Above: the Puerto Rico Convention Center
By Alexander Britell
SAN JUAN — The Caribbean’s newest travel conference began with a simple idea.
“We decided that the world should become an island,” says Ingrid Rivera Rocafort, executive of the director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, which launched the first-ever Expo Turismo Internacional at the Puerto Rico Convention Center this week.
Thursday saw the culmination of that vision with ETI, a new kind of Caribbean conference aimed at gathering travel agents and tourism actors from around the world in one regional hub.
The conference, which is planned as an annual one, is modeled on those held in larger tourism areas like Florida Huddle and FITUR; the goal is to position the Caribbean as a major travel trade intersection, and Puerto Rico as its epicentre.
“ETI Puerto Rico has been designed to highlight the options to enjoy the beauty, sports, nature, adventure and gastronomy in the Caribbean area and globally,” Rocafort said. “ETI will help raise awareness, not only for the diversity of our offer between travel agents and key personnel in international markets, but it is ideal as a conventions and business destination.”
To that end, the attendance was decidedly international, with travel agents as far south as Brazil, and agents and business delegations from China and Africa.
While it focused on Puerto Rico’s host of destinations and attractions, from Old San Juan and Ponce to adventure tourism and piña coladas, it also had a sizable Caribbean contingent, with destinations on hand from Nevis to the British Virgin Islands.
On Saturday, the conference takes a consumer tone when the booths and exhibitors open to the general public.