PATAGONIA, Chile – Travel Agent attended the opening press conference for TravelMart Latin America 2009 Thursday and we learned that, despite a small drop in attendance from last year, this year’s event has exceeded expectations. William H. Coleman, founder of TravelMart Latin America, told media members that this year’s event attracted roughly 300 buyers, down from 350 from last year’s event in Quito, Ecuador. Total attenadance, including suppliers (which are always capped at 250 companies), media members and VIPS came out to roughly 1,000 delegates.
However, Coleman noted that last year’s event was a “benchmark,” attracting the most delegates in the 33-year history of the show. “Since last year, the bottom pretty much fell out of the economy worlwide,¨Coleman said, noting that uncertainity beyond 2009 along with the ongoing swine flu scares also hurt the industr.
When you consider all of those factors, having only 50 less buyers than last year is pretty impressive, according to Coleman. “We were worried about whether enough people would attend,” he said, noting that he originally didn’t want to have the show in Chile when the idea was first presented to him three years ago. “But after seeing what this destination has done in the last two years (as far as hotel developments go), Patagonia, Chile, it is an emerging destination that the indsutry still doesnt’t know enough about. we realized there was enough interest in Chile.”
Coleman noted that next year’s event will be hosted in Lima, Peru.