26 AUG 2015: Think sun destinations, you picture the three Ss (sun, sand, sea) and happy leisure clients getting their dose of Vitamin D come winter. But at the recent IncentiveWorks 2015, pegged as Canada’s largest tradeshow for meetings and incentive travel professionals, long aisles of booths from those popular sun destinations were busy talking business travel, incentive travel, and meetings and conventions.


One popular destination even opened the show floor with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Rodrigo Esponda, regional director of the Mexico Tourism Board in North America alongside the Consul General of Mexico in Toronto, Mauricio Toussaint officially opened the Mexico booth with a Mariachi band.

“There is a growing interest in the incentive market,” Esponda says and adds, “We have unique products that differentiate us from other destinations and Mexico can offer some uniqueness.”

Why not?

He notes meetings and incentive travel pros can combine Mexico’s sea and sand products with a tour of archaeological sites dating back 2,000 years. “Our cuisine is fantastic – imagine what it would be like to have a fantastic dinner experience trying all the ingredients that go back to the traditions. Every region in Mexico has a specific type of cuisine that excels so the combination on the incentive travel side to showcase this is ideal.”

Now that’s some extra spice to add to any incentive planner’s itinerary.


The St. Lawrence Gap is well known among your leisure client bookings but beyond this popular sun stretch find properties like the Hilton, Accra Beach Hotel and the Savannah Beach Hotel popular for incentive travel bookings.

“The island has a number of conference facilities and a number of hotels and villas that can accommodate large groups,” says Brita Greaves, business development officer in Canada with Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. on the room inventory.

“We are perhaps the only island in the eastern Caribbean that has the type of facilities to accommodate big conferences.”

She notes the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre situated in the St. Michael Parish outside Bridgetown is the only convention centre in the Barbados.

For event planners interested in unique venues, located next to the Grantley Adams International Airport is the Concorde Museum. “A lot of meeting planners use the Concorde Museum for receptions,” says Joy-Anne Crichlow, business development officer in Canada with Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. about the museum which is home to one of the 20 legendary airplanes ever built.

Not bad, seeing that the Barbados was the only Caribbean destination to which the Concorde flew.

Dominican Republic

Punta Cana continues to roll out the red carpet on innovative travel products. The popular all-inclusive resort hub is attracting exclusive hotel brands on its sandy shores.

Jose Luis Soto, managing director with Connect DMC, which is dedicated to groups, meetings, incentives and events in the Dominican Republic, delivers a lively display of new reasons to visit but then he hones in on the old. “Something that is not new is the people. It is a friendly island so you will find smiles all over.”

Here are some more things to smile about: Cirque du Soleil is opening a new theme park with Club Med in Punta Cana called, “Club Med CREATIVE by Cirque du Soleil,” and the Nickelodeon Hotel scheduled to open in late 2016 in Punta Cana is big news.

The Dominican Republic is getting Latin America’s first Nickelodeon theme park resort.

Air Canada Vacations

We conducted an informal poll and asked ACV what the top three sun destinations are for the business travel market.

The Survey says:

First Place - Cancun: “There’s huge flexibility on flights, many hotels with convention centres in the area,” says Remi Pepin, meetings and incentives coordinator for groups at Air Canada Vacations.

Second Place - Punta Cana: The D.R. has seen a spike in MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) bookings says Pepin who adds Punta Cana has been particularly big with Hard Rock as a popular venue for the incentives travel market.

Tied for third: Jamaica in the East and Central Canada and Puerto Vallarta for the West.

“September is our biggest incentive booking month,” says Rina Gurreri, manager of groups and incentives at Air Canada Vacations.



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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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