St. Kitts makes strong pitch for business at CHTA Caribbean Travel Marketplace

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS(CUOPM) – Tourism in St. Kitts is expected to benefit from its strong strategic marketing push at the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Caribbean Travel Marketplace 2013.

The event, at the Atlantis Resort in Nassau, Bahamas from January 20th to 22nd was led by Federal Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator the Hon. Richard "Ricky" Skerritt, who spread the message that the twin island Federation is an ideal Caribbean destination for leisure travel clients.


"Taking part in the CHTA Caribbean Marketplace continues to be an excellent way to jump start our trade relations at the beginning of each year," said Minister Skerritt.

"The face to face networking that took place with our existing and potential tourism partners helped position our destination even better moving forward, and gave us a clearer vision of what we need to accomplish over the next few months. The fact that so many of our local stakeholders joined together to aggressively market St. Kitts throughout this Marketplace event demonstrates the value of the tourism partnership we have developed between our local private and public sectors. Our meetings in Nassau have also strengthened my expectations for the performance of our industry in 2013," he said.

Minister Skerritt held discussions with key decision-makers from various airline carriers to the region to explore opportunities for increasing airlift into St. Kitts.

Meeting with those travel providers who directly book hotel rooms and to add new tour operator programs was also a focus for members of the delegation who interacted with key tour operators and/or wholesalers covering the Caribbean region of the travel industry.

Tour operators, top distribution systems, publishing companies and travel industry journalists and bloggers attending the event were updated on the St. Kitts Destination Specialist program, which debuted last year, as well as island-wide value added programs, the status of new developments and the island’s latest news and information.

CHTA Marketplace is a two-day event that consists of pre-scheduled business meetings between suppliers and buyers as well as various events and receptions. The St. Kitts delegation held a total of 37 appointments during the course of the event, more than in any prior year. Among the tour operators meeting with St. Kitts were Travel Impressions, Classic Vacations, TNT Vacations and Costco Travel and long-term tourism partner Expedia.

Expedia indicated that, while their business to the Caribbean had increased 18% over the year, St. Kitts exceeded that growth, seeing an increase of 38%.

Meetings were also held with new tour operators from Russia, Poland and Mexico. In addition to the meetings, the St. Kitts delegation participated in "Preferred Partner Receptions" hosted by Expedia, Classic Vacations and Flight Centre (GOGO).

In keeping with the growing influence of online and social media, St. Kitts continues to direct more efforts to these marketing channels. This year, St. Kitts interacted with CHTA, various journalists and other event attendees by tweeting from its official Tourism Authority account with the designated conference hashtag, #CHTAMP2013.

The delegation from St. Kitts & Nevis that attended CHTA Marketplace 2013 was comprised of: Senator Ricky Skerritt, Minister of Tourism & International Transport; Mrs. Carolyn G. James, Acting CEO of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority; Jacynth Hendrickson, Tourism Officer for the St. Kitts Tourism Authority; and Denise Zimber, CTC, Industry Relations, Marketing & Sales for the St. Kitts Tourism Authority.

Several local stakeholders also participated in the event from the Ocean Terrace Inn, St. Kitts Marriott Resort & Royal Beach Casino, Sugar Bay Club, Timothy Beach Resort and Tropical Tours Ltd. on St. Kitts as well as the Four Seasons in Nevis.