A consortium of nine Roatan and two US-based investors has banded together to pool resources to attract more big-spending international visitors to the island.
The Roatan Tourism & Investment Bureau, incorporated earlier this year, plans to use advertising, a glossy travel guide and a website, complete with booking engine, to enhance the Roatan “brand” as a premier Caribbean tourism destination. The effort was born largely out of frustration with Honduras’s existing tourism promotion bodies.
The website, which at press time was expected to “go live” at the end of September, will incorporate an online booking engine through which prospective visitors will be able to purchase flights, accommodations, tours and activities from one location. Ilias Scott, who has been working on putting the project together, described it as an Expedia for Roatan, except he said it would not charge the excessive commissions Expedia exacts from hotels and tour providers.
The bureau will also target advertising at cruise ship visitors, who Scott said often don’t even know where they are when they debark on Roatan, since they are usuallly making a several-day circuit of the Caribbean. One idea is to place billboards in strategic locations to inform such visitors that they are only two-hours flight from the US mainland, should they like what they see and wish to come back.
Of course, taking full advantage of that physical proximity to the US will require more and cheaper direct flights. A check of travel websites September 21 found the cheapest flight to Roatan from the US for Thanksgiving week (November 17-25) was the maiden American Airlines flight from Miami, at $535 round trip. One could fly to Nassau and back for half that, and flights to Cancun or Montego Bay were also available for less. The United flight from Houston was advertised at $803. A New Yorker could fly to London or Paris and back for less than that. The Delta flight from Atlanta was priced at $1,350. [/private]