EXCLUSIVE: ITB and What it Means to the Caribbean
By Ben Kilbey
The Caribbean is set for a bumper year in 2005. As President of the Caribbean Hotel Association, Berthia Parle said; “This is the Caribbean’s day - we must take full of advantage of this. The winds of change are blowing in our direction.” In this exclusive feature some of the leading lights in the Caribbean tourism industry share their opinions on the importance of ITB 2005 and an outlook for the industry in 2005.Hudson Husbands - Chairman of the Barbados Tourism Authority:
“ITB 2005 will present a welcomed opportunity to see face to face our partners in the vital travel and tourism business. These opportunities can never be too many. The industry is changing daily and there are always new considerations on the table. For Caribbean destinations, we see as a top priority, crystallising opportunities to expand our business out of Europe but the main challenge continues to be long haul direct air services to facilitate potential holiday-makers at an affordable price.
There are always new airline projects to develop, new alliances and collaborations not only with airlines but also charter operators, consolidators and tour operators, as well as among collaborating destinations.”
Peter Hilary Modeste - Director of Tourism St. Lucia:
“St. Lucia Tourist Board is in the process of developing new plans to revamp the German Tourism market for St. Lucia, and ITB is an opportunity to hold discussions with the German Tour Operators, and other interested Tourism players, on this issue.”
Honourable Howard Chin Lee, Minister of Tourism, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago:
“ITB has proven to be an excellent forum for showcasing the tourism product of Trinidad and Tobago. As the leading marketplace for tourism, it has opened up new and exciting marketing and investment opportunities. Indeed, it was at ITB 2004 that we were successful in securing additional airlift to Tobago via Lauda Airlines of Austria which now provides a weekly service from Vienna. ITB offers invaluable networking opportunities. It is a great way to do business”
Kedrick Malone - BVI Director of Tourism:
“The German market is one of the key markets for the BVI. About 60% of the tourists coming from Germany, Switzerland and Austria are sailors. But we also work on encouraging the tourists to spend their holidays in the small properties, our “Intimate Hideaways.
As a new source market we will be targeting the Eastern European market. ITB is the biggest tourism trade show worldwide. The BVI have been represented here for more than 15 years with our own booth. This year we will not only have Miss BVI there but also the pleasure of welcoming Jean-Michel Cousteau to represent the marine world of the BVI.”
Amelia Vanterpool-Kubisch - Director of Tourism Anguilla:
“ITB 2005 has our utmost attention. Thanks to the steady growth in arrivals from the Central European market, and here mainly from Germany and Italy we are expecting a good show with a lot of talks. For the first time ever Anguilla is teaming up in a joint stand with its sister islands St.Martin/St.Maarten, Saba and St.Eustatius in order to facilitate the travel decisions for our partners in the trade.”
James Hepple - Director of Tourism Curacao:
“ITB is extremely useful to the Curacao Tourist Board because it is one of the leading shows in Europe where we can get together with our major suppliers and discuss future business prospects. Our hotels like it for the same reason. With so much turmoil in the world today it is vital to keep in touch with our customers and ITB allows us to do this very effectively.
2005 is looking very good for Curacao. We began the year positively and forward bookings look very strong. We are seeing more interest from Europe out side of our traditional market of Holland. The German dive industry is very supportive and we are seeing good interest from Belgium, the UK and Scandinavia as they look for new and different destinations.”
Pamela Richards - Commissioner of Tourism USVI:
“Like many of our Caribbean nations, the United States Virgin Islands has seen an increase in our 2004 tourism numbers (10 percent). As a region, the Caribbean posted a growth of seven percent in tourism figures for 2004.
Our plans to increase our collaborative promotions will ensure that regional numbers continue to strengthen in 2005. International conferences and trade shows, such as ITB, are critical for showcasing the Caribbean as an attractive destination for tourists around the world.”
Paul Pennicook - Director of Tourism Jamaica:
“The Jamaica Tourist Board is planning to meet UK tour operators and agents over the coming months, updating them on the latest developments in Jamaica. This activity will be supported by the launch of a web-based training tool. As part of the Jamaica Tourist Board’s 50th anniversary celebrations, commencing in April 2005, it will also launch a travel trade incentive aimed at improving knowledge and awareness of Jamaica and its diverse tourism product.
The Jamaica Tourist Board will also launch a CD-ROM aimed at the meetings, incentive and conference market (MICE) in April, which will carry information on what the island has to offer planners and buyers. For further information on Jamaica and training please visit: www.visitjamaica.com.”
Mr. Warren Solomon, Vice President, Tourism, the Tourism and Industrial Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (TIDCO):
“Trinidad & Tobago has been attending ITB for the last 10 years, solidifying its presence in the German and German-speaking European market. It has used the event to create destination awareness and foster stronger relationships with the travel trade and media. Given the fact that ITB is bar none, the largest and most recognised travel trade show in Europe, Trinidad and Tobago’s participation in ITB guarantees that awareness of our differentiated, niche-oriented tourism product reaches all the relevant markets in Europe.
“Through our representation at ITB, the European travel market has and will continue to gain insight into our festivals and events, dive attractions, eco-tourism, culture and cuisine - all of which put a twist on the traditional sun, sand and sea product offered by our regional counterparts. From January to September, 2004, 5,592 German nationals visited our shores. Last year’s figure shows an increase in arrivals from the German market from the corresponding period of the previous year which tallied 5,412. I can certainly claim that our presence at ITB can be linked to this increase in arrivals.”
Enthusiasm for the Caribbean
Enthusiasm for the Caribbean tourism product is in over abundance from those in the know. 2005 looks to be a year positive year, bearing many fruits for the region, with the European market being a prime objective for islands and their tourism models. As ever Caribbean Travel News will be there every step of the way, reporting on every facet of the Caribbean tourism sector.
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