More than 100 buyers and 880 suppliers make CHTA Marketplace in Jamaica a success

MONTEGO BAY — The CHTA Caribbean Travel Marketplace wrapped up here on Tuesday after a productive conference with a who’s who of the Caribbean travel industry, from hotels, airline, tour operators, DMCs to members of the press.

The conference was held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre with delegates from 27 different countries, including more than 100 buyers and some 880 suppliers.

“The event has been a success. There had been some concern because there were fewer buyer companies registered this year – though I remind people that there are fewer buyer companies in existence because of ongoing consolidation in the industry. But we’ve had almost 12,000 pre-arranged appointments, meaning there is a lot of interest,” says Richard Doumeng, President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA).

The conference also highlighted the host country Jamaica as a beautiful and reliable tourist destination, while showcasing the many developments within the tourism sector set to make the destination even more attractive.

“As a country we have good reason to be optimistic about the continued growth of our tourism industry. As a travel destination, we have made great strides and in many respects are ahead of the competition,” says the Minister of Tourism, Hon. Dr. Wykeham NcNeill. “We ended 2013 on a very high note, welcoming for the first time over two million stopover visitors in one year and earning an estimated US$2 billion.”

Montego Bay Convention Centre

The government has spearheaded several improvements in the tourism sector, including easing passenger processing at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay; new and diversified airlift (to boost non-English visitor numbers); the addition of 840 rooms and ongoing investment in hotel capacity; the re-development of Ocho Rios currently underway; easing of visa restrictions for Russian and Latin American passport holders and the new North-South highway that will open up the South coast to increased tourism among others.

Philip Rose, Regional Director Canada, Jamaica Tourist Board, says Jamaica is a wonderful destination because of the diversity of the product. “There is a Jamaica for everybody – it doesn’t matter what you do – you can pretty much find it in Jamaica. We’re warm, we’re engaging and we created the all-inclusive concept which we have been doing longer than anyone else.”

The conference closed with an event at the famous Rose Hall with a fun night of rum, reggae and steel drums. The CHTA was unable to confirm where the CHAT Marketplace will take place next year, but there will be a Caribbean Week in Toronto from June 23-27, organized by the Caribbean Tourism Organization Foundation, Inc. (CTO).