Black Meetings and Tourism

September/October 2010

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Q & A A CONVERSATION WITH VINCENT VANDERPOOL WALLACE America is now the main source of visitors to several islands including Antigua & Barbuda. Do most visi- tors from the Bahamas come from NorthAmerica? A: Of By far it is almost on the order of 80% from all of visitors come fromus. If you include Canada as part north America its probably the up the order of 85 -86%of all our visitors Q: How is that different fromsay 5-10 yrs ago? A: It was a small proportion but I think is has really been the result of the growth from the U.S. because we aggressively decided that it made a good deal of sense for us to focus on what the largest economy in the world and you have a lot of countries that talk about diversifying their sources of business, which we agree with. Andwe are doing it butwe also don’twant to diversify at the expense of drawing from the biggest econo- my, which by far is the U.S. of America. PART I BY SOLOMON J. HERBERT Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace is the Minister of Tourism and Aviation for The Islands of the Bahamas. Before assuming his current post he served as the Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization. Q: Recent report from a market- ing company indicates North 18 Q: Do you see this increase as result ofmore airlift coming in,or the lack of business coming from Europe? Exactly what is causing it? A: No it’s actually increase in the number ofU.S. visitors as opposed to a kind of a decrease in the visitors from elsewhere, because we the deliberately started targeting to get a lot more business from North America. And you hit it on the head. Certainly in my time as minister our #1 strategy is to focus on airlift,which is I have the proximity of the Bahamas to the U.S. reflected in the cost and ease of travel to the Bahamas. Because that has really been a big piece that was missing for the longest time. For many places in the U.S. ofAmerica, it was the same cost to go travel beyond the Bahamas to other competing desti- nations instead of coming to the Bahamas. So we decided to attack that in terms of making ourselves more competitive and that has worked. We remind people for example that slightly more than half of the visitors going to Las Vegas drive there. Something on the order of three quarters if the visitors going to Orlando drive there. But nobody drives to the Bahamas so you don’t focus on airlift, you really are not focusing on your business. And that’s why the combination of tourism and aviation. And in the Caribbean I have been studying for many,many years. I can never under- stand anybody being responsible for tourism and not also aviation. The two of themhave to go hand in hand and I have to credit our primeminis- ter for making that happen. Q: Has this increased visitation from North America changed your marketing strategy? A: Yes because as you know what has been a very important part of what we focus on is that proximity matters. Proximity also in the case of example of Florida, as compared to Washington state, Black Meetings & Tourism September/October 2010:

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