Antigua and Barbuda will be intensifying its marketing strategy as it sets out to target Polish Americans to boost tourism.
Director of Marketing, in the North America Office, Derede Samuel-Whitlock said that in two weeks about 75 travels agents will take part in the annual Society of Polish American Travel Agents.
?And, in light of the recent visa restriction that have been lifted for some European countries? this is an ethnic group that we are going after aggressively. The polish heritage and the ties in the communities are strong and these are people who typically because of visa requirements may have not looked to Antigua,? Samuel-Whitlock said on Big Issues yesterday.
?We are trying to look at some of the pockets in our existing markets to see which groups we can go after more aggressively,? she added.
Despite all the challenges the nation is facing, Samuel-Whitlock said she is encouraged that the US is holding its own.
?We are very encouraged. For example we just got numbers for the end of July ? and we were actually 3 per cent off that of last year, a total of 50 passengers less,? the director said.
?A lot of the consumers have shifted their spending habits, they are looking more for deals, they are more responsive to promotions and we are finding that the properties that have been able to do more competitive pricing have been keeping good occupancy levels,? she added
Also weighing in on the discussion was Secretary General and CEO of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Hugh Riley who said that a recent survey shows that people are still travelling.
?They are still travelling and that?s why all we have to do is to make sure that we can grasp the region?s share of those people who are still travelling,? Riley said. ?What it comes down to is the numbers. Why the numbers are so important is because the Caribbean does not treat tourism casually. For us it is a $27 billion industry.?
?We did a survey of suppliers in the US recently and discovered from them that they feel we are starting to see the bottom of this thing, though no one was able to say how long we are going to be at the bottom,? he added.
Riley said he is aware that they are challenges due to the world-wide recession.
?Consumers in the Caribbean?s major market, those being the United States, Canada and Europe have gone through a belt-tightening process, they are not spending quite as much, they are spending differently; they are travelling differently,? Riley added.