A second day of Caribbean Marketplace and the message is clear—industry players are upbeat about 2006, looking forward to the Cricket World Cup in 2007 and have enough airlift and rooms to meet this year’s demand.
Back-to-back meetings by industry buyers and sellers is the main activity of the event in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The aim is to meet the expectations of consumers and satisfy the globe’s love affair with the Caribbean.
The event in the newly inaugurated convention centre, has already surpassed last year’s Caribbean Marketplace in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Caribbean Marketplace is also evolving, from a gathering of business executives to an arena for developing industry initiatives and strategies.
With razor-thin budgets, many destinations are now realising the importance of marketing the region as a whole rather than going it alone.
And with the Caribbean competing for the global tourist dollar with other regions—Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific—the consensus view is that islands need a collective effort to attract tourists to the region.
“We share the same dream…to develop dynamic tourism strategies in our region to effectively contribute to our economic growth and financial stability,” says Terestella Gonzalez Denton, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company.
“Although we thrive on individual achievements, we promote and contribute to a united agenda.”
Once tourists have been to the Caribbean, then the islands see an opportunity to differentiate themselves. Repeat visits are prevalent and travelers are keen to explore other islands.
Last year may have been one of the worst for hurricanes on record but recovery is already in progress and it is clear from government responses that islands being able to survive and thrive.
Charles Clifford, Minister of Tourism for the Cayman Islands cites the impact of Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. Hotels are now back on track for the 2006 season and natural disasters have an upside—they give an island a chance to redevelop, reinvent and create new properties that will interest travelers.
The presence of the Cricket World Cup 2007 in the Caribbean looks set to boost tourism and highlight the region’s destinations, with islands investing in sports infrastructure and other satellite events.
In her speech to the Caribbean Marketplace crowd, Gonzalez Denton summed up the attitude that many of the region now have to a combined regional tourism program:
“Dare to dream the possibilities of combining our resources to develop new travel packages for ecotourism, business travel, nature and leisure, meetings and conventions, multi-cultural destinations or special events, and you will see Puerto Rico to be not only a destination but a resource; not a competitor but a collaborator; not a neighbour but a friend; ready to combine our assets for a common good….the development of our people, our land and our common interests.”