CHTA Marketplace 2011 preview: Josef Forstmayr, President, CHTA

CHTA Marketplace 2011 preview: Josef Forstmayr, President, CHTA

A host of improvements have taken place in Jamaica since CHTA Marketplace was last hosted on the island in 2005. The latest is the highly-anticipated Montego Bay Convention Centre, which will be unveiled at CHTA Marketplace 2011 this weekend. BTN talks to Josef Forstmayr, President of the CHTA, as well as Managing Director of Round Hill Hotel and Villas.

BTN: What was the strategy behind Caribbean Marketplace 2011 being hosted in Jamaica?
JF: Jamaica was very eager to invite the Caribbean back to Montego Bay to showcase the latest improvements in our tourism and transportation infrastructure. Since the last time that CHTA Marketplace was hosted at the Half Moon Club in 2005, Montego Bay has a new international airport, new highways, beautifully landscaped, new and added attractions as well as several new resort hotels. Naturally, to make the host bid possible, we needed a new convention centre. We are so proud to be able to unveil this brand new, first-class facility for CHTA Marketplace 2011 on 16 January 2011.

(The Montego Bay Convention Centre gives Jamaica an excellent opportunity to tap into the estimated $280 billion worldwide conventions and exhibitions market)

BTN: How do you think the Montego Bay Convention Centre will help Jamaica as well as the Caribbean?
JF: The new Montego Bay Convention Centre is beautiful! It will give Jamaica and the English speaking Caribbean the opportunity to attract medium size groups and conventions. I have no fear that this convention centre will help to position Jamaica as a hub for these events in the western Caribbean.

(The new Montego Bay Convention Centre was officially opened by Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding last week - pictured here with Hon Edmund Bartlett, Minister for Tourism - whilst the first scheduled event will be CHTA Marketplace starting this Sunday)

BTN: How is your Tourism in Key campaign progressing?
JF: Since its inception during the CARICOM heads of government conference in early July 2010, the CHTA’s “Tourism is Key” campaign has been a huge success. Since then, similar efforts were launched in Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire, in Barbados, St. Lucia, Anguilla and in Trinidad and Tobago. The “Tourism is Key” campaign’s message which highlights the importance of our industry to our everyday lives has been well heard by our political leadership as well as the general public in the various countries. We continue to emphasize the need for more regional integration, better regional airlift and less taxation. A World Tourism Organization study shows that 7 out of 10 countries in the world that depend mostly on tourism are in the Caribbean. This fact must inform all our decisions if and when national government policies for economic development are crafted.

(Round Hill, voted ” World’s Leading Villa” at 2010 World Travel Awards)

BTN: How do you envisage 2011 shaping up for Caribbean travel and tourism?
JF: As always, we are cautiously optimistic when it comes to forecasting business. Since the international financial crises peaked in 2009, we have seen a steady climb back of the business for the entire region. I do not believe that we will see a return to pre crisis levels as yet in 2011. Maybe in 2012.

BTN: Which areas of the industry present the best opportunity for growth?
JF: The greatest opportunity for growth continues to be North America and Canada for the western Caribbean due to the excellent air lift. Naturally, South America presents the most exciting opportunities for future development. In order to profit from strong economic growth in South America, we do need to establish better direct flights. I congratulate Barbados by opening up Brazil with a direct flight. I hope that soon we will see similar programmes all across the region. There are also wonderful opportunities for all of us within the Caribbean. Better and cheaper airlift, less visa regulation and easier access to our various countries could result in a very healthy and vibrant exchange of visitors from within the region.

(Sport Tourism has played a pivotal role in Jamaica’s success)

What are you hoping to achieve at this year’s Caribbean Marketplace?
JF: We have already exceeded previous records in attendance from both our supplier companies as well as our buyers. This shows that the Caribbean is ready to do business and that the world is here to trade with us. Needless to say, Montego Bay and Jamaica have shown once again to be a true drawing card in our efforts to strengthen this partnership. I am truly grateful to the Jamaican government as well as the Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association to make this CHTA Marketplace 2011 possible.

To coincide with the opening of Montego Bay Convention Centre, City Mobi has launched its new mobile guide to all the best entertainment and activities to do in the area. MontegoBay.Mobi, which is the latest in this illustrious line up of mobile guides, with over 800 cities in 200 countries listed.

Caribbean Marketplace, 16-18 January 2011, Montego Bay Convention Centre, Montego Bay, Jamaica