The main reason for my work trip to the UK was to attend the CTO Caribbean Roadshow event in Chester, having never been to the Caribbean I was keen to learn more about the differences between the different islands, and meet the tourism board representatives face to face.

The event was held at Chester Racecourse, the room had been set up with individual tables and representatives from the Caribbean Tourist Organisation, airlines, tour operators and resort hotels. I tagged along with the friendly group of agents from Chester Travel Connection for our speed dating style sessions at each table, where each representative had a few minutes to deliver their pitch. We earned raffle tickets during the presentation by asking questions, these tickets were for the prize draw at the end of the evening.

Half way round the room, we took a break for some Caribbean cuisine which was deliciously spiced and I knew that when we eventually make it to this destination, we’re going to love the gastronomy. The prize draw was fun, the seven agents with winning raffle tickets took part in a “the price is right” style gameshow, having to guess the closest price to Caribbean themed subjects. Two of the agents from our group won prizes, including a rum & chocolate hamper and a hotel stay in the Caribbean. There was one ticket called out, and no-one responded, so it was redrawn, when I got in later that night, I found a spare ticket crumpled up in my handbag!

Destination events like these are invaluable for a travel agent, it’s an opportunity to increase your knowledge and make some very good contacts. The exhibitors included:
Barbados Tourism
Blue Waters Resort & Spa
British Airways
Cuba Holidays
Elite Island Resorts
Grenada Tourism
Liat
Nassau Paradise Island
Puerto Rico Tourism
St Vincent & The Grenadines Tourism
Trinidad & Tobago Tourism
Turks and Caicos Islands Tourism
Virgin Atlantic Airways

I think I was possibly the only person in the room, who hadn’t visited at least one of the Caribbean islands, so this destination has to feature on our travel plans for 2017. It’s tough deciding where to start, We like to explore, and our ideal would be to island hop, but I wasn’t convinced about taking a cruise, which is the easiest way of visiting a few islands in one go. I think the answer is to utilise the Caribbean airline Liat and ferries, once we have decided on our shortlist.