MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica - Travel Agent was on hand Monday morning for the opening press conference of the 2014 Caribbean Travel Marketplace in which Richard J. Doumeng, president of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, praised agents.
"Travel agents are still a strong, vibrant part of the equation," Doumeng says. "What happens with agents is the same as any industry. The ones who stay ahead of the curve and use the tools they have in front of them have survived. The workplace has changed but the concept is still alive and well. When it comes to leisure travel and vacations, thats where a travel agent will always have longevity."
The show has attracted more than 1,200 delegates, which is on pace with last year's event, according to Caribbean tourism representatives. The event will run through January 14. In fact, the event has already attracted roughly 80 international buyer companies from 15 countries and more than 200 supplier companies from nearly 30 countries for a total of roughly 662 combined delegates pre-registered.
The trade show matches suppliers, such as hotels, restaurants and tourist boards, with buyers, tour operators and wholesalers in pre-scheduled business appointments, where parties discuss existing contracts and develop packages and contracts for future business. This will be Jamaica's fourth time hosting this prestigious event.
Since Jamaica last hosted the trade show in 2011, the island has seen new investment and some transition in the hotel sector.
"What we should be striving to do is put a percentage of our financial resources together to get people to come to our part of the world," says Doumeng. "Once they get to our part of our world, then we can be competitors, then we can worry about which islands they are going to. But we are not competing with each other anymore. It's long gone. We are competing with the rest of the world."
Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for ongoing updates from our coverage of the show.