The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority’s UK Office, beat out other Caribbean tourism offices to walk away with this year’s Travel Bulletin Star Award for Star Caribbean Tourist Office, during the Travel Bulletin Star Awards held earlier this month in the United Kingdom.
The Travel Bulletin Star Awards 2015 is the UK travel trade’s most prestigious awards programme rewarding every sector of the tourism industry. Now in its 19th year, the awards voted on exclusively by travel agents serves to recognise, reward and celebrate excellence by acknowledging those suppliers that have flourished over the last 12 months and have provided the best products and services possible to UK travel agents.
CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Colin James said “In a business that relies so heavily on networking and building relationships, this endorsement and recognition by our travel trade partners is extremely telling and a testimony to the hard work of the UK team.”
This is the first time that Antigua and Barbuda has won the award. The other finalists were: Bahamas, Barbados, The British Virgin Islands, Grenada and Jamaica, with Saint Lucia as runner-up.
Jean-Marc Flambert, UK & Europe Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, said “we are just honoured that we have been recognized for the hard work that the office has been doing over the last year, led by Joel Henry who with responsibility for Business Development, is at the forefront of our travel trade programme.”
Within the last 12 months the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority’s UK office has revamped their online training programme which was awarded the Travel Agent Choice Training Programme in 2014, brought out to experience the destination, 40 Sales Managers from luxury travel company Kuoni, and 25 UK Tour Operators visiting for Showcase Antigua and Barbuda, a travel trade business to business event that allows hoteliers and tour providers on island to meet with UK buyers.
The UK Tourist office has conducted 40 travel agent educational workshops and destination training sessions with various tour operators, planned 80 travel agent visits, and has organised with trade partners a variety of incentive programmes and competitions to encourage sales to the destination.
Samantha Fowler Destination Manager for Hayes and Jarvis, one of the travel companies that has partnered with the tourist office on destination familiarisation trips said: “Since gaining valuable knowledge we have noticed a significant increase in both our booking conversion for the Island and general Island numbers in terms of visitors seeing an increase YOY of over 100%. In order to confidently sell, agents definitely need to experience, which is evident given our recent hike in booking numbers.”
The UK & Europe Vice President of Sales and Marketing, said that, “the trade is very excited that the destination in April ran an advertising campaign that included and engaged with them, and where they saw many bookings. This is again being repeated in October with our underground tube campaign. The tour operators are very happy to be included in our promotional activities and to see increased activities by the tourist office within the market.”
The destination’s major European markets of the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France and Holland are responding positively to marketing activities as travelers’ interest in the destination is reflected in tourism arrivals, published as of July 2015, up 2% with 52,427 visitors.
For World Travel Market 2015 which takes place from November 2 – November 5 the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority will ensure a high profile presence as the destination uses the world’s leading event for the travel industry to launch major promotions and create a buzz around Antigua and Barbuda’s 60th Carnival Celebrations to be held in the summer of 2016.