CARIBBEAN "HOT HOT HOT" IN NEW YORK
NEW YORK (March 3, 2011) – Despite the winter chill outside, the Caribbean was bubbling hot at the eighth annual New York Times Travel Show this past weekend as thousands of consumers came looking for bargains, for Caribbean cuisine and to attend seminars and cultural presentations from countries around the world.
These shows are incredibly important from a marketing, sales and public relations perspective because once the peak winter comes to an end by the middle of next month, destinations and hotels will be hunting for business.
Held at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City, the Travel Show featured nearly 500 exhibitors representing more than 150 countries, attracting a unique global representation of the world’s leading tourism markets including Africa, Asia, Australia/South Pacific, Canada, the Caribbean, Europe, Mexico, Central America, South America and the United States.
“Vision without implementation is hallucination,” and it was satisfying to see so many Caribbean destinations – from Barbados to Bermuda, and St. Lucia to St. Kitts – taking the business of tourism marketing so seriously this past weekend.
The destinations that start their summer and fall marketing soonest – the ones with the vision – are likely to reap the spoils that come during the tough months following Spring right through the end of the year.
With world economies yet to fully emerge from the global recession and unrest in Northern Africa placing an upward pressure on oil prices and airfares, it will not be an easy ride for the Caribbean for the rest of the year.
But with crisis comes opportunity and the region, along with its umbrella bodies the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and the Caribbean Tourism Organization, were making a loud noise with all drums beating in Manhattan.
The New York market will probably be increasingly important to the region, as securing new airlift from new markets remains a challenge, and uncertainty still surrounds the performance of the British market with its oppressive Air Passenger Duty on long distance air travel.
Some relief should be on the way for intra-Caribbean tourism with the start of Caribbean Airlines, CARICOM Airlines and American Eagle commuter services which will hopefully benefit the consumer with lower fares, and boost multi-destination travel as destinations roll out special events throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall.
But the low hanging fruit will remain in New York where airlift is in abundance and where marketers can lure travelers from other regions of the world and encourage them to put both New York and the Caribbean on their itineraries.
Bevan Springer, a New York Amsterdam News columnist who writes frequently on travel and tourism issues as well as the Caribbean Diaspora, is the President of the New Jersey-headquartered Marketplace Excellence, Inc. – a full service, integrated marketing agency committed to excellence in the fields of public relations, marketing and media coaching. He also produces the Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism – CMEx .
CAPTION: Tiffany Bertrand of the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism (right) chats with Maryland travel agent Cynthia Amin-Hall at the New York Times Travel Show.