President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Nicola Madden-Greig described the recently concluded 41st Caribbean Travel Marketplace in Barbados as “exceptional” and a “fantastic show”.
Pre-Marketplace concerns about the two-story layout of the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre (LESC) were alleviated thanks to the hard work and thoughtfulness of her team and Barbados counterparts at the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. and the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association. The CHTA President reported that feedback had been great, and buyers enjoyed the diversity with booths spread across different rooms, giving the event a “different feel” this year.
She reported the Caribbean Travel Forum held at Sandals Royal Barbados, which preceded the official opening of Marketplace, was also well received with strong presentations focusing on travel trends, technology and resiliency. Of special note was the thought-provoking keynote speech delivered by the charismatic Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who energized participants by suggesting the region should take firmer control of its destiny and not rely solely on traditional markets nor business models.
Madden-Greig saw increasing demand for the Caribbean but lamented that airlift would continue to be a challenge for some of the region’s destinations. Working with the intergovernmental Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the CHTA president said they would continue to advocate for sufficient airlift coming into the region. This is important for the Caribbean to promote intra-regional and multi-destination visitation.
One of the CHTA’s many activities was the signing of an MOU with the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis and Management Centre which will focus on joint activations around resilience in the region’s most important economic sector, tourism. The climate crisis is high on the list of issues engaging the trade association along with the impact of sargassum, epidemics, and other threats to the region’s health.
The association recently renewed its MOU with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to promote tourism health safety to enhance the regional health and security capacity. More than 800 delegates attended Marketplace this year.
As for next year’s Caribbean Travel Marketplace slated for Montego Bay, Jamaica, Madden-Greig expects to see “a very different show” per CHTA’s mandate. The association will introduce new elements, but she stated, “with the one goal of ensuring that we maximize business for our members and the Caribbean.”