Above: Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello addresses attendees at CHTA Marketplace
By Alexander Britell
SAN JUAN — There was even Despacito.
A fanfare-filled opening ceremony kicked off the 2018 edition of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s Caribbean Travel Marketplace conference, as Puerto Rico sent a major signal to the world that it is back and open for business — and the Caribbean region, too.
Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello headlined the ceremony, focusing on the concept of “coming back,” talking of what he called the “greatest build back in our history,” and pointing to the importance of tourism to the future of Puerto Rico and the wider Caribbean.
CHTA President Karolin Troubtzkoy addressed the audience, also speaking to the Caribbean reconstruction process in the wake of last year’s storms.
“It is our love for our homelands and our pride in our homelands that will guarantee better and brighter futures for our coming generations,” she said.
But the star of the ceremony just might have been the Philharmonic Orchestra of Puerto Rico, whose musical exploits included a lively performance of the 2017’s global music sensation, Despacito.
And itt was fitting that a Caribbean song that upended the global music industry should kick off the region’s biggest travel conference.
There was a different kind of energy at this year’s opening ceremony, a palpable sense of purpose and a feeling that the Caribbean was ready for a significant rebound in 2018. The Caribbean comeback was in full display.
Caribbean Travel Marketplace, the CHTA’s annual travel industry summit that brings together hundreds of the biggest players in Caribbean tourism.