In an exclusive interview during the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association's (CHTA) Caribbean Travel Marketplace in Barbados, Vanessa Ledesma, acting CEO and director general of the CHTA, said the Association will be launching a “Caribbean travel advisor program” in June.
“First of all, the travel advisor community has been an integral part of the return of travel to the region, and it’s not just the Caribbean, but across the world,” she said.
“To that effect,” continued Ledesma, “the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association is launching a program in June, a Caribbean travel advisor program, so that the Caribbean destinations can support the travel advisor with information and knowledge about the region, and that we from a CHTA perspective have an opportunity to start connecting with these advisors.”
So, what could she say about this new program?
“We don’t have a lot of details because we are just literally wrapping up the contractual arrangements,” she said, “but it’s going to be educational sessions through the destinations’ tourism boards and the hotels from across our membership.”
And it will ultimately lead to a significant amount of advisors being invited to next year’s Caribbean Travel Marketplace event.
Although Ledesma didn’t say the exact number of advisors who will be invited to next year’s event at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Jamaica, she said it will be “the first time this many” advisors will be invited to the event.
There was a small group of wedding and honeymoon specialists invited to this year’s Caribbean Travel Marketplace. Still, Ledesma said you could expect that number to grow significantly for next year’s event.
“We started last year with destination wedding planners and MICE planners, so we are expanding that,” she said. “There will be an advisor program by invitation. It will be the first time this many agents will be invited.”
So, how did this come about?
“We did a pilot program back in 2020 in the Bahamas,” she said. “We had 12 luxury travel advisors and we have been trying since to establish it. And the Caribbean travel advisor program is going to allow us an opportunity to start gathering the data and creating our own database of advisors to be invited to Marketplace and to other activities, and for other resources we have available.”
Nadia Gallo, one of about five wedding and honeymoon specialists hand selected to attend this year’s event, said she welcomes more advisors simply because of the importance of meeting the local suppliers.
“I think it’s great that they will be inviting more agents to this event next year because a lot of agents don’t realize how important it is to meet the local suppliers, the people who are going to be helping your clients,” said Gallo, founder of When I Travel, based in Maryland.