CHA taking care of business in the Bahamas

Caribbean Marketplace 2012 was officially opened this week with much pomp and circumstance at Atlantis in The Bahamas with attendees including Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham. The annual travel show has attracted a total of 1,190 delegates from 18 countries, including Canada, the most in three years. Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association Josef Forstmayr noted that 2010 was a record year for “stop-over” arrivals in the Caribbean with 23.1 million visitors and said the forecast for 2011 is a 4% increase on this. “There is no question that our buyers who are attending Caribbean Travel Marketplace (‘Travel’ has been added to the Caribbean Marketplace name) are in large part responsible for these encouraging and welcome statistics. The Caribbean remains the most tourism-dependent region in the world and the substantial volume of transactions — generated by the 15,000 appointments that will take place here over the next two days — will bolster the Caribbean nations’ economies directly resulting in a better standard of living for our Caribbean citizens.” Forstmayr also took time to “challenge” the airline industry, noting that the CHTA estimated that in 2010 that Caribbean governments collectively paid $45 million to secure lift — only to find “that our air lift is still inadequate and way too expensive for our visitors.” Travel and tourism directly and indirectly employs 2.2 million people in the Caribbean (one in every eight jobs) and accounts for 14.2% of the Caribbean’s economic activity — more than any other region in the world. The Marketplace official opening included performances by the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band.