ST JOHN’S, Antigua – The Ministry of Tourism intends to conduct further business surveys towards formulating strategies that would make the Staycations Expo more appealing, according to Director of Tourism Policy, Research and Planning, Cortwright Marshall.
Describing the event held this year for the first time at Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Grounds as a “very costly exercise,” he stressed that the changes would also be to “maximise revenue coming out of what we are putting into it.”
The expo, now in its fourth year, wrapped up yesterday with organisers reporting an increase in locals opting to actively vacation at home because of “the information gathered from the expo.”
Forty businesses showcased their products and services.
The Staycations programme was introduced to help resuscitate the local economy during the global economic crisis by offering locals affordable packages at hotels and other tourism-related businesses.
Marshall said local officials would be looking to adopt “best practices” from other countries, including the US and UK in order to expand and grow the initiative.
He challenged residents here to buy into the scheme to not only help local businesses recover but also so they can convincingly sell “the good products and services” existing in the country.
General Manager of the Hotels and Tourist Association Neil Forrester agreed, saying Staycations provides the platform for everyone to become a tourism ambassador.
“But how can you be an ambassador if you have not sampled the product?” he questioned, while urging participating businesses to offer affordable specials that are available only at the event.
“This is not about commercial business. This is that if someone has gone to a hotel or gone on an attraction, has actually enjoyed it, they can go and talk about it,” he said. “We need everyone here to be an ambassador for tourism.”
A 2011 report by the Caribbean Hotels and Tourism Association indicated that tourism contributes 74 per cent to Antigua & Barbuda’s Gross Domestic Product, the highest percentage of all regional countries.