Biggest ever Caribbean Marketplace opens

With 1,400 delegates, 400 booths and over 16,000 scheduled appointments, this year’s Caribbean Marketplace is being heralded as the biggest ever.

The Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Hubert Ingraham (pictured below) opened
the buyer-seller meeting at the Atlantis Resort, Nassau, saying that
“hospitality is the major engine of the Bahamas and regional economy and
we have optimism for [tourism] in 2008.”

Ministers of tourism from Aruba, the Bahamas, St Kitts, Jamaica, St Lucia
and the Cayman Islands attended the opening ceremony of this year’s
Caribbean Marketplace. An event that brings buyers and suppliers together
to discuss future travel packages for the Caribbean.

“A lot has changed since we hosted Caribbean Marketplace
back in 2000,” explained Neko Grant, minister of tourism for the Bahamas.
He was referring to the development of tourism infrastructure in the
islands, including the plans for the Cable Beach strip and the expansion
of the airport.

One of the major concerns raised by speakers at the opening of the event
was the rising price of oil; the sub-prime housing and crunch in the
United States; global warming; and the development of the Pacific and the
Middle East as holiday destinations—all of which are likely to have an
impact on Caribbean tourism.


These concerns were highlighted by Ingraham: “This year’s Marketplace is
at an important juncture and crossroads for the region’s tourism

Each year wholesalers, incentive buyers, meeting planners,
group buyers and dive shop owners from the USA, Canada, Caribbean, Latin
America, Asia-Pacific, Africa, and Europe meet up with national hotel
associations representing guesthouses, villas, time-share, all-inclusive
and chain hotels from the Caribbean region.

Each year millions of dollars worth of business is done at Caribbean
Marketplace and accounts for over a million tourists to the region.

The opening ceremony was accompanied by a blistering performance both from
the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band and the colourful National Youth

Since Caribbean Marketplace was last in the Bahamas, Paradise Island alone
has almost doubled with the addition of new facilities including the
recently opened Cove and Reef condo resorts.

Rennovation is now occuring at the island’s main Lyndel Pindling
International Airport, with three phases of development expected to be
completed by 2012.

The Bahamas Cable Beach strip development is currently undergoing
transformation under the direction of Baha Mar Resort to revitalise and
upgrade the resort.

The government has also given the green light to the billion dollar Albany
Project at South Ocean. It looks set to transform the south west area of
New Providence.

On Grand Bahama Island a number of projects are currently underway
including the Ginn Company’s development on the western end of the island.