Thirty-seven visiting Tour Operator delegates as well as close to fifty exhibitors consisting of hotels, villas, tour companies, airlines, and destination management companies attended ‘Showcase Antigua Barbuda’ trade show organised by the Antigua Hotels & Tourist Association in partnership with the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, and held in The Hangar at the Executive Business Centre at the V.C. Bird International Airport.
The Hangar, transformed with booths representative of suppliers, was filled with tropical palms, wedding gazebos, island safari jeeps, helicopters, locally produced products and more, as the exhibitors put on grand displays to welcome their visitors.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Tourism Industry partners are expressing enthusiasm about the new business prospects for tourism in Antigua and Barbuda following the trade show that promoted the destination to travel partners from the United Kingdom, Europe and North America.
General Manager of the Antigua Hotels and Tourist Association, Neil Forrester said, “This is one of the best groups of product managers we have had on island for many years. The hoteliers have had very full meeting schedules, and have taken advantage of the one-on-one meetings where discussions would have centred on ensuring that the hotel product was carried in as many tour operator programmes as possible, and on ways to boost visitor numbers to the islands.”
Antigua and Barbuda’s business from the UK continues to be strong, with UK tour operators reporting a 15% – 20% increase for 2015. Hayes and Jarvis has reported for the first time that Antigua has taken the #1 spot ahead of Barbados and St. Lucia.
The tour operators expressed commitment to the destination, with Expedia indicating their desire to increase their inventory of hotels and villas on island from 84 to 100.
“I found the trip very useful, especially the showcase. It was great to see what the destination has to offer as well as the different accommodations available. Great on island networking opportunities,” said Emma Radford – Junior Contracts Manager, Thomas Cook UK & Ireland.
Showcase Antigua Barbuda ended on a high note with a cocktail party that depicted the true personality of Antigua and Barbuda. The skills of chefs and bartenders from Antigua and Barbuda’s hotels and the Antigua and Barbuda Hospitality Training Institute were on full display as they served up tasty dishes, desserts and refreshing cocktails to guests who were also treated to a high-energetic and colourful Antigua and Barbuda carnival experience.