Speaking at the operator’s 18th annual agent recognition awards in London – before Hurricane Maria hit this week – managing director Paul Cleary said the industry needed to continue selling holidays to the area.
“None of us want the wider beautiful sunny Caribbean to be affected by this: 98% of what we sell is completely unharmed,” he said. “They need our support more than ever and every one [in this room] has a moral obligation to sell and support the Caribbean. They will be back much quicker than you think but once the media have stopped covering the islands they will need your support more than ever.”
He said that prior to the hurricane impact, business for the operator was up by 10%, and thanked the trade for its support. “To be 10% up is a massive achievement and I would say that increase comes from being better than ever before at what we do – and because of you of course, as 90% of business comes from independent agents,” he said.
Cleary said the company had introduced its European programme for this year with “gentle hesitation” but had been “absolutely blown away” by the response, recording £2 million in sales. “Greece became our third top-selling destination overall this summer – an incredible stat considering we only introduced it less than a year ago,” he said.
Among the awards were Agent of the Year, Travel Counsellors; Best Small Group, Triangle Travel; Highest Increase, Chobham Travel; Best Large Group, Hays Travel; Most Innovative Travel Agency, Baldwins Travel; Best Newcomer, Crowthorne Village Travel; Individual Award for Excellence, Joseph Rajkovic, 2J’s Travel; Agent of The Year – Small Independent, Ashdown Travel; Diamond Agent of The Year, Travel Time World; Platinum Agent of The Year, Symphony World Travel; Gold Agent of The Year, Sunways Travel; Caribtours Award for Outstanding Support, Thames Travel; and Chairman’s Award for Outstanding Support, Travellers World.