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Monday 15th October 2012
As Antigua and Barbuda continues to gain global recognition as a premier destination for weddings and honeymoons, a weekend of activities promoting “Love in Antigua” kicked off last Friday with the arrival of several speakers, including world renowned wedding and event planner to the stars, Preston Bailey. 
Organized by the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority in conjunction with Caribbean Bride Magazine, a reception was held at the VIP Lounge at VC Bird International Airport to welcome the award-winning designer, TV personality and author, who has elevated the concept of destination weddings.
As one of the pioneers of wedding design for the Sandals brand, and well known for his opulent floral artistry, Bailey was greeted by two students from the Kids Unlimited School, Genesis and Gabrielle Whitlock. They presented him with fresh flowers from Exotic Floral Designs and welcomed him to “The Most Romantic Destination in the Caribbean.”  The welcome party also included Director of Tourism in the US, Derede Samuel-Whitlock, Director of Tourism, Canada, Erica Henry-Jackman and Charmaine Spencer, Marketing Manager at the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority and Chairman Ted Isaac.
Bailey was overwhelmed by the airlift options that make it easy to get to Antigua and Barbuda from the United States. He commented, “It was a breeze getting here and this is one of the key elements that couples look for in planning their destination wedding. I want to use this weekend as an opportunity to get a good feel for the destination, see some of the resorts, meet the people and some of the unique things that Antigua and Barbuda has to offer. I really want to help you bring more business to your country.”
Bailey also noted that the variety of accommodations and attractions offered in Antigua and Barbuda and the ability to host “same day” weddings gives the destination a huge competitive advantage. He advised that these elements should remain prominent in destination promotions.
The celebrity designer was the keynote presenter at a Wedding Seminar at Sandals Grande Resort and Spa on Saturday evening. Despite inclement weather conditions, the forum brought together a diverse group of tourism stakeholders and vendors including event planners, travel agents, tour operators and photographers, many of whom were fans of Bailey and his creative designs.
During his one hour presentation, Panamanian born Bailey, shared his experiences about how he got started in the event design business, providing anecdotes and practical advice from his 30-year career of “translating clients’ vision into awe inspiring reality.” Positioned at the luxury end of the business, Bailey’s who started out as a floral arranger has seen his company grow into a multimillion dollar conglomerate.  He also shared vivid imagery from some of his most exciting wedding design assignments from around the world. 
Bailey fielded questions from the audience about emerging trends and best practices in event marketing, management, client services and social media. The event ended with a book signing ceremony that featured Bailey’s three books and promoted his upcoming book “All About Business” set for release in early 2013.
According to Erica Henry-Jackman, Director of Tourism for Canada, “We are always looking to strengthen our tourism product and the wedding and honeymoon business is one of the resilient sectors that seems to be “recession proof.”  Given his expertise, Preston Bailey was able to provide practical advice on how to maintain our competitive edge in this important niche. Bailey’s message was well received by local stakeholders and we hope that his advice will be incorporated into our marketing strategies to help enhance and strengthen our tourism product.”
On Sunday Preston attended “Bride Villa”, the ultimate Wedding and Romance Expo at The Copper and Lumber Store/Hotel. The event featured wedding and honeymoon service providers including travel agents, hotels, caterers, event planners, photographers and florists. Intended to be the largest bridal outdoor bridal showcase in Antigua and Barbuda the event was affected by inclement weather.

Bailey was however, able to attend the FIFA match on Friday night and had a chance to see Antigua and Barbuda’s Benna Boys play the USA. He also had an opportunity to meet Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer and Sir Vivian Richards.


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