New York City came alive last week despite the dreary mid-Atlantic weather when Caribbean Week in New York www.onecaribbean.org took over Manhattan, June 8-12. The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), organizers of Caribbean Week, called this year’s annual event a success. The week-long affair filled with celebrity chef demonstrations, keynote speakers, informational seminars, and cultural entertainment met the goals of raising awareness of the Caribbean as a prime vacation destination for tri-state area travel.
According to Hugh Riley, interim secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, “Not only did Caribbean Week encourage travel to the region, it served as an opportunity to highlight the diversity of individual Caribbean countries while also underscoring the importance of the New York metro area tourism market.” Consumers and the media were brought together to experience a taste of the region through cultural entertainment, prize giveaways, and even an authentic Caribbean wedding while gaining valuable industry insight from leading experts in the tourism field. continued, “The feedback we’ve received from attendees has been overwhelmingly positive, and we look forward to our return to New York City in 2010.”
Celebrity chefs participated in a series of media appearances and cooking demonstrations at Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s throughout the week beginning on Monday, June 8. An official kick-off, ribbon cutting was held outside the Manhattan Center on Thursday, June 11 where inside, the Caribbean Travel & Cultural Fair set a celebratory tone. More than 1,500 consumers enjoyed authentic Caribbean fare while gaining valuable product information about various destinations within the region. Highlights of the fair included a Caribbean Vacation Mart where consumers could purchase vacations at remarkably reduced prices. MarryCaribbean.com sponsored a lavish wedding ceremony for Mr. and Mrs. Brian and Lisa Rawson who were gifted with an all-expenses paid honeymoon to the British Virgin Islands, wedding bands courtesy of the United States Virgin Islands, cake cutting ceremony sponsored by St. Kitts, an anniversary getaway to Jamaica, and more.
The day continued at the New Yorker Hotel with a Media Awards Luncheon honoring some of the best journalists and producers within the US and Caribbean media markets, as well as a Media Marketplace and informational workshops for the Caribbean Diaspora and Travel Agent community. Caribbean Treats: Food, Rum & Rhythm closed the program on Thursday where the Manhattan Center again came alive with the sights and sounds of the Caribbean. Food tastings, premium rum samples, and non-stop entertainment wowed a crowd of 500 plus.
On Friday, June 12, the day opened with a riveting Marketing Conference with the goal of better understanding the current position and future of the Caribbean’s travel and tourism industry. Philip Wolf, president and CEO of PhoCusWright, Inc. served as the keynote speaker for the conference. A panel of tourism experts subsequently discussed the “Mindset of Today’s Vacation Traveler Doing More with Less.” The panel, moderated by David Pavelke, travel director of Google, also included Fiona Morrison, director of brand management and advertising for JetBlue Airways Corporation; Paul Gilberto, executive vice president and chief brand development officer for Fitzgerald+CO; and Laurdes Hainlin, director of Starwood Caribbean Collection.
The Marketing Conference coincided with the first-ever Caribbean Meeting and Incentive Travel Showcase, a highly sought-after session to target the meeting, incentive, conference, and exposition markets. The Allied Awards Luncheon followed where several people were honored for their special contributions to promoting the Caribbean, including Michele M. Paige, president of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association, recipient of the “Jerry” Award; Dave Price, weather anchor of the CBS Early Show, who was honored with the Allied Award; Paul Pennicook, president, International Lifestyles, SuperClubs Resorts and recipient of the Marcella Martinez Award; and senior editor Joe Pike of Travel Agent magazine, who was honored with the Marcia Vickery Travel Journalism Award.
The culmination of the week’s festivities was the 36th Annual Governments of the Caribbean State Ball at The Plaza Hotel, an elegant black-tie gala featuring the finest in Caribbean food and entertainment. The event, emceed by the Today Show’s Jenna Wolfe, was held under the auspices of the CTO Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization that provides scholarships and study grants to Caribbean national students and industry personnel wishing to pursue studies in tourism, hospitality, and language training. Attended by high-ranking CTO and tourism officials, in addition to leading members of the Caribbean Diaspora, the ball honored some of the most notable names in the Caribbean community with three distinguished awards. These included The Honorable Denzil Douglas, recipient of this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award; Rosemary Parkinson, recipient of the Special Recognition Award; and Karl and Faye Rodney of NY Carib News, recipients of the Excellence Award.