Courses for the Caribbean training conference

AntiguaTHE Caribbean Tourism Organisation is to hold another training conference next year, following a successful pilot event earlier this month.

More than 200 agents and 23 exhibitors attended the Courses for the Caribbean conference at Aston University in Birmingham.

CTO marketing director Julia Hendry said: “The feedback  from delegates and exhibitors has been very positive. In addition to the learning opportunities, the chance to network was extremely valuable. We will be looking to repeat the event next year.”

The conference, which replaces the CTO’s annual roadshow, involved an evening reception, dinner and disco, followed by an intensive one-day training course, consisting of a working breakfast and lunch, three seminars and a speed-dating event.

The conference was split into two groups – the first was made up of agents from the south, the second agents from the north.

During each of the seminars, groups of about 25 agents heard six exhibitors talk for about 10 minutes each. Although the seminars were based around themes such as carnivals, music and languages, most of the time was spent on general presentations of the exhibitors’ product.
Delegates were given a copy of the CTO’s TravelFax – a chunky, filofax-style directory, containing at least three pages of information on each of the 31 islands, including details of activities, geography and key facts such as how to get there and best times to visit. It is designed to be kept on the desk for everyday reference.

Both the conference and the TravelFax aim to encourage agents to participate in the CTO’s training scheme, consisting of four levels, from bronze to platinum.

When agents reach silver status their contact details are put on the CTO’s website – – for consumers to book through a Caribbean expert in their area.

Online training: Travel Weekly’s online training programmes feature courses on St. Lucia and the Cayman Islands. Look out for Caribbean-based resorts in the training programmes for Couples Resorts, Sunset Resorts and Secrets, Dreams and Sunscape Resorts & Spas.


Key news from the conference

Almond Resorts: Almond’s Casuarina Beach Resort in Barbados is due to open in Spring 2007.

Anguilla: the home of small hotels where none are bigger than 90 rooms or built taller than a palm tree.

Antigua: the tourist board is planning a list of special activities for visitors to the island during next year’s Cricket World Cup – particularly for those who can’t make the matches. It’s also planning a special weddings and honeymoons fam trip later this year.

Bahamas: holidaymakers can clear US immigration in the Bahamas – an advantage if twin-centering with Florida.

Dominican Republic: the tourist board is trying to promote it as a luxury destination, with pop star Shakira and actor Brad Pitt both buying villas there.

St Kitts: from December 18 Excel Airways is changing its London Gatwick flight from Saturday to Monday, making it a good sell for honeymooners marrying on Saturday.

Turks and Caicos: a new Ritz Carlton hotel is scheduled to open in 2008.


What they said

Virginia Wright, manager, Travel 2000, Hadleigh, SuffolkVirginia Wright, manager, Travel 2000, Hadleigh, Suffolk

“I’ve done the CTO platinum training, and I found this course invaluable. The islands are upgrading so there is always something new to learn. It was good to meet the tourist boards and chat to them formally and informally.”

Rachel Graves, assistant manager, Flight Centre, LeedsRachel Graves, assistant manager, Flight Centre, Leeds

“There are so many islands it’s important to know the differences so you can match the right destination to clients’ needs. I’ll be keeping my Travelfax on my desk for reference – it’s better than getting bogged down with brochures.”

Andrew Fox, homeworker, Personal Travel Advisors, YorkAndrew Fox, homeworker, Personal Travel Advisors, York

“I’ve learnt a lot about the smaller Caribbean islands today, such as Anguilla and Aruba. I would like to become a Caribbean specialist so that consumers from my area logging on to the CTO’s website are directed to me as an expert.”

Penny Howe, manager, Travel Solutions Worldwide, BirminghamPenny Howe, manager, Travel Solutions Worldwide, Birmingham

 “The conference was well structured and I learnt about a variety of islands. I’ve been inspired to visit the Turks and Caicos and the course has helped me build up my weddings and honeymoons product knowledge.”

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