For the first time in nearly 40 years, Caribbean Travel Marketplace, which brings together Caribbean hospitality and tourism professionals with regional colleagues and international buyers and sellers, will be staged virtually. The marketing event, now in its 39th edition, is traditionally held during January, but due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on travel and in-person events, the event will take place in an online environment May 11-14, 2021.
Vanessa Ledesma, acting director general and CEO of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), which hosts the annual gathering, confirmed that Marketplace organizers are crafting an agenda that will allow participants more time to engage with tour operators, travel advisors, partners, trade and consumer media and influencers, to network, showcase and sell their destinations and services.
Although not meeting face-to-face is a major change for CHTA’s marquis event, Ledesma is confident that participating in what has become one of the region’s most highly anticipated travel, tourism and hospitality events will deliver countless benefits to attendees. Major destination partnership opportunities are also being developed, according to the CHTA.
In its virtual format, Caribbean Travel Marketplace, which typically lasts for just over two days, will be presented over the course of four days in May. According to Ledesma, the online format allows the Marketplace to “incorporate supplemental elements without impacting the core buying and selling appointments.”
In preparing for its inaugural online format, the Caribbean Travel Marketplace task force reviewed feedback from attendees of previous Marketplace events and analyzed other virtual events to incorporate best practices. The show will seek to maximize attendees’ time and avoid long hours spent in front of a computer screen. Events will be scheduled to accommodate the participation of delegates located in multiple time zones and will allow for more than one representative per company at pre-scheduled appointments.
Ledesma also confirmed the launch of “CHTA: Forward Together,” the association’s membership drive, which highlights the benefits of membership as it promotes the interests of the private sector of the most significant economic driver in the Caribbean. The “Forward Together” campaign highlights the association’s powerful advocacy, its hallmark Caribbean Travel Marketplace, the Resilience Series, Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum (CHIEF), Taste of the Caribbean and Health Training Series.