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The Caribbean island of Puerto Rico will host next year’s ASTA International Destination Expo (IDE), taking place April 14-17 in San Juan. Devoted to destination training, the show will also have a few special features that are unique to the Caribbean, such as ship inspections and destination certification seminars for multiple Caribbean destinations. Agents who attend can become experts on the entire region.
Caribbean ExpertAgents who attend IDE can take advantage of four days of hands-on, concentrated education that is designed to make them experts on the Caribbean. In-depth training sessions will include discussions about Puerto Rico, the Caribbean cruise market, Caribbean island destination training, eco and sustainable tourism, as well as niche markets such as cuisine, golf, spa, honeymoon, weddings, luxury, adventure and sports. Attendees will also be able to earn new certifications on Caribbean destinations to add to their professional profile and network with local companies. ASTA members can register for $299 through Feb. 5. After Feb. 5, fees rise to $349. Non-members can take advantage of a special IDE rate of $384 that includes an ASTA membership. Agents who opt out of joining ASTA can register for $349 through Feb. 5 and for $399 from Feb. 6 and onward. The registration fee includes participation in destination and certification educational sessions; cruise ship inspections onboard Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International and Princess Cruises ships; admission to evening, dinner and networking events; access to the trade show to meet local Caribbean suppliers; and complimentary sightseeing. ASTA has also negotiated special rates at several hotels for participating agents. Attendees who book the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino, which is offering rooms for $139, will be registered to win a Sheraton Suite Sleeper bed if booked by Feb. 5. Agents can also choose to stay at the Caribe Hilton, the Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza or La Concha, a Renaissance Resort. Experiential TrainingOne of the most motivating reasons to attend IDE is to receive hands-on training. This year, cruise lines are further contributing to that endeavor. Agents are able to sign up for ship inspections on April 16-17 onboard five different ships, including the Carnival Victory, Celebrity Summit, Princess Cruises’ Caribbean Princess and Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas and Serenade of the Seas. In addition to the ship inspections, complimentary adventures are offered daily from April 14-17 and feature full- and half-day excursions. Adventurers can Jet Ski around Old San Juan; explore the jungle on a guided boat tour; take surfing lessons; horseback ride; snorkel; scuba dive; hike; zipline; and more. Several shopping trips include a bit of history as well as retail therapy. The Old San Juan Shopping at Plaza Las Americas takes visitors back in time to discover 500 years of history. Agents visit historic sites such as San Cristobal Fortress and the Governor’s Mansion and then head back to the 21st century at the Plaza Las Americas mall. Agents can also combine the El Yunque Rainforest with shopping at outlet malls or the Camuy Caves with shopping at the Prime Outlets. Rum tasting can also be combined with tours of Old San Juan, as well. Puerto Rico is a perfect jumping-off point for agents to explore the rest of the Caribbean, and ASTA is organizing pre- and post-fam trips for agents attending IDE. From extended hotel stays at resorts such as the Wyndham Rio Mar Beach Resort & Spa for $135 per night to an adventure tour in Jamaica, agents can take advantage of the many offerings that the Caribbean has to offer.