The Caribbean has more to offer than any place in the world, and tourism officials ought to strengthen their collective approach to regional marketing, says a senior executive at American Airlines (AA). “We feel it`s imperative for the region to work together,” said Bob Troni, AA`s Managing Director of International Sales and Marketing, at a recent Caribbean tourism conference.
Troni argued that there`s much diversity and wealth of opportunity in the region, but that a continued pooling of resources will be necessary to stay ahead of the competition. “Asia is going to be doing it very well ... there will be no differentiation between China, Japan, Vietnam and Korea,” said Troni, explaining that these nations will spare no effort to recapture lost business from the SARS epidemic. Same thing with Europe, he said, as the European Union strengthens cooperation among member nations. “We are not saying to not promote yourself, but to promote yourself first as a region, and then within that region, look at what we have to offer… there is more to offer in the Caribbean as a region than anywhere else in the world,” said Troni.
The airline executive, who has been an active player in the recent launch of the Caribbean`s advertising campaign, said he was pleased with the progress of the initiative, but wants every piece of material coming out of the region to be stamped with the GoCaribbean theme. “The GoCaribbean.com website should be the entry point for everyone. Once they come in the door that represents the whole region, then the unique product of each country emerges, providing the consumer with numerous choices,” he explained.
Troni is upbeat about the Caribbean and indicated that his airline will sharpen its focus on the region this winter. “We`re going to beef up the Caribbean this winter big time,” he said, to take advantage of some pent up demand in the United States. “I do not see us adding new cities, but I see us adding more capacity,” giving as an example the addition of more US flights that feed the Caribbean via the Miami hub.
American Airlines has been a strong supporter of the Caribbean and a decade ago contributed one million US dollars to launch the region`s advertising campaign. This summer, Troni was recognised as the Caribbean Hotel Association`s (CHA) “Allied Member of the Year” for his great generosity and dedication to the region and for working towards the success of CHA and its members. “Bob has been working with and for the Caribbean for more than 30 years,” said Alec Sanguinetti, CHA`s Director General and CEO. “His efforts have reached a zenith in the extraordinary role he has had with the Caribbean Hotel Association Charitable Trust (CHACT),” he added.
The CHACT is a successful public/private sector alliance, uniting major hotel chains, airlines and credit card companies with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, CARICOM (Caribbean Community) and non-CARICOM nations. Last fall, CHACT launched a multi-million dollar campaign to market and promote the region as a single destination.
CARICOM heads of government have reiterated the importance of the tourism sector to the Caribbean economy and they recently reaffirmed the need to establish a Sustainable Tourism Development Fund to facilitate the implementation of a strategic plan for tourism, and supported the effort to mobilise the resources for the Fund.
www.gocaribbean.com allows the region to play a full role in the entire distribution channel of Caribbean holidays, rather than just focusing on the delivery of a product. Consumers and travel agents alike can now book airlines, hotels and other Caribbean properties at bulk or heavily discounted rates.
Related Stories On Caribbean Weekly