CHTA Caribbean Travel Marketplace Delegates Receive Warm Jamaican Welcome

Jamaica showcased the best of its heritage in food, dance, and music last night (May 20) to over 1,000 delegates from more than 45 countries who are attending the 42nd Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA) Caribbean Travel Marketplace (CTM42), being held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.

The front lawn of the historic Rose Hall Great House was transformed for the colorful welcome event, which marked the official start of the informative trade show that runs from May 20 to 23. Caribbean Travel Marketplace, the region’s premier trade event, is being hosted jointly by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and the CHTA along with various tourism partners.

According to CHTA President, Jamaica’s Nicola Madden-Greig, who is in her third and final year in the position: “This conference will give all local suppliers of tourism products and services the opportunity to network with, deepen relationships and conduct business with new buyers from across the globe to promote their products and the destination.”

Welcoming the delegates in an atmosphere of hospitality, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett stressed that Marketplace is the biggest trade show for tourism in the Caribbean and that it signaled:

Addressing what tourism means to the region, post COVID-19, Mr. Bartlett underscored that “we in the Caribbean who are the most tourism-dependent region on planet Earth, a dependence that reflects itself from 7% percent of GDP in Guyana to 95% of GDP in places like Aruba and Antigua and Barbuda, which means that more than 20% of all the jobs in the Caribbean are driven by tourism.”

Pointing out that this represented over one million people in the Caribbean having employment in the tourism industry, Minister Bartlett added, “but more importantly, a significant portion of the foreign exchange that’s generated in the Caribbean is from tourism; so for us, a recovery is not just a hope, it’s not a wish, it’s not a desire; it’s an imperative.”

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Asserting that the Caribbean was now fully recovered from the fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, he said it was also “growing now in double digits over 2019.”

Meanwhile, highlighting the benefits of the event, Mrs. Madden-Greig said “we find ourselves immersed in the vibrant tapestry of Caribbean culture, hospitality and unparalleled natural beauty.” She said Caribbean Travel Marketplace served to identify new source markets, addressing the need for diversification and emphasizing the need for continued growth while exploiting the boundless opportunities that the Caribbean has to offer.

In that regard, she said over 12,500 appointments had been scheduled for the event, and with the prospect for another 32.5 million visitors across the region, “creating opportunities for local companies taking advantage of that potential visitor spending.”

Caribbean Travel Marketplace is being attended by a host of Government and private sector industry leaders, including Minister of Tourism and Ports for the Cayman Islands and Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Hon. Kenneth Bryan, a host of other tourism ministers and senior executives from other islands. Also attending Monday night’s opening event was US Ambassador to Jamaica, N. Nickolas Perry.

The event offered a choice of delicacies representing Jamaica’s cultural diversity, the Caribbean sound of a steel pan band, exciting reggae and fire dancers, the appearance of a colorful costumed group, a special performance by international recording artiste, Tessanne Chin and a riveting drone show.

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Linda Hohnholz