First Tourism Showcase deemed a success

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The inaugural Tourism Showcase has highlighted Antigua & Barbuda’s success as a tourist destination, as bookings for the destination in the UK are reportedly up this year.

“One of the largest tour operators in the UK has reported that bookings for Antigua are up 80 per cent this year,” CEO of Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority, Colin James, said.

“We have sold more business between January and June than we did for the entire 2013.”

According to James, the first staging of the showcase has also been so successful that it will potentially become an annual event.

The event, which took place at Sandals Grande Antigua on Wednesday and Thursday, was an opportunity for buyers and sellers in the tourism industry to come together and conduct business. Traditionally, these showcase events have been held in the larger Caribbean islands such as Jamaica and the Bahamas, but this year an Antigua-specific showcase was organised.

The process is referred to by James as a kind of “speed-dating”, that allows those involved to “maximise channels to market, and maximise opportunities to sell the destination.”

The CEO expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the event, saying, “I think a lot of the efforts and the hard work we have done – the Ministry of Tourism, the Tourism Authority, the Antigua Hotels & Tourist Association AHTA – the collaborative efforts have really now begun to deliver for us.

“(This is) meaningful, not just for the country at a higher level, but to the average person in Antigua who derives their income from tourism, both directly and indirectly,” he added.

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