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Antiguan makes program a priority as tourism workers receive Freestay training

October in Antigua saw tour operators, taxi drivers and other tourism workers complete training which will allow them to promote the Freestay Caribbean cruise conversion program throughout the destination.

The Freestay Caribbean cruise conversion program was officially launched in Antigua on June 1, 2006 and tourism officials are excited to illustrate the many effective ways to distribute the Freestay coins to cruise passengers and tell them the many benefits returning travelers can gain from the program.

The Freestay Caribbean 'Come Back And Stay In The Caribbean' program uses the coins as a way to capitalize on the history of doubloons, like those thrown to the thousands of parade-goers during the world-renowned Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans, where the coins are minted for each destination.

Each coin is etched with a famous landmark or logo of the island or country it represents, the Freestay Caribbean website address and the U.S. toll-free number for the Ministry or Board of Tourism.

Cruise Passengers to Antigua receive coins bearing the Antigua Black Pineapple emblem and are encouraged to log on to the website to find significant offers from registered tourism establishments (hotels, yachts, restaurants, shops, tour operators and other vendors), accessible only through the Freestay website.

The one-day training workshop, organized by the Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with the Antigua Hotels & Tourist Association and Tropical Shipping, took place at the City View Hotel.

Director General of Tourism Lorraine Headley, in addressing the participants, remarked, “You are the front-line ambassadors for this program and we are relying on you to use the skills you learn today to assist us with making the program a success.”

The Freestay Caribbean Cruise Conversion program which encourages cruise passengers to return to the island as land based visitors, is very important to Antigua & Barbuda, Headley continued. “By converting even a small percentage of cruise passengers, the country stands the chance of generating greater tourism revenue.”

Neil Forrester – general manager of the Antigua Hotel and Tourist Association further added that with stay-over visitors, spending greater amounts of money over cruise passengers, this project would definitely create economic benefits for all sectors of the tourism industry.

In addition to Antigua, Caribbean territories participating in the Freestay Caribbean program include Belize, Cozumel, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Croix USVI, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Maarten and St. Thomas USVI.

Training Instructor Jennifer Nugent – Hill the assistant vice president of Tropical Shipping with responsibilities for government and public affairs made a series of presentations to the participants.

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