By Carlena Knight
It was nothing but positive reviews from top tourism officials about the execution of this week’s Showcase Antigua Barbuda event.
Now in its seventh year, it is the country’s premier travel trade business-to-business event.
Hosted by the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association (ABHTA), in collaboration with the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA), it attracts major tour operators from the Caribbean, Latin America, North America, the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United Arab Emirates.
And, despite a three-year hiatus due to the Covid pandemic, this year’s edition, according to ABTA CEO Colin James was “the biggest one yet”.
He said he was confident that the country could expect major benefits in the upcoming seasons as a result.
“It’s been excellent. It’s been great. It’s the first one that we have had since the pandemic. It’s the first one in the Caribbean since the pandemic. We are even ahead of Caribbean Market Place which will take place in October this year for the entire region,” he told Observer.
“The feedback from the folks we had brought down has really been awesome. They look forward to this, it’s what helps drive their business as we put the buyers and suppliers together and make sure that they can have fruitful negotiations.
“All the groups that send the business to Antigua and Barbuda are here and as you notice each hotel had its own booth, its own table and they had a booking system. So essentially, they went from table to table, had their meetings and made sure that they do stuff that is really worthwhile.
“We had American Airlines Vacations, British Airways Vacations and West Jet Vacations – they were all here. It’s the biggest one we have ever had with over 70 people here and I think that’s phenomenal for Antigua and Barbuda, it really sets us up for a strong winter season,” James added.
Meanwhile, First Vice Chairman of the ABHTA Alex de Brito explained it was a success for his organisation as they got the opportunity to advertise their hotels to a wider base.
“I think the important thing is to show to people and our suppliers that Antigua is completely open for business.
“It is the first time that we have done a show like this for the last three years and it’s a great feeling to meet new people and people that we have known for a long time again, but the more important thing I think at this time is that most of them have not been in Antigua for three years and are now visiting the hotels, they see the improvements that most of the hotels did.
“I think it is very positive for everybody at this time,” de Brito added.
The three-day event began on June 8 with a ‘Destination Round Table’ meeting, business meetings and a Showcase Antigua Barbuda gala.
It culminated yesterday with tours and excursions to a number of the country’s top historical sites and attractions, plus a celebration to mark the 60th anniversary of British Airways flying to Antigua and Barbuda.