ASTA Caribbean Showcase a Record-Breaking Success
During the last week of August,
over 250 Travel Advisors and 120 Caribbean suppliers gathered in the Turks and Caicos at Beaches Resort, for the 2nd annual ASTA Caribbean Showcase. This ASTA event, in partnership with Sandals Resorts, was an unqualified success.
Travel Advisor delegates had the opportunity to learn about Caribbean tourism from leading Caribbean suppliers, including an unprecedented seven Ministers of Tourism, and two Deputy Prime Ministers. This is the first time ever a Travel Advisor event in the Caribbean has hosted such a prestigious group of Caribbean destination governmental leaders, including tourism ministers from Turks and Caicos, St Lucia, Curacao, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Grenada and Barbados. Also in attendance and addressing the advisors were the governor of the Turks and Caicos and the Deputy Prime Minister of the Bahamas.
Not coincidentally, these are all islands that Sandals has resorts on, and Executive VP of Sales and Industry Relations, Gary Sadler was credited with pulling together this record setting group.
ASTA President Zane Kirby was quick to point out to the audience during the opening session that the ministers in attendance were indeed there because of the value they place on the Travel Agency distribution channel. With tourism being the number one source of GDP for virtually every Caribbean island, the ministers each affirmed their dependence on Travel Advisors and the economic impact their clients have on their islands.
During the 3-day event, the attending Travel Advisors were given multiple opportunities to enhance their Caribbean knowledge. They heard tourism updates from each of the aforementioned island ministers, as well as having the chance to interact with suppliers at a tradeshow, a supplier hosted dine around program and an opening and closing night reception. An afternoon with a choice of island excursions rounded out the program.
All of the advisors I spoke to were thrilled with the showcase with many reporting bookings generated from the social media posts they did during the events.
Next year’s Caribbean Showcase will be held in Curacao at the new Sandals Royal Curacao Resort from August 24-27. However, so enthusiastic were the Travel Advisors at this year’s event, when it was announced that registration would open on-site for next year’s showcase, it sold out within 24 hours. But don’t despair, I have it on good authority that, for those who act quickly to put their names on the waitlist, additional spots may open up. Visit www.asta.org for additional information.