600 US travel agents to visit in September

  • Tugboat Faithful is overshadowed by the bow of the Norwegian Breakaway. (Photo by Akil Simmons)

    Tugboat Faithful is overshadowed by the bow of the Norwegian Breakaway. (Photo by Akil Simmons)

Bermuda’s tourism industry will get a huge boost later this year when hundreds of US travel agents hold a convention on the Island

Around 600 delegates from the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) will sail to Bermuda on board the cruise ship Norwegian Breakaway, spending three days here between September 17-19 before heading back to New York.

The agents will attend a series of presentations while at sea, but once they reach dry land they will be encouraged to explore the Island.

The Bermuda Hotels Association and Bermuda Tourism Authority will be hosting a Taste of Bermuda reception at Dockyard where local vendors can showcase their goods and services to the travel agents, while the Corporation of Hamilton will be holding a cocktail party for the group.

The visitors will also be given concessions on some Island attractions while ten separate groups will spend one morning touring various Island properties.

A scavenger hunt, a tennis tournament and golf tournament are also planned.

Describing Bermuda as “the jewel of the Atlantic”, the ASTA website states: “Bermuda is much closer than you think — less than two hours away from most eastern US airports.

“With incomparable weather, pink sand beaches, breadth of historic sites and warm, friendly people, it’s no wonder Condé Nast Traveler readers have voted Bermuda Best Island in the Caribbean/Atlantic 18 times since 1994.”

The website continues: “For the first time in its 80-plus year existence, ASTA is holding its annual meeting on board a cruise ship, the Norwegian Breakaway, which will sail from New York to Bermuda. Norwegian is bringing its entire team of sales directors from across North America to the Annual General Conference, including Andrew Stuart, EVP of global sales and passenger services and Camille Olivere, SVP of sales.

“ASTA will kick off its annual meeting with a black-tie gala advocacy dinner at the St Regis New York Hotel in midtown Manhattan to highlight the hard work of those who advocate for travel agents. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is invited.

“As convention attendees learn how to ‘Seas the Future’ while on board and in Bermuda, there also will be opportunities to network and enjoy the travel, including a private sail-away party, a Taste of Bermuda reception with the Bermuda Hotel Association and suppliers, and an exclusive evening reception hosted b Hamilton Mayor Graeme Outerbridge at Pier 6.”

Bermuda Tourism Authority CEO Bill Hanbury said: “The Bermuda Tourism Authority embraced this conference as a top priority for our first year in operation.

“It’s a very prestigious group to have on-island and we’ve committed significant resources, both personnel wise and financial, to ensure they have a great experience.”

And Bermuda Hotel Association president JP Martens added: “The ASTA conference is a great opportunity for Bermuda to showcase its beauty, people and resorts to 600 agents from our North American market.

“The BHA is looking forward to working with the BTA in hosting these agents on-island and showing them what Bermuda has to offer for their clients.”

ASTA President and CEO Zane Kerby said: “I can’t think of a better way to bring travel professionals, suppliers and industry experts together to devise a plan to future-proof their businesses while doing what agents do best — exploring a great destination like Bermuda.

“You’ve got to work hard to play hard and that’s what we’ll be doing on the Breakaway.”

The prestigious organisation claims it is “the leading global advocate for travel agents, the travel industry and the travelling public”.

ASTA members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel.

It is estimated that the reach of the ASTA group translates into millions of dollars through new leisure visitor travel to the Island

*Bermuda has received another plug on a popular New-York city lifestyle blog.

The Gothamist is running a series of articles on the Island in the next two weeks appealing to a younger audience.

Under the headline ‘Did you know Bermuda is two hours away’, the article, illustrated with a photo of pink beaches and blue skies, reads: “Bermuda’s really not just about golf and conservative shorts anymore, though there is plenty of that if it’s your style — no judging here.

“But to help reveal the true island, Bermuda is spreading the word of its amazing cultural and culinary heritage, pink beaches, clear waters, and all that rum.

“For the next two weeks, Gothamist will be sharing the best stuff in a series called Two Hours Away, so keep checking back for everything you didn’t know you needed to know about the subtropical island.

“To set the mood, here’s a list of New York things that take longer than going to Bermuda. You’ll be surprised — and honestly, maybe a little sad.”

The feature then lists a series of events that take longer than two hours including visiting your polling place on Election Day and sitting through a Yankees-Red Sox game.

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Published Jun 4, 2014 at 8:00 am (Updated Jun 4, 2014 at 8:20 am)

600 US travel agents to visit in September

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