CTO News

Archive for May, 2013

Sustainable Tourism Youth Programme Attracts New Interest

NEW YORK, NY (24 May, 2013) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO)’s sustainable tourism youth programme is attracting the attention of a growing number of Caribbean post-secondary schools.

Two regional tertiary institutions   – the College of the Bahamas (COB) and University of the West Indies-Mona Campus are first time participants in the CTO’s Students’ Colloquium which forms part of the programme for Caribbean Week in New York. They, along with five other universities, will seek to dethrone the reigning champions, Monroe College.

The colloquium – now in its third year – is a contest among the students who are challenged to present well-researched, practical and financially viable sustainable tourism projects. Dubbed “A Forum for Rising Stars in Caribbean Tourism,” it attracts students enrolled in tourism and hospitality programmes, as well as other university/college majors, who have a passion for the Caribbean and are desirous of making a contribution to the region’s development in a sustainable way.

A record eight schools will participate in this year’s contest, three more than last year and two higher than the six which took part in the inaugural contest in 2011. The other participating institutions are  the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College, the Trinidad & Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute; University of New Haven (winners of the inaugural contest), the              University of Technology Jamaica and the University of the West Indies Centre for Hotel & Tourism Management in the Bahamas.

“It’s a brand new year, the TCI Community College tourism team is excited, eager and ready for friendly rivalry, camaraderie and prospective future partnerships with our counterparts  in  this year’s CTO student colloquium. Let the challenge begin!” said Michelle Hosten, lecturer at the TCI Community College.

The competitors will receive words of encouragement from Earlston McPhee, the director of sustainable tourism at Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. Mr. McPhee will stress the need for the students, particularly those who intend to work towards the development of Caribbean tourism, to believe in themselves, the Caribbean tourism product and the region’s ability to compete at a high level among the world’s best destinations.

The Students’ Colloquium takes place on Wednesday 4 June from 1:30 P.M to 4:00 P.M. at the New Yorker Hotel, 481 8th Avenue, New York.  The winners will receive four iPads from Cititech Solutions, a technology company which provides technological support for small, medium-sized and large businesses. Cititech is a CTO Allied member. The second place gets four Kindle Fires from David Williams Funeral Service, a family -owned funeral home; while the school placing third receives four iPod Touches courtesy Butterfly By Design, a premier experiential event planning and design boutique.

Caribbean Week in New York, a celebration of the sights, sounds and vacation attributes of the Caribbean, takes place from 1 to 8 June with a series of consumer and travel industry events. The television and film star, Tamara Tunie, is partnering with CTO for the Week. Perhaps best known as the “Medical Examiner, Melinda Warner” on NBC’s long-running top-rated series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and more recently in Paramount’s Oscar nominated, Flight, with co-star Denzel Washington, Ms. Tunie will engage the media in America’s most populous city as the official spokesperson for the event.

For the complete list of activities for Caribbean Week in New York and for information on how to participate, visit www.caribbeanweekny.com or call  the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s New York office at (212) 635-9530.

Caribbean Week in New York is supported by American Express, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Association of Travel Marketing Executives (ATME),  the Atrebor Group, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Butterfly By Design, Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI), Cayman Islands, Caribbean Airlines,  Cititech Solutions, Departures, David Williams Funeral Service, Dominica, El Dorado, the Empire State Building, Face of Fashion, Food & Wine, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Hardbeat Communications, Hyatt Resorts – Caribbean,  Jamaica, Jewel Resorts, Laura Davidson Public Relations, MarryCaribbean.com, Martinique, Nassau, Paradise Island, Puerto Rico, Quinn & Company, Sandals Resorts International, St Eustatius,  St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Martin/St. Maarteen, St. Vincent & the Grenadines; Travel + Leisure, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos Islands and the United States Virgin Islands.

About the Caribbean Tourism Organization

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), with headquarters in Barbados and offices in New York and London, is the Caribbean’s tourism development agency comprising membership of over 30 countries and territories including Dutch, English, French and Spanish, as well as a myriad of private sector allied members. The CTO’s vision is to position the Caribbean as the most desirable, year round, warm weather destination by 2017, and its purpose is Leading Sustainable Tourism – One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean.

Among the benefits to its members the organization provides specialized support and technical assistance in sustainable tourism development, marketing, communications, advocacy, human resource development, research and information technology.

In addition the CTO, in partnership with the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, jointly and equally owns the Caribbean Tourism Development Company, a marketing and business development entity dedicated to promoting the Caribbean brand worldwide.

