Black Meetings and Tourism

September/October 2010

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Atlantis Paradise Hotel & Resort GUIDE TO MEETING, INCENTIVES AND TRAVELING IN THE can attract and accommodate larger conventions,” saysRichardKahn,president ofKTCpr,a public relations firmspecializing in travel and tourism. Capturing that business becamemore of a challengewhen the economywent south.Lots In panies decided that incentive trips and board meetings in a tropical retreat are a luxury they couldn’t afford. “There is no doubt that incentive trips and small corporatemeetings have decreased during the past two years as a direct result of the economic downturn,”Kahn says. “What is encouraging, however, is that those incentive programs that are still active are generating interest in the Caribbean because the region still provides the luxury rewards that incentive packagers need.” The cost-conscious event plannerwill certainly appreciate the fact that ameeting in aCaribbean des- tinationmay be tax-deductible forU.S. businesses and organizations. “There are currently about a dozen ormore destinations that have signed reciprocal agreementswith theU.S. InternalRevenue Service and attendees atmeetings in these destinations are allowed to deduct appropriate expens- es associated with thosemeetings,”Kahn says. Of course,with so many spectacular sights, fun activities and a vibrant cultural vibe, even a meeting or convention in the Caribbean can never be allwork and no play.So it can’t hurt to entice potential delegateswith some of the unforgettable expe- riences that await them. Atrip to Jamaicamight offer a chance to climb into the cascadingwaters ofDunn’sRiver Falls, listen to some ghost stories on a tour of the historic Rosehall GreatHouse or take a slow ride on a river raft along theMartha Brae. For a pre- or post- conference adventure in St.Martin, they could dive in and explore the wreckage of the HMS Proselyte InMartinique, they might enjoy an evening at a glitzy casino or a tasting tour of a local rumdistillery. Asailing or surfing excursion offTortola, snorkeling atThe Baths offVirginGorda and dining onAnegada’s famous lob- ster are just a few things to look forward to on a trip to the BritishVirgin Islands.The itinerary for a gathering in PuertoRico could include a stroll throughOld San Juan or a trip to ElYunqueRainforest.Adolphin encounter at Blue Lagoon Island is an option for kids and spouses who are traveling with meeting delegates to the Bahamas—or a great outing for someone enjoying a leisurely incentive trip. TARGETING THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN MARKET ManyCaribbean destinations havemade a point in recent years tomarket themselves toAfrican-Americanmeeting groups and other travelers. “Most of theCaribbean destinations have been courting theAfrican-Americanmeetingsmarket for years and continue to do so as a natural part of themarketingmix,”Kahn says, although he adds that it’s difficult to get a clear reading on how suc- cessful those efforts have been. “I do not have any statistics showing which destinations are gettingmoreAfrican-Americanmeetings becausemost of the statistics do not separate ethnic backgrounds, but only record where themeetings are coming from,” he notes. TheU.S.Virgin Islands employs a two-fold strategy for penetrating themarket forAfrican-Americanmeetings, according to Chantal R.Figueroa, deputy commissioner of tourismfor theU.S.Virgin Islands. Black Meetings & Tourism September/October 20010: 51 BY SONYA STINSON the laid-back, fun-loving Caribbean, meetings are becoming serious business. “The Caribbean has been experiencing a growing interest in the meetings market,with more corporatemeetings taking place in the region as well as a growth and expansion of conference centers that

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