St. Lucia wins bid to showcase the Caribbean

CASTRIES, St. Lucia – In just over a year, in January 2009, St. Lucia will host one of the Caribbean’s biggest tourism conventions, Caribbean Marketplace, presented by the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA).

It is the first time that this major conference, attended by some 1,500 delegates in Aruba last January, will be held anywhere in the Eastern Caribbean, the result of a successful partnership between the St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association, the St. Lucia Tourist Board and the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation.

Senator Allen Chastanet, St. Lucia’s Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, announced the island’s successful bid at a St. Lucia Government reception held in the United Kingdom ahead of World Travel Market, which opened on Monday in London.

The tourism minister described the decision by the CHA Board of Directors as a major breakthrough for the small island, the result of hard work and strong lobbying by the island’s tourism players. “We are truly grateful that the CHA has demonstrated confidence in St. Lucia and our local hotel and tourism association to allow us to host Caribbean Marketplace,” he said, crediting the island’s success over the years in hosting several world class events, including recent Cricket World Cup matches.

President of the St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA), Colin Hunte said his membership was excited to be given the nod to host this important event. “We look forward to mobilising the members of our association and unveiling a warm St. Lucian welcome to regional and international delegates as we showcase St. Lucia’s product to the world,” said Hunte.

He noted that St. Lucia has the talent to ensure the success of such an undertaking. “We think the timing of the event is just perfect to showcase plans for an additional 2,200 rooms and four major championship golf courses,” said Hunte, explaining that the benefits to the island will be enormous.

Senator Chastanet and Colin Hunte said the Marketplace team will be reaching out to everyone in the industry and across St. Lucia to help showcase the island. They also intend reaching out to neighbours in the Eastern Caribbean to get them actively involved so they too can accrue benefits.

Caribbean Marketplace is recognized as the most important tourism marketing event of the year for the Caribbean region. Held every year in January, Caribbean Marketplace sets the tone for travel packaging in the Caribbean.

Buyers and suppliers meet face-to-face to discuss existing contracts, develop packages, and contract for future business.

Buyers, including wholesalers, incentive buyers, meeting planners, group buyers and dive shop owners from the United States, Canada, Caribbean, Latin America, Asia/Pacific, Africa, and Europe meet a range of suppliers from different national hotel associations representing intimate inns, guesthouses and villas, business, meeting and incentive, time-share, all-inclusive and chain hotels from the entire Caribbean region. There is also a strong presence from financial institutions interested in investing in the industry.

CHA Marketplace 2008 will be held from January 13 to 15 at Atlantis on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

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