The CTO’s Headquarters is located at Baobab Tower, Warrens, St. Michael, Barbados BB 22026; Tel: (246) 427-5242; Fax: (246) 429-3065; E-mail: [email protected]

The CTO’s New York office is located at 80 Broad St., Suite 3302, New York, NY 10004, USA: Tel: (212) 635-9530; Fax: (212) 635-9511; E-mail: [email protected];

The CTO’s London office is located at The Quadrant, Richmond, Surrey TW9 1BP, England. Tel: 011 44 208 948 0057; Fax: 011 44 208 948 0067; E-mail: [email protected];

For more information on the Caribbean Tourism Organization please visit www.OneCaribbean.org.

Get the latest CTO updates on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ctotourism .

Connect with CTO on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CaribbeanTourismOrganization.

Posted in: 2013 News, Caribbean Week

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State of the Industry Report ~ Hon. Beverly Nicholson-Doty Chairman, CTO, Feb. 14, 2013

The state of Caribbean tourism gives us reason to be optimistic. This optimism is based on the positive signs of growth following earlier down years. We are optimistic because we see arrival numbers rising, particularly out of North America; we see hotel revenues moving in the right direction, albeit with moderate acceleration and we see tourist spend on the increase.

All the signs suggest Caribbean tourism is rallying. The region as a whole has regained ground lost in the heat of the global economic depression in 2008/2009. Last year, the Caribbean welcomed nearly 25 million tourists, that’s 5.4 per cent more than in 2011 and the largest number of stayover visitors in five years. This rate of growth outpaced the rest of the world which saw arrivals increase by four per cent.

However, amidst these positive signs is the stark reality that some of our member countries are still hard pressed to recover, particularly those that rely heavily on the British market. This is because the UK’s travelling population continues to be daunted by an ailing economy and further applications of the onerous Air Passenger Duty.

At the same time, cruise tourism has been flat region-wide for each of the last three years. Intra-regional shifting of cruise schedules resulted in fairly significant increases in the northern Caribbean activity offset by reductions in that of the south.

The region’s performance in 2012 must be seen in context of the wider global situation. Debilitating effects of the world economic crisis which led to caution and austerity on the part of governments and consumers alike, still linger. These have manifested themselves in lower personal discretionary income and lower aggregate visitor spending.

In the major advanced economies weak growth, high unemployment, financial sector fragility and fiscal austerity are still major concerns which dampened economic performance in 2012 and the outlook for 2013. The global economy is still pressured in the aftermath of the crisis of 2008-2009. However, international tourism proved resilient in 2012. The World Tourism Organization, the UNWTO, reported that over one billion international tourists travelled the world by the end of the year- 36 million more than in 2011.

CARICOM PERFORMANCE

Our statistics show that tourism within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries is bouncing back, but has not kept pace with the wider region. Overall the CARICOM countries recorded a modest 1.9 per cent rise for the year. This was influenced by a 0.4 per cent decline in the OECS countries struggling with falling British and intra-regional travel.

Dutch Caribbean

On the other hand, the group of Dutch Caribbean countries recovered moderately well in 2012, performing slightly above the wider Caribbean. The grouping recorded a 5.6 per cent increase over 2011 due to rising activity in all the reporting countries. This was largely determined by the return of much of the business from the South American market, a strong one for Curacao and Aruba, two major players in this group.

Spanish Speaking Caribbean  

The performance of the Spanish speaking Caribbean can be described as buoyant. This group sustained the positive growth in arrivals experience over the last five years, recording a 6 per cent increase last year. Mexico’s Caribbean region was the chief contributor to this multi-year performance, having climbed by double digits in 2010, thereby regaining much of the ground lost in the wake of swine flu a year earlier.

Hotels in Recovery

As I stated earlier, hotel performance continues to show good progress as it moves in a positive direction and has quickened a bit on previous years. For the second time in four years all four key hotel performance indicators were positive. The overall occupancy for the Caribbean increased by 7.1 per cent; average daily rate went up 4.8 per cent and total room revenues by 8.9 per cent. Revenue per available room also rose by 12.4 per cent. Should these trends continue, it certainly augurs well for 2013.

US Market bounced back

All indications are that Americans are coming back to the Caribbean in their customary numbers. US arrivals went up 4.1 per cent in 2012 when compared to 2011, holding steady with the pre-recession levels of five years earlier. US numbers increased in all of the reporting countries.

Canadians Continue to travel

Of all our major markets, Canadian arrivals showed the greatest buoyancy throughout the challenges of the recessionary period. In fact, arrivals from Canada have continued to move upward over the past five years. Arrivals went up by 5.9 per cent in this market in 2012. There was also no evidence of falling average visitor spending on the part of the Canadians.

