Caribbean Marketplace
 focus of tourism industry

Cayman will be represented by public and private sector tourism professionals at the Caribbean Marketplace conference 2011.

The event at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Jamaica between 16 and 18 January brings together suppliers, companies, tourist boards and media. Various representatives of Caymanian hotels, tourism businesses and the Department of Tourism are scheduled to attend.

At the event, hotels, attractions, restaurants, management companies and governments will discuss issues facing the tourism industry of the Caribbean. It gives the industry the opportunity to meet with its clients and decision-makers face to face. Some 1,200 delegates will represent more than 500 travel and industry-related companies.

Chinese loan

It will mark the first time that the new Montego Bay Convention Centre will be used for a major event. The 84,000-square-foot facility will have a capacity of 6,000 and 52,000 square foot of exhibition space when it is fully completed at the end of April. Inspections are under way to ensure that the incomplete building fulfils fire, safety and health requirements in its current state of 75 per cent completion. It was built following the agreement of a concessionary loan of US$45.4 million between the Jamaican government and the export/import bank of China in June 2007.

The last time Jamaica hosted the conference was in 2005, said Jamaica’s director of tourism, John Lynch. He told reporters that there would be entertainment at the opening and closing nights including Jolly Boys and Byron Lee’s Dragonaires.

“We anticipate a stellar performance from a number of top entertainers across the island who will showcase the best of Jamaican entertainment during Caribbean Marketplace 2011.

“Jamaica’s hosting of the event in 2005 was hailed as the best ever, and we are excited to continue the tradition and make this year the best yet,” he said.

Flagship event

Caribbean Marketplace is the flagship event of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourist Association. During the 2010 event, which was held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the industry called for a unified approach to tackle the effects of the global economic crisis.

“One of the things we learnt from the downturn is that we have to work as a region. We can no longer afford to see ourselves as a set of island nations. The competition in a downturned economy is not [each other] but the rest of the world,” said Enrique de Marchena, president of the hotel association.

A region-wide marketing fund was once again proposed, but at the time there was no decision on how such a fund would be generated. Other tourism elements discussed included uniform ticket taxes, a cruise commission across the region, and issues that hotels had reported across the Caribbean regarding lower average daily rates and revenue per available room.

The Caribbean Tourism Organisation is expected to update on these aspects and the continuing efforts to recover from the economic downturn at the 2011 event. Cuba is also pegged as being of great interest following its strong performance on a regional tourism level in 2009 and 2010.

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Mr. Lynch
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