A spring rite of passage in the Big Apple, Caribbean Week got off to a rousing start in Manhattan in June. Celebrating the sights, sounds, culture and vacation opportunities of the world’s favorite vacay destination, Caribbean Week is the largest regional tourism event in New York and attracts a host of tourism officials, hoteliers, celebrity chefs, fashion designers and those who invest in the region. “ We are seeing healthy levels of arrivals to the region, “ said Hugh Riley, secretary general, Caribbean Tourism Organization ( CTO) , “ 23.8 million visited in 2011 which represents a 4.5 % increase over the year before. “
|Tourism officials meet in Manhattan ( credit: B. Cancellare)|
Organized by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and sponsored by Anguilla, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Global Bridal Weddings, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos, Wall Street Journal and World Travel Market, the weeklong event was headquartered at the Marriott Marquis where delegates listened to workshops, seminars and panel discussions, international media meandered through Marketplace and public events were staged all over the city including at Grand Central station where the wildly popular Vacation Mart and Cultural Fair was a big hit with commuters passing through the iconic train station. “This year there is so much that has taken on a new look and feel that Caribbean Week in New York will not resemble anything we have done before,” said Hugh Riley, secretary general, CTO.
Media Marketplace ( credit: M. Reffes)
|Josette Darguste, director public relations, Ministry Tourism, Haiti|
Christopher Dobson, Business Development Manager, JTB (credit: M . Reffes)
New this year, Rum & Rhythm Benefit was a fundraiser for the CTO Foundation and a meet and greet where tourism ministers and fans of the Caribbean came to mix, mingle and sample rums and spicy snacks while bidding on vacation packages during a live auction.
Tying the Knot
The quintessential niche market, the romance market continues to bring big bucks to the region. Honoring this time tested niche and sponsored by MarryCaribbean.com, a Caribbean Wedding was held in the Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Station.
|Grand Central Station Wedding ( credit: B. Cancellare )|
John Gordon Andre Millard of Montreal and Tricialouise Gurley of Baltimore tied the knot after their winning essay described the Caribbean as their dream honeymoon destination picked up top honors. exuberance and graciousness were punctuated by screams of delight when they received the good news,” said Jacqueline Johnson, “Destination weddings and honeymoons is a market that we have been targeting through our various sales efforts because it is one that we feel is a natural fit with our destination product attributes, “said Ricky Skerritt, minister tourism, St. Kitts. www.stkittstourism.kn/
|John Gordon Andre Millard of Montreal and Tricialouise Gurley of Baltimore tied the knot|
Photo credit: B. Cancellare
With its troubled past, Haiti’s new tourism minister, Stephanie Villedrouin is enthusiastic about plans to attract tourists by the end of the year. “We have already hosted travel agents from the French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique and launched our first four day and five night package which is part of our tourism master plan.”, “she said, “ My dream is to see my destination in the brochures and travel magazines and for people to think of Haiti as a nice country with a beautiful population who are ready to receive them while we address and fix our problems. “
Opening in November, Best Western Premier Petion-Ville will be the first branded US hotel chain to set up shop in Haiti. Owned by a local Haitian couple and managed by Miami-based Aimbridge Hospitality, the 106-room hotel in Port-au-Prince will cater primarily to business travelers and aid workers although hopes are that tourists will eventually discover both the property and the country. “The hotel is twenty minutes from the airport, will offer one bar and one restaurant, doormen with black tops and tails and visible guards at all the doors, “said Michele Olivier, regional VP sales and marketing, Aimbridge “and to make our guests feel as secure as possible, the hotel will also have a twelve day supply of fresh water, two generators and private transfer vehicles from the airport.”
|Opening in November, Best Western Premier Petion-Ville will be the first branded US hotel chain to set up shop in Haiti (credit: Aimbridge )|
The seven-storey hotel will also have a gym and spa as well as meeting and event space. “For us, it is very important to have the franchise hotels in the country , “added Stephanie Villedrouin, tourism minister, Haiti, “we want to attract this type of investment but we have to reassure the tourists that when they arrive at the destination that they will get value for money .” www.aimbridgehospitality.com.
Sassy St. Maarten
Starting December 15, Delta Air Lines will fly direct nonstop to St. Maarten from New York’s JFK airport. “It is an exciting time for St. Maarten to begin this partnership with Delta as it welcomes more travelers from around the world with easy connections through JFK," said May-Ling Chun, director of tourism. Flights will depart JFK at 9:05 am every Saturday and will depart St. Maarten at 3:15 pm also on Saturday.
spectators will be on island from July 13 – 15 when The Sonesta Great Bay Beach
Resort hosts Video X Games ‘, the
Caribbean's top gaming event . The prestigious event brings together the best
video game players who will compete for $8,000 in prize money. The popular
resort near Phillipsburg is offering 70% discount on nightly room rates for those
registered for the event. www.sonesta.com/greatbay,
|May-Ling Chun, interim director of tourism (credit: Tourism Board)|
|Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort (credit: M. Reffes)|
Bottom’s Up in Grenada
After two consecutive years in Barbados, Caribbean Rum & Beer Festival will be held in Grenada from November 2 – 3. ‘We are very pleased to be partnering with the Grenada Board of Tourism, “said Dr. Glyn Williams, festival director, “their marketing expertise will help grow the international attendance at the festival which will benefit Grenada’s tourism industry and the festival exhibitors.”
The festival will be staged at The Grenada Cultural Centre in Grand Anse and will feature tastings, competitions and a raffle to benefit the Queen Elizabeth Home for children. www.rumandbeerfestival.com
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