Bahamas May Host Marketplace Again In 2013

The Bahamas could play host to the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association's (CHTA) Caribbean Marketplace summit again next year, the organisation's president, Josef Forstmayr told Tribune Business, describing feedback from this year's event as "very positive."

"I thought the Bahamas was an excellent host. I think Atlantis was a great venue; we were all very surprised by the professionalism of the staff, and there is a possibility - and we would certainly look very favourably - if the Bahamas wishes to host again next year," Mr Forstmayr said.

He added: "The feedback we got from everybody was very positive. We have had more buyers there than in the last three years. There was a good vibe on the floor. People are obviously in a good place right now; there's a strong winter season happening as we speak, and that contributed to the good vibe that we had. A lot of new markets were there, aside from the usual North American and European markets."

Mr Forstmayr said the success of this year's conference should go a long way in boosting the Caribbean's position in the world tourism market.

"It is the largest marketing and business conference for tourism-related products in the Caribbean, so one would assume these 15,000 appointments conducted over three days, plus the various networking sessions before and after, will contribute to maintaining our prominent position in world tourism," Mr Forstmayr said.

He added that the Caribbean faces several challenges. Mr Forstmayr said: "Challenges remain mainly as it relates to airlift, reasonably priced airlift, and challenges with the air passenger duty on all travel from the UK. There are issues of transportation, and that concerns us greatly and need to be addressed successfully, but we are certainly seeing the light at the end of the tunnel."

Kerzner International (Bahamas) managing director, George Markantonis, told Tribune Business the resort had seen significant business during the conference.

"There was a great deal of interest. We were very happy with our meetings. We felt very good about them," he said.

Mr Markantonis said it was too early to tell what this could mean for future bookings. "There is no way to quantify it right now. It's not a measurable event. We had a lot of people here, everyone had very good meetings, but it wasn't just us meeting - it was everyone in the Bahamas and Caribbean."

He added: "The event went very smoothly, and we received a lot of accolades from everyone who was here. I think it's a testimony to the destination that some feelers have been put out about the possibility about coming back in 2013. If we have the right space so we'll see."

This year's conference boasted over 12,000 pre-scheduled appointments, with an increase of 500 compared to last year. The Caribbean Marketplace conference is the premier marketing event of the Caribbean hospitality industry, matching buyers and suppliers through a computerised program of appointments.

Natario McKenzie
The Tribune
Published: January 30, 2012