By NATARIO McKENZIE Tribune Business Reporter nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net THE Bahamas should reap major benefits from the exposure generated by the upcoming Caribbean Marketplace conference, Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA) president Stuart Bowe said yesterday, with the month's-end conference already boasting over 12,000 pre-scheduled appointments. According to Alec Sanguinetti, president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), which is co-hosting the event, there is an increase of 500 appointments as compared to the same time last year. The Caribbean Marketplace conference is the premier marketing event of the Caribbean hospitality industry, matching buyers and suppliers through a computerised program of appointments. Speaking at a press conference regarding the event, which will be held at the Atlantis resort on January 22-24, Mr Bowe said: "The benefits which should accrue for marketplace should be both immediate, with bookings this coming season, as well as long-term, particularly from the destination exposure we will receive from the international press featuring a full range of our offerings "Through our promotion boards, and in partnership with the Ministry of Tourism, we are planning pre and post-trips for the press and buyers to Grand Bahama and the Family Islands. They will also be visiting the Nassau/Paradise Island hotels." Executives of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) said yesterday that up to last Friday there were 12,236 pre-scheduled appointments. There are 266 supplier companies and 648 delegates representing those supplier companies, who are expected to be at the conference. There are 116 buyer companies from countries such as Brazil, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the US. There are expected to be about 305 buyer delegates representing the 116 companies. Some 41 international journalists from the Caribbean, the US, Latin America and Europe are expected to be at the conference. Mr Sanguinetti said the success of the 2008 Marketplace conference in the Bahamas was part of the reason the conference, marking its 30th anniversary, has been brought back to this nation. "Marketplace 2008, as with every conference we have had here in the Bahamas, was a tremendous success and that is one of the reasons we're back here today. One of the biggest advantages here is that we know we are working with professionals," Mr Sanguinetti said. "The numbers based on the same time last year say that we are ahead, particularly in terms of the buyer companies and the buyer delegates, and that is what Marketplace is really all about. We have more scheduled appointments, that is a key number; 12, 236 appointments scheduled by the computer and, of course, you add to that the appointments the buyers and suppliers are making amongst themselves now that the computer run is finished. "Last year, the computer scheduled 11,800, so we have over 500 appointments already scheduled by the computer." According to the director-general of tourism, David Johnson, the Caribbean Marketplace conference could not have come at a more opportune time for the Bahamas. Mr Johnson said: "While we are still uncertain globally about the economic recovery, we are seeing economic signs in the Bahamas, and in many areas we are recovering. Hosting Marketplace gives us a special opportunity to showcase some of the very exciting these we are doing here in the Bahamas."


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