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Caribbean Marketplace Attracts Hundreds To San Juan
Annual Event Returning To Roberto Clemente Stadium; While Regions Tourism Is Troubled, It Is Still Optimistic About Future
By JOHN COLLINS
January 8, 2004
Hundreds of representatives of the hotel and travel industries from the three-dozen member destinations of the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) and their counterparts in North America and Europe, as well as from Latin America and Asia, are descending on San Juan this weekend for their annual meeting at Roberto Clemente Stadium in Hato Rey.
Long-time attendees of Caribbean Marketplace always give San Juan high marks for hosting the event. There are very few locations and governments with the resources to host the event because of its size. With its allied members, it has at times attracted upwards of 1,500 attendees.
"Marketing the diversity of the Caribbean is a daring enterprise," said Gov. Sila Calderon, in a program welcoming the delegates. "The unique elements we have in common allow us to always rise to the occasion of making our region a preferred destination."
"San Juan, as part of the U.S., is the perfect place to do business," said San Juan Mayor Jorge A. Santini. "We have a great geographic and strategic position and a very skilled and bilingual work force which make us an excellent location for business."
"Now more than ever, a strong Caribbean presence in the global tourism marketplace is essential," said Simon B. Suarez, the first Dominican hotelier to serve as president of CHA. The Dominican Republic, because of its large inventory of rooms (54,000), has emerged as one of the biggest delegations at Marketplace.
Although San Juan still doesnt have its convention center, Roberto Clemente Stadium has proved to be adequate in spite of some drawbacks. Delegates in previous years have been willing to overlook whatever complications result from moving the hundreds of delegates from hotels in Condado, Old San Juan, and Isla Verde to the stadium because of the fine-tuned cooperation that has developed between the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the San Juan municipal government, and the host committee of the Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association. Pivotal organizations in the cooperation are the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. and the CHA head office located in San Juan.
The delegates continue to be impressed by the warmth and hospitality of Puerto Ricans in helping to ensure the events success. The stadium itself, despite some obvious disadvantages, wins high marks from most of the delegates because all of the booths are on one floor. They feel their destinationsregardless of sizereceive more equal exposure than in other locations, such as the Cancun Convention Center, where they complained that booths were spread over several floors.
Local participants feel that politicians and government employees deserve compliments for setting aside differences to ensure that the important visitors, as well as opinion and decision makers, experience well-coordinated activities. This is especially true this year, since Puerto Rico is in the midst of an election campaign that tends to dominate the scene.
Marketplace brings together representatives of the hotel industry from throughout the region to meet with international buyers such as tour wholesalers, incentive promoters, meeting planners, and airline executives.
This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.