UK Performance

The numbers from the UK suggest that business from this very important market for several CTO member countries remain depressed. A total of one million land-based visitors came from the UK to the Caribbean last year, down from 1.1 million in 2011. That’s a steep drop of 10 per cent. The number has declined significantly in the past three years in the backdrop of weak European economies and currently high airfares precipitated by substantial increases in Air Passenger Duty in the last two years.

Intra-Caribbean Visitation sluggish

Travel by Caribbean residents within the region as a whole increased by three per cent last year, a sign that intra-Caribbean visitation is sluggish. However, this modest improvement in travel was not shared by our Eastern Caribbean members and ‘other Commonwealth Caribbean’ destinations, many of which saw declining traffic from their respective neighbours.

US Caribbean Territories did well

Like the Spanish speaking Caribbean, the US-Caribbean territories did well in 2012, recording positive growth of 6.8 per cent. These countries out-performed other groupings, doubtlessly benefiting from the renewed travel activity by mainland Americans.

Visitor Spending is Creeping Up

An encouraging sign for CTO member countries was the fact that visitor spending was creeping up. Nearly 27 and-a-half  billion dollars was spent by visitors to the Caribbean in 2012, 3.6 per cent more than the previous year and the third successive year of increase. This marks a return of aggregate spending by visitors to the pre-recession level.

Caribbean Tourism Outlook 2013

It is clear that the US and Canadian markets are carrying the sway and are expected to continue to perform well in terms of arrivals in 2013 as airlines continue to manage airlift and airfares in consonance with variable consumer demand. Travellers are still expected to hold a tight purse in light of continued uncertainty in their home economies and globally. UK travel to the region as a whole is expected to improve marginally at best, although as customary some countries, especially in the Eastern Caribbean, will benefit more than others from this market.

In a bid to stay afloat, hotels and other tourism service providers in the Caribbean will need to maintain the most attractive offers to further boost their rising levels of occupancy and general profitability in light of continued consumer austerity.

Barring any international or regional unforeseen economic or social trauma in 2013, the indicators of Caribbean tourism performance should continue to move in a positive direction. Visitor traffic to the region is expected to increase by another four per cent to five per cent in 2013.

Posted in: 2013 News, Blog, Corporate News

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CTO Aviation Task Force Recommends Single Visa Regime to Enhance Visitor Experience in Member Countries

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (11 Feb 2013) –  The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Aviation Task Force – a highly focused committee established to facilitate air transportation into and throughout the Caribbean and to enhance airlift – has recommended a review of visa regimes in member countries in order to improve the visitor experience.

The task force is to recommend to its membership a system similar to the Europe’s Schengen visa programme where visitors who are cleared at the initial port of entry can continue travelling seamlessly throughout most of the European Union.
The decision came out of a recent meeting of the CTO Aviation Task Force held at the Royal Antiguan Hotel in St John’s, Antigua to review issues affecting intra-regional travel and make recommendations for increasing consumer demand.

The group agreed that full clearance at the first port of entry was necessary to ensure an improved cross regional experience by visitors. It was agreed that the sub-regional grouping, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, (OECS) should be used as a model for such a single visa regime. The OECS is in the process of establishing a single economic space and is expected to implement full clearance at the first point of entry into the sub-group. The CTO Aviation Task Force agreed that this best practice would be reviewed after its implementation for possible replication across the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) region and beyond.

In addition to a single visa regime, the Task Force is recommending a standardized entry and exit card– otherwise called immigration or ED card – across the Caribbean. This,would help reduce airlines’ costs and improve customer service at Caribbean airports. Again, the OECS, which is expected to introduce the use of one common ED card, will be used as a model.

Other recommendations include an analysis of the impact of taxes and fees on the cost of regional air travel and a more holistic approach towards air travel revenue; including a possible ticket tax rebate when a traveller starts and ends the journey in another destination of the same domestic space. The task force also identified an urgent need to end secondary screening for intra-regional passengers who are in transit since the current practice diminishes the overall travellers’ experience.
Also on the Aviation Task Force agenda were issues related to the CARICOM Multilateral Air Services Agreement, open skies, and other regulations and restrictions facing airlines serving the Caribbean.

