The countdown is on for the 40th Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association Market, set for October 3-5 at the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan.
“This will be the first live, in-person, Caribbean-based trade event of this size in the region in two years,” said Karen Whitt, Marketplace chairman and vice president of sales and marketing for Hartling Group in Turkey and Caicos.
January 2020 marked the last Live Market, which took place in Nassau, weeks before Covid closed borders and travel. The 2021 version last May was virtual.
Whitt said 2022 enrollment numbers for buyout companies were ahead of forecasts. “Our appointment times for face-to-face supplier-to-buyer meetings opened in early August and have been coming fast and furious ever since,” she said.
This pace reflects the growing demand from travelers to visit Caribbean destinations, according to Whitt. “The Caribbean remains one of the most desirable destinations in the world,” she said. “The convergence of Caribbean tourism buyers and sellers in one place for three days is sure to help fuel the region’s recovery.
“We’ve all been working in a bubble for two years,” she added. “Now that the region has reopened, we need to get out there and showcase the destinations and their properties. Many new hotels and attractions have opened and existing properties have used the Covid time to upgrade, remodel and renovate, so the Marketplace is the place to discover all that the Caribbean has to offer in one setting.”
More than 75 buying companies representing 17 markets, including meetings and conferences, destination weddings, romance, adventure, sports and other niche markets, have already signed up, according to Vanessa Ledesma, acting CEO and general manager of CHTA.
“Of these buying companies, 20 represent new buyers in the Caribbean, which expands business opportunities for participating stakeholders. On the supplier side, we have 135 companies representing 25 Caribbean destinations. The total number of delegates from registered until August 18 is 472,” Ledesma reported.
A focal point of this year’s conference will be the destination pavilions, a new feature that aims to showcase the strengths, diversity and cultures of individual Caribbean countries.
“The pavilions are not designed as meeting places during the conference, but as focal points and exhibition areas for attendees to see. Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands have been registered as destinations and we will have a total out of six pavilions total,” Whitt said.
In addition to in-person meetings, Marketplace events will include a trade show, seminars, destination updates, pre- and post-family trips, media press conferences and networking.
This year marks Marketplace’s 40th anniversary and CHTA’s 60th anniversary, and both highlights will be central to many of the events, starting with the opening night ceremony on October 3 at Distrito T-Mobile, the entertainment complex and of the kitchen that opened in 2020 in front of the Convention Center.
“Puerto Rico as the host country is really pulling out all the stops for us,” Whitt said. “The destination has hosted Marketplace nine times over the past 40 years, and the last was in 2018, shortly after Hurricane Maria. Much recovery and change has taken place in Puerto Rico since, including hotel and resort upgrades and new facilities and attractions. meetings.”
She added, “The opening night ceremony promises to be a spectacle that will serve as a prelude to what all of us at CHTA have been working towards: a successful, productive, fun market that fuels the region’s recovery and raises awareness of everything the Caribbean region has to offer.”