GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND—Travel Agent was on site for the 29th Caribbean Tourism Conference (CTC-29) October 22–25 at the Westin and Sheraton Grand Bahama Island Our Lucaya Resort in The Bahamas to gather news about the region.
The theme of this year's conference was "Cooperation, Innovation, Rejuvenation: Creating a Brand New Caribbean." It attracted 748 delegates, including 120 travel agents.
Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) officials were elected during the conference. Philip J. Pierre, St. Lucia's minister of tourism, was elected chairman at the 46th meeting of the CTO Board of Directors.
Kerry J. Cannon, Jr., group publisher of Travel Agent,
was elected to the CTO Board of Directors. "We have had a long and
mutually beneficial relationship with CTO," Cannon says. "Travel
agents play such a major role in the selling of
Passport Initiative Takes Center Stage
Secretary General of the CTO Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace spoke on the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, commonly referred to as the passport issue.
A number of air carriers, including American Airlines and
Alaska Airlines, have reversed their stance on the passport initiative. They
are now supporting
Vanderpool-Wallace is calling for a level playing field,
since cruise and land visitors do not need a passport until June 2009, while
visitors by air need to show a passport upon their return to the
Following Tuesday night's press conference, Vanderpool-Wallace told Travel Agent, "There is no question that the decision (to give the cruise industry an extension) absolutely created a better situation for our attempts to get air travelers an extension." He proclaims the CTO can handle the matter administratively: "We don't have to wait until congress reconvenes in order to get this extension."
Although at first reluctant to speak about the passport issue, Richard "Ricky" Skerritt, St. Kitts' tourism minister of state, told Travel Agent last week, "The Caribbean knew that there was a risk, we were aware that it was inevitable, we may have been led into a false sense of complacency."
Edison Briesen, Aruba's minister of tourism and
transportation, explained that only 23 percent of
Kelli Clarke, honeymoon specialist for Alexandria, VA-based
K C Travel Unlimited, profited from CTC-29, citing opportunities for networking
with tourist boards and being given access to CTO travel specials that include
commissionable air and land components. Given the looming realities of the
passport requirements, the first question Clarke asks a potential client is,
"Do you have a passport?" If the answer is no, she provides them with
information on where to apply, get photos and expedite the process if
necessary. "I've already had clients come in and say, 'Where can I go
without a passport?'" She says the USVI and Puerto Rico are getting this
Expect tourism ministries to increase efforts to market the