The Antigua meeting was attended by senior representatives of air and seaport authorities, regional airlines, regulatory bodies, aviation consultants, policy-makers and tourism professionals from CTO member countries and the international community. It was jointly chaired by the CTO Chairman, Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty of the US Virgin Islands and CTO past Chairman Ricky Skerritt, Minister of International Transport of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Posted in: 2013 News, Aviation Task Force, Blog

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CTO to Arrange Meetings with Regional Ministries & Technical Officials to Tackle Aviation Issues

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (17 Dec, 2012) –  The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) will lead a mission in the New Year to meet with top ministerial officials and technical personnel in its member countries to seek their assistance in the advancement of  better intra-regional air links to help boost tourism in the region.

This was one of several recommendations coming out of the inaugural meeting of the CTO Aviation Task Force which took place at the regional tourism development agency’s headquarters in Barbados recently.

The recently appointed CTO Chairman, the USVI Tourism Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty, reported a successful inaugural meeting which discussed the cost of intra-regional travel, the economic impact of the declines in travel, improving the ease of passenger movement, and launching actions to improve the efficiency of Caribbean aviation.  The meeting was jointly chaired by Commissioner Nicholson-Doty and CTO past chairman Ricky Skerritt, Minister of Tourism and International Transport of St. Kitts and Nevis.

“We had an excellent first meeting and we are confident that CTO’s leadership in this area will be critical to reviving growth in intra-regional travel which has declined seriously in recent years,” the CTO chairman said.

The Aviation Committee discussed the San Juan Accord – a memorandum on the regional air transport sector that was agreed by CTO members in 2007 – as well as other  important issues such as minimum revenue guarantees, communication among regional carriers, “open skies” agreements, government taxes and fees, fuel costs, visa restrictions, passenger security-screening arrangements, airlift capacity and the dependency of local hotels on the intra-regional market.

Another key item addressed was American Eagle’s possible departure from the San Juan hub in 2013 and both the opportunities and challenges this presents, especially for destinations in the Eastern Caribbean which depend on this commuter service.

Among other recommendations, the Committee proposed a meeting between airline and airport operators within the first few weeks of the New Year and a region-wide meeting of transportation ministers and commissioners in the first quarter of 2013.
The composition of the Committee reflects technical, regulatory and policy-making experience and has public/private sector representation from tourism professionals, accommodations, airlines, airports and aviation consultants.

EDITORS NOTE

The following are the initial members of the CTO Aviation Committee:

Richard Skerritt, Minister of Tourism & International Transport, St. Kitts and Nevis, Co-Chair
Jaime Lopez Diaz, Chief Development Officer of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce, Government of Puerto Rico, Co-Chair
Beverly Nicholson-Doty, Chairman, CTO Council of Ministers; & Commissioner of Tourism, United States Virgin Islands
Brian Challenger, Aviation Consultant to the Government of Antigua & Barbuda
Donald McPhail, Director, Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority
Elizabeth Scotton, Chief Commercial Officer, Sangster International Airport, Jamaica
Dayanand Birju, General Manager, Airports Authority, Trinidad & Tobago
Neville Boxill, Aviation Consultant, Barbados Tourism Authority
Pauline Yearwood, Deputy Programme Manager, Transportation, CARICOM Secretariat
Josef Forstmayr, Chairman, Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association
Michael Lum, Air Service Strategy and Development Consultant, Sixel Aviation Consulting
Ian Bertrand, Principal, El Perial Aviation Consulting
Colin Jones, Regional Representative, International Air Transport Association
Hugh Riley, Secretary General, Caribbean Tourism Organization

Posted in: 2012 News, Aviation Task Force, Blog

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Caribbean Tourism Organization Names Aviation Committee

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — Nov. 13, 2012 – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the international agency responsible for leading the development of Caribbean tourism, has announced a highly focused CTO Aviation Committee to facilitate air transportation into and throughout the Caribbean and to enhance airlift. Particular emphasis will be placed on CTO member-countries.

The committee is being co-chaired by the former CTO chairman, Sen. Ricky Skerritt, who is minister of tourism and international transport of St Kitts and Nevis. The composition of the committee reflects technical, regulatory and policy-making experience and has public/private sector representation from tourism professionals, accommodations, airlines, airports and aviation consultancies.

During her inaugural news conference at the CTO State of the Industry Conference in St Kitts on 12 October, the incoming chairman, Beverly Nicholson-Doty, the US Virgin Islands’ commissioner of tourism, announced her intention to establish this committee within 30 days.

Nicholson-Doty and the CTO secretariat have been working closely since then to bring together some of the region’s most creative minds to form the committee.

“The CTO recognizes that air transportation is crucial to the success of Caribbean tourism and it is imperative that we seek convenient, affordable and reliable air service if we are to realize our vision of positioning the Caribbean as the world’s most desirable, year round, warm weather destination in five years,” the CTO chairman said.

