TOBAGO is being marketed as a destination for weddings and romance.

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Last week, local stakeholders and vendors in this burgeoning niche experienced an educational, inspirational and transformative seminar called Bride Villa.

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Bride Villa was a unique event produced by Caribbean Bride Magazine on behalf of the Tobago Tourism Agency Limited (TTAL) held last week, at the Mount Irvine Bay Resort, Tobago.

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The event was strategically developed to provide opportunities for local stakeholders to capitalise on the destination weddings and honeymoons niche, and to raise the profile of Tobago as a premier romance destination.

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The seminar included interactive presentations by international industry experts on various topics – from digital marketing, to service excellence and global trends in the wedding industry – that addressed the gaps the TTAL identified in selling the destination internationally

The closing ceremony of Bride Villa saw 67 participants receive certificates of accreditation from the CB Academy as certified destination wedding vendors

They represented almost every category of services related to the wedding and romance tourism niche, including accommodation owners, decorators, event planners, photographers, caterers and more

Bride Villa not only allowed these vendors to hone their craft through the CB Academy training, but allowed for networking between service providers to foster greater collaboration in local efforts to make Tobago globally competitive in the destination wedding market

TTAL CEO Louis Lewis emphasised the importance of unity within the industry while addressing the audience at the closing ceremony

Lewis said, “One of the things we have to be very mindful of is that the saying ‘no man is an island’ really resonates among wedding planners and vendors in this niche. In a small space like ours, collaboration is really the key. There is intrinsic value in collaboration among members of the private sector in pursuing the international wedding and romance market, and to see industry growth become a reality.”

Andrea Lown, a digital marketing expert who presented on “Earning a Bride’s Trust Online” during the seminar, echoed these sentiments, saying: “If we all don’t thrive, the destination doesn’t thrive. We need to support each other, credit each other and recommend each other. Working together as a collective would get us much further than fighting over scraps.”

The Bride Villa seminar will be followed up by other collaborative initiatives by TTAL, as they strive to work together with local stakeholders in the weddings and romance niche. Vendors who attended the seminar will be privy to follow up consultations to assist in developing their businesses. The feedback received by the agency from attendees will also be used to craft bespoke opportunities for stakeholders in the future

JoAnne Brown, the leading wedding planner in the Cayman Islands with more than 25 years’ experience in producing events for Hollywood celebrities, British royalty and other high profile clients, enthused about the beauty and uniqueness of Tobago during her presentation on “Trends in the Destination Wedding Industry”. She expressed her optimism about the potential the island has to become a leading wedding and romance destination in the Caribbean

Tobago has the soul and people that would make destination brides want to be here,” she said. “There is absolutely no question in my mind.”