As the Ministry of Tourism prepares for their most important event of the calendar year, the State of The Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) which will be held the first week in October, Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar Friday spoke to the state of Tourism in The Caribbean region.
In 2017, the Caribbean was hit was intense hurricanes that cost many of the nations to seek international help with restoration efforts and according to the nation’s Tourism Minister some are still trying to recover, but as for The Bahamas in particular, D’Aguilar informed the media of the aggression his ministry will possess in refreshing efforts.
“The state of Tourism in the Caribbean, as we know in 2017 was marked and marred by these historic hurricanes.
“Rebuilding obviously is on the way and we are very ‘bullish’ on the future. Hurricanes have this odd way of refreshing and resetting.
“Tourism in the Caribbean is energized, robust and moving forward,” according to D’Aguilar.
The Tourism minister also informed the press that Planet Hollywood will be investing in St.
Maarten, as the country’s main hotel, Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort was devastatingly hit by Hurricane Irma.
“It was just announced that Planet Hollywood will be rebuilding a 450-room hotel in the destroyed hotel’s place; this is just one of the development projects that is taking place.
“Across our region we are seeing encouraging tourism headlines reporting a record numbers as it has been reported that 1.3 million arrivals to the Cayman Islands so far this year; North American arrivals in Curacao are up 10 per cent in May; 21 per cent overall growth in Tourism in Grenada and in 6.6 per cent growth in Jamaica.
According to D’Aguilar, tourism is the largest growth industry in the world with The Bahamas placing 13 out of the 16 countries – “we are the most tourism-dependent economy in the Caribbean although he is very positive with the uptick in visitor stop over increasing.
Organizing this event was no small task and Ingrid Bartlett, Director of Groups and Conferences for The Ministry of Tourism explained to Eyewitness News what her role consists of in bringing SOTIC to The Bahamas.
“I organize tourism industry conferences and SOTIC is one of the tourism conference put on by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO); I ensure all logistical matters are sorted out.
“My responsibility starts with identifying a hotel for this conference by first conducting a site visit; we negotiate with the salesperson and then we decide which hotel we are going to use,” Bartlett told Eyewitness News yesterday.
Since the 90s, the Ministry of Tourism has been working with Caribbean Tourism Conference (CTC) in Grand Bahama and according to Bartlett, Selma Bramville organized the entire conference from that end [Grand Bahama]; all the programming and agenda for the actual conference, Bartlett highlighted that she “can’t do anything without her – we work together.”
Over the course of nine months, Bartlett and her team worked tirelessly to get the right room rates and location for SOTIC.
She continued, “When organizing a conference, you have to look to start to finish; you’re looking at the meet and greet; you’re looking at ground transportation and exposing the location.
Bartlett confirmed that inclusive of selecting the right hotel venue at the most economical price, her team also has to look at all the amenities that venue has to offer and vastly advertise the luxuries of the site and off-site.
“…you have to look for ways to also promote of shore sites.”
From Ground Transportation to Information Technology (IT) to the Audio Visual (AV) program for the entire conference and of course the opening and closing ceremony, Bartlett further proudly boasted that the entire SOTIC organizing from the Bahamas end was solely done by Bahamians and there was no need to outsource personnel.