ANTIGUA’S NEW MINISTERS OF TOURISM AND SPORT VISIT WORLD TRAVEL MARKET (WTM) IN THE UK, ANTIGUA’S NUMBER ONE EUROPEAN MARKET
The Antigua and Barbuda has a major presence at the 35th World Travel Market in London (3-6 November). The high level delegation of senior officials included; Honourable Asot Michael – Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy,Honourable E. P. Chet Greene – Minister of Trade, Industry, Commerce, Sports, Culture & National Festivals, Colin James – CEO Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority Ms. Paula Frederick Hunte – Permanent Secretary, Ms. Shirlene Nibbs – Consultant, Ministry of Tourism, Mr. Rohan Hector – Chairman, St. John’s Development Cooperation, Mr. Neil Forrester – General Manager, Antigua Hotels and Tourist Association (AHTA) and Ms. Cherrie Osborne – Director of Tourism for the UK & Europe, Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority
The delegation was supported by nine co exhibiting partners: Antigua Yacht Club Marina and Resort; Bluewaters Hotel; Carib World Travel; Cocos Hotel & Keyonna Beach; Elite Island Resort; Hermitage Bay; Jolly Beach Resort and Spa; National Tours and Services and Sugar Ridge.
Throughout the week future strategy meetings were held with many of the UK’s travel industry leaders from key tour operators including Best at Travel, TUI (UK), Caribtours, Kuoni, Travel Counsellors, Lotus, Barrhead Travel, British Airways & BA Holidays, Virgin Holidays. Overall for Antigua and Barbuda both the tour operators and the hotels reported robust forward booking figures for 2015. The final quarter is looking strong, as the destination has already outperformed the number of bookings made in the whole of 2013 in the first six months of 2014 and UK market predicted to deliver double digit growth by the end of this year.
During an on stand presentation on Monday, the Managing Director of Selling Travel Martin Steady presented Minister Michael with the prestigious Travel Agents Choice Award for ‘Best of the Rest Travel Uni Training Programme’ for its online training course, the only travel awards entirely nominated and voted for by UK travel retailers. The Minister thanked the UK travel agents for voting, as Antigua and Barbuda’s phenomenal success can be attributed to the support and commitment the travel agents have given to the destination.
The destination hosted a gala Trade Partners Appreciation Dinner on the first evening on the first evening of the exhibition with 56 people attending from airline partners to tour operators in the presence of Minister Hon. Asot Michael.
On the Tuesday Minister Michael attended the UNWTO Minister Summit joining Ministers from around the world to discuss and debate the topical issue of the links between tourism and mega-events.
“The importance of sport and sporting events to Tourism Development is not only crucial to Antigua but as we learnt throughout the week to Global Tourism Development”. Commented Hon. Asot Michael. “This was our first visit to WTM and proved to be a highly useful exercise. Our one-on-one meetings with our trade partners and exchanges with Ministers from across the globe have strengthened the delegation’s relationships, provided greater insight into the market needs, current trends and factors that will impact Antigua’s main engine of growth tourism in future years helping to increase the country’s overall economic development”.
Honourable E.P. Chet Greene – Minister of Trade, Industry, Commerce, Sports, Culture & National Festivals met with a number sports tour operators and media during the show. The Minister commented “No doubt Antigua and Barbuda as a destination can reap enormous benefits from a well organised and effectively managed Sports-Tourism platform. Marketing out country as the ideal destination for cricket tours with an academy staffed by our international personalities including Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Anderson Roberts, Sir Richie Richardson and Sir Curtly Ambrose, makes us a one of a kind and a must for every young player and definitely an excellent sell for sports tour operators. An additional advantage comes through our ability to host sports conferences, supported by excellent year round weather. Sports in Antigua and Barbuda is an athletes dream.”
World Travel Market is the world’s leading travel trade exhibition, attended by over 50,000 visitors and exhibitors from around the world over the four day period.