Ministers and Travel Advisors hold historic meeting on tourism stakeholders confident about the future of Caribbean tourism

PROVIDENCIALES - For the first time in its history eight Ministers of Tourism, including two Deputy Prime Ministers, descended on Beaches Resorts in Turks and Caicos from August 28th to the 31st, for the annual Caribbean Showcase of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA).  


Among the delegates were Minister of Tourism and Economics for Curacao Ruisandro Cijntje, Minister of Tourism and International Transport for Barbados Ian Gooding Edghill, Minister of Tourism and Economic Development for Grenada Lennox John Andrews, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism and Investment from Saint Lucia Dr. Ernest Hilaire, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Investment and Aviation for the Bahamas Chester Cooper, the host Tourism Minister from the Turks and Caicos Josephine Connelly and Minister of Tourism and Foreign Affairs for Antigua and Barbuda Charles Fernandez. Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett joined via video conferencing.  



Curacao’s Minister of Tourism and Economics Ruisandro Cijntje told the hundreds of travel advisors in attendance that his country was experiencing positive growth in the tourism industry, “Which we are very happy about as tourism is now our main economic pillar. I am proud to say that in July 2023 we have seen a significant increase in stay over arrivals, setting the island on course to achieve a historical milestone of half a million visitors later this year.” 


Chief Executive Officer of ASTA Zane Kerby, expressed his confidence in tourism sector in Curacao and by extension the region, and pointed out that the Caribbean is now the second most important outbound market for the United States, “The Caribbean is the second largest outbound market from the United States and for the last two years it’s been the top outbound market for overseas travelers from the United States. Western Europe has taken its crown back, but this is still a place where there is enormous demand. In fact, I’ll go on record and say 2023 has seen the highest record travel of Americans to the Caribbean in US history.” 


Kerby said this just underlines the importance of having so many tourism ministers at the meeting, to the future development and growth of the region’s tourism sector, “Travel Advisors are demand creators for places all across the Caribbean, that’s why it was important for them to hear directly from the Ministers of Tourism from islands all across the Caribbean. The fact that they’re here (the Ministers) and that they are talking to US-based travel advisors about all the great features, benefits, new hotel builds and new features that are coming to their islands is a testament to the relationship and the importance and the strength of it.” 


Stressing on the critical role travel advisors play in helping to direct visitors to the region, Kerby went on to declare that the Caribbean has no better partner than Sandals Resorts, “Sandals is the only Fortune 500 brand to come out of the Caribbean, they are a major player, not only as a brand but a major employer in the Caribbean. The brand is extremely strong in the United States, it has very positive associations and it’s no wonder why so many of our travel advisors joined us here this week.” 


In fact Minister Cijntje noted that the opening on Sandals Royal Curacao in 2022 resulted in an immediate boost to the tourism sector there, “We have seen a lot of Americans coming our way. Sandals is very aggressive in promoting, marketing not only the resort, but the whole island. They want to let people know more about the people and island where they are heading. We have experienced that in Curacao, and we are so happy with Sandals in Curacao.” 


ASTA’S 2024 convention will take place at Sandals Royal Curacao in August next year, where the association is hoping to build on the strides made this year. 


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