City.


MLT Vacations grew business in the Caribbean by over 46% percent in 2011. To highlight this growth, the one-stop-shopping package provider has launched a Caribbean sale offering up to 10,000 bonus miles per person and reduced rates at select resorts through their Delta Vacations and United Vacations brands.  The sale is open for bookings through Feb. 18 and valid for travel from April 1 – Sept. 30.

 Additional flights via Delta from New York (JFK) include service to San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and from New York (LGA) to Nassau.

Sound Bites from the Floor
December was our best month ever in terms of room revenues in Nassau and Paradise Island. “   Frank Comito, VP, Bahamas Hotel Association.

Wyndham Nassau ( credit: M. Reffes) 
“Nothing stimulates tourism like low cost, high quality and frequent air service. The Bahamas has fifty government owned and operated regional airports and fifteen international airports. ” Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, minister of tourism, Bahamas

“Jamaica is already synonymous with entertainment; however, we are making a concerted effort now to market Brand Jamaica with a focus on our music. After all, everyone in the world knows Bob Marley,” Wykeham McNeill, newly elected minister of tourism and entertainment, Jamaica.

Marley Museum Kingston ( credit: M. Reffes) 
“We are now putting an emphasis on fashion after one of our locals, Ayoung-Chee Anya, won the last "Project Runway" television competition. The plan is to have her help promote tourism to the destination.” Sandra Perkins, CEO, Tourism Development Company of Trinidad & Tobago.
Sandra Perkins, CEO, Tourism Dev. Co. T & T and this writer (credit:  Y. Montes)
“In September, we will launch 721 as the new area code for Dutch St. Maarten which will be based on the North American system. This will make it easier for our American guests to call the island. ” May-Ling Chung, director tourism, St. Maarten Tourist Bureau.

May-Ling Chung, director tourism, St. Maarten  Tourist Bureau (credit: SMTB)
“If St. Maarten is a good place to live then it must be an even better place to visit.” Emil Lee, president, St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association.

Great Bay Beach ( credit: M. Reffes)
“I brought in a pizza chef from Italy to bake pies at our brand new Bella Napoli Pizzeria which is earning a reputation as the best pizzeria on the island. “  Armando Pizzuti, general manager, Sonesta Maho, St. Maarten.

Sonesta Maho ( credit: M. Reffes) 
“Our message for this year is that Anguilla is affordable for all visitors not just the rich and famous.”  Marie Walker, director tourism, North America, Anguilla Tourist Board.

Marie Walker , director tourism, NA, Anguilla Tourist Board ( credit: M. Reffes) 

 “We are one of the most popular resorts for spring weddings with confirmations already for April. One couple has booked all our villas for what we know will be one spectacular celebration. “ David Lyon, director of sales,  CuisinArt Golf Resort, Anguilla

Villas at CuisinArt ( credit: M. Reffes ) 
Due to the relatively mild winter in the northeast, we are offering discounts for bookings through April 8.  This is the first winter we have offered these kinds of incentives but we feel it necessary in order to ensure high occupancies through the high season.”  Paul Robinson, director sales, The Reef, Grand Cayman.

Sandra Spannheimer, reservations manager & Paul  Robinson , director sales , The Reef Grand Cayman ( credit: M. Reffes) 
We are re-launching our vacation website, , with a significant financial commitment to redesign the site which debuts in August.” Josef Forstmayr, President, CHTA

Mark Your Calendar
April 17 - 19 : Organized by the Dominican Association of Hotels & Restaurants ((ASONAHORES) in association with the Dominican Ministry of Tourism (MITUR),Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (DATE)  will take place at the  Barcel√≥ Bavaro Palace Deluxe in Punta Cana.

Barcelo Bavaro Palace Deluxe Punta Cana ( credit: Barcelo Resorts)

April 24 – 26: CHTA Investment Conference, San Juan, Puerto Rico
May 16-18:   St. Maarten Annual Regional Trade Show (SMART) Radisson Blu
June 16:  CHTA celebrates its 50th Anniversary with a Golden Jubilee Gala, Montego Bay.
June 20 – 25:  CHTA’s Taste of the Caribbean, Miami.
October:  CHTA Small Hotels Conference, Venue TBA
For more information:

credit: M. Reffes

Royal Bahamas Police Force Band ( credit: M. Reffes) 

Credit: M. Reffes

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1 comment:

  1. Woah! What a great place to relax. I think I should visit It when I'm off to work, and I was planning on having ATV tour on Bryce Canyon.