The CTO Aviation Committee is charged with a number of responsibilities, including the development and implementation of strategies for increasing intra-Caribbean tourism; examining the volume and potential of air service into and within the Caribbean; reviewing the status of regulations governing air transportation to and within the region and encouraging and facilitating the establishment of practices and procedures that ease the movement of passengers to and throughout the region.

In addition, the committee will encourage and develop relationships between carriers, regulators, airport authorities, customs, immigration, security and other relevant entities, with a view to removing barriers to cooperation; review aviation taxation and related fees and make recommendations where necessary;

Intra-regional travel, in particular, air access, was a major talking point at last month’s State of the Industry Conference, with presentations from American Airlines, British Airways and LIAT all aimed at identifying solutions to the challenges facing air transportation into and within the Caribbean.

Posted in: 2012 News, Aviation Task Force, Blog

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CTO Celebrates Region’s Olympic Success

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the region’s tourism development agency, joins the rest of the Caribbean in celebrating our athletes’ success in the 2012 Olympics. We are particularly proud of the achievements of Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, who became the first woman in 16 years to successfully defend the 100 metres title, and Usain Bolt, who took another giant step on his journey to being a legend, by retaining his 100 metres title in an Olympic record.

Their feat, together with the silver medal won by Yohan Blake, also of Jamaica, is even more satisfying as it comes at a time when Jamaica is celebrating its 50th anniversary of independence.  It has also strengthened Jamaica’s position as the world’s top track and field nation – an amazing accomplishment for a young nation of fewer than three million people.

We join the region in celebrating the success of Kirani James, the Grenadian teen whose win in the 400 metres has warmed our hearts.  We honour silver medallist, Santos Luguelin of the Dominican Republic and bronze medallist, Gordon Lalonde of Trinidad and Tobago, who, together with Kirani, gave the Caribbean a clean sweep in the 400.

We salute too, Cuba’s Yarisley Silva, who captured silver in the pole vault; Idalys Ortiz  (gold ), Yanet Bermoy Acosta (silver) and Asley Gonzalez (silver), all in judo;  silver medallist Ivan Cambar Rodriguez in weightlifting; and Mijain Lopez Nunez who won gold in Greco-Roman wrestling; the Dominican Republic’s Felix Sanchez who won gold in the 400 metres hurdles; and Venezuela’s Ruben Limardo Gascon’s gold in fencing.

They all have made their countries and our region proud. The Caribbean has produced some exceptional sports persons over the past several decades, and these ambassadors continue to represent us well.
Over the remaining days of these Olympics, there’s high expectation that the Caribbean athletes will continue to do well, will wow the world, and will win more medals. We will cheer them along, even from a distance.

So Happy 50th Jamaica and congratulations to all our athletes. We celebrate your success.

Posted in: 2012 News, Blog, Corporate News

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Trinidad and Tobago to host 14th Sustainable Tourism Conference

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (18 April, 2012) – Trinidad and Tobago will host the next Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) conference on Sustainable Tourism Development in 2013, the CTO has announced.

In a symbolic passing of the “baton”, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Tourism, Raye Sandy, received the CTO Sustainable Tourism Mahogany Scroll from Guyana’s Tourism Minister, the Honorable Irfaan Ali at the closing of STC-13 on Wednesday night, confirming Trinidad and Tobago as host of the 14th Annual Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development (STC-14).

“We are truly honored to host STC-14 in Trinidad and Tobago,” said Raye Sandy. “We look forward to hosting a varied conference that builds on the learnings of STC-13 and showcases Trinidad and Tobago’s sustainable tourism product.”

The CTO, organizer of the annual conference on sustainability in the Caribbean, will begin discussions soon with Port of Spain around a suitable conference date, which will be announced in the coming months. Work is also expected to begin on a conference programme shortly.

Trinidad hosted the second STC in April 1998, while STC-7 was held in Tobago in April 2009.

STC-13, held in Guyana, ran from 14-18 April at the Guyana Conference Centre in. Over 300 delegates – including tourism industry officials and the media – participated in a series of seminars, workshops and study tours aimed at setting the foundation on which to develop a world class sustainable tourism product in the region and tackle common sustainability issues in the travel industry.

The 13th Annual Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development was organized by the CTO in collaboration with the Guyana Tourism Authority.
For media enquiries please contact Johnson Johnrose at the Caribbean Tourism Organization, [email protected] / (246) 427-5242

Posted in: 2012 News, Blog, STC

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