Caribbean officials set plans to gain U.S. visitors

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -- Increased marketing efforts; special promotional campaigns on television and in print, and a more creative use of the Internet are short-term measures designed to shore up Caribbean market share from the U.S.

These measures were agreed upon by 64 public and private-sector tourism officials in Barbados at a Caribbean Tourism Organization retreat last month which addressed challenges facing the Caribbean region.

Officials said the region suffers from low visibility in the U.S. market and declining visitor figures, due to promotions by competing destinations as well as cruise discounting as a result of cruise ship overcapacity.

Jean Holder, secretary general of CTO, said that "marketing is crucial. Right now, we have to get our numbers up and the region must become more visible."

Short-term measures to help pump up the U.S. market to the Caribbean include:

  • Increased promotion.

  • Creative use of the Internet through links to wholesalers and their booking engines.

  • A public relations and media blitz.
  • Within the Caribbean, the CTO will work to promote intra-Caribbean travel through the development of a multifaceted Tourism Awareness Program.

    Some long-term measures include research on new avenues of distribution, improved airport and customs facilities, more tourism training and product development.

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