The Caribbean’s premier business to business marketing event for the hospitality industry, Caribbean Marketplace is set to bring a major tourism boost to the Bahamas in 2012 as it opens its doors for the 30th time today, showcasing the idyllic island destination to the key decision makers.
Co-hosted by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) the event – which will see hoteliers meet, network, negotiate and conduct business with buyers from around the world - has already smashed last year’s registration figures with a huge 48% rise in bookings and more appointments already set than ever.
According to Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) president Stuart Bowe, the Bahamas, which last hosted the event in 2008, should see the benefits from playing host to the Caribbean Marketplace straight away.
Bowe commented: “The benefits which should accrue for marketplace should be both immediate, with bookings this coming season, as well as long-term, particularly from the destination exposure we will receive from the international press featuring a full range of our offerings.”
Travel and tourism is a crucial source of business for Bahamians, helping to attract large-scale investments such as the 1,000-acre Baha Mar resort complex scheduled to open in Nassau’s Cable Beach community in 2013.
Other recent developments include the renaissance of Nassau/Paradise Island, including the revitalisation of its downtown area; a new airport development; new harbour; new Straw Market; new land, sea and air infrastructural developments; and a new national stadium and associated sporting facilities.
Last year the Bahamas recorded 730,134 visitors between January and June. Visitors for the first quarter were down 4.4%, which was attributed to cold weather in the US in addition to the economic downturn. However figures rebounded for with visitor numbers up for February and April.
In addition, visitor numbers from Latin America to The Bahamas grew by 40 percent between May and July in 2011, compared to the previous year, according to figures from Ministry of Tourism & Aviation.
Copa Airlines’ jet service from Panama City to Nassau is thought to be accountable for 98 percent of the increase. Copa’s new route has delivered passengers not only from Panama but also from several Latin American countries.
According to director-general of tourism, David Johnson: “While we are still uncertain globally about the economic recovery, we are seeing economic signs in the Bahamas, and in many areas we are recovering. Hosting Marketplace gives us a special opportunity to showcase some of the very exciting these we are doing here in the Bahamas.”
According to the CHTA the 2012 edition of the Caribbean Marketplace will continue the successes achieved at last year’s event, which saw the third largest attendance over the past decade, with 1,518 delegates and an increase buyer companies and delegates. There were 11,880 over the two-day event.
This year the event looks set to once again beat its previous record with 12,236 pre-scheduled appointments already booked and 266 supplier companies and 648 delegates representing those supplier companies expected to attend.
Countries including Brazil, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the US will all be represented.
There will also be a large media attendance with 41 international media representing the Caribbean, the US, Latin America and Europe are expected to be at the conference.
Travel industry professionals attending the Caribbean’s premier marketing event, Caribbean Marketplace, will be able to tap into what’s hot and what’s not during their stay in the Bahamas via two simple, state of the art mobile travel guides which have been launched by leading mobile web company, world mobi.
bahamas.city.mobi is a unique directory featuring a collection of carefully selected information on top entertainment and attractions in all 29 of the Bahamas islands, while Nassau.mobi focuses on the idyllic capital city and tourist hotspot, with its blend of international 21st century glamour, old world charm and tropical ambience.
The mobile guides include extensive information ranging from accommodations, to restaurants, shopping, nightlife, and transport. In addition there is emergency information to hand. Additional innovative features include a currency converter and translating tool while web links and contact details are provided for all the featured services.
Commenting on the launch, Kelly Footit, head of development at World Group said: “The Bahamas has historically been a top holiday spot for travellers with so much on offer, from golf to fishing, diving and even flying.
“The mobile guides aim to help visitors (and residents) make the most of their time in the Bahamas with up to date, carefully researched information on local services that can be accessed quickly and easily while users are on the move.”
Designed specifically for the needs of travellers on the go, the guides load efficiently and reduce download costs for the user.