One of the major assets we have here at Travel Agent is having an office in the heart of Manhattan. And there is no better example than the recent Caribbean Week held in New York. We were making the trip to the event's venue, the Marriott Marquis, just as much as Caribbean tourism officials were making the trip to us.
You don't have to be a reporter to understand the advantage of having just about every notable source from one of your beats in your own backyard.
Plus, I wasn't as overwhelmed attending this year's Caribbean Media Marketplace, where about 50 exhibitors representing properties and destinations throughout the region pack into a small room and make their best efforts to grab the attention of just about every passerby.
During this busy week I attended media lunches, held private
interviews in the conference room of our
Here are some highlights:
A One-on-One With the New Chairman of the CTO
A little face time with the new chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization is never a bad way to start the week, so I arranged to meet Sen. Allen Chastanet privately before a media lunch he hosted at The Modern restaurant.
This was my fifth time speaking with Allen Chastanet (also the prime minister of tourism for St. Lucia) since I first met him at the Caribbean Marketplace in Aruba, and I've learned that he's an easy interview.
By that I mean: Ask one question and he'll come back with three good answers, the kind that don't sound rehearsed or overly positive. In fact, he's real and rather blunt, whether it was his remarks about how the Caribbean "should be worried when everyone has their passports in three to four years, because the world will be their oyster, they can go anywhere," or how the Cricket World Cup was "a disappointment."
But although we in the media love to dwell on the negative
from time to time, I figured I'd give Chastanet his moment to bask in the news
that American Airlines will add nonstop service from
American will fly into
Chastanet says he expects volume to
More St. Maarten Bookings
St. Maarten tourism officials shared some thoughts with me over lunch about how they planned on increasing bookings to the island made by agents. Theo Hey-liger, St. Maarten's commissioner of tourism, and Regina M. LaBega, director of tourism for St. Maarten, told me that at the end of the fourth quarter of this year, the tourism board plans on launching a loyalty program for travel agents, an attempt to boost the number of bookings made by agents.
Heyliger and LaBega told me travel agents make up only 45 percent of all bookings to St. Maarten/St. Martin, a number that dropped significantly several years ago and never fully recovered.
"We think if we create some kind of loyalty program, we can increase business for agents; it's just one idea we have to try to get this number to go up, because we haven't seen an increase in agents' bookings in a long time," says LaBega.
Heyliger and LaBega noted that a culinary campaign, "Bring Their Appetite for Life," was introduced in January to tout the island's Dutch-and French-inspired cuisine and promote both sides of the island as a single destination.
Differentiating Trinidad and Tobago
The Hon. Neil E. Wilson, secretary for Tobago's Division of
Tourism and Transportation, came in to speak with me, expressing frustration with
the notion that
"I see this a lot, whether it's people thinking
"You'd be surprised how many times I've had to tell
people, 'It's not St. Vincent and it's not the Grenadines, it's
He went on to explain that even though
Tobago, on the other hand, is more laid-back, less known and
less developed, according to