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Archive for May, 2015

First Seatrade Caribbean Cruise Forum a resounding success

London (21 May 2015) The first Seatrade Caribbean Cruise Forum came to a close last week at the Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort, Tobago, with almost 150 delegates from all around the Caribbean attending the conference, for a series of high-level discussions and debates.

Led by senior cruise line executives and key industry figures, the Forum focused on cruise tourism opportunities for the region, port infrastructure, potential for new itineraries and Shorex development. The discussions addressed the importance of sustainability and eco-tourism, which provided an excellent opportunity for audience participation. One to one meetings were also on the agenda, as seven regional destinations were given the unique opportunity of exclusive meetings with leading European cruise lines.

Cruise line executives attending were provided with a tour of the host venue Tobago, gaining a deeper, more intimate knowledge of the region. For many of the executives, this provided a first-time look at the island. Michael Pawlus, director of strategic itinerary planning, Silversea, was impressed with the friendliness and diversity of the island.

Assemblyman Tracy Davidson-Celestine, deputy chief secretary Tobago House of Assembly and secretary Division of Tourism and Transportation is taking a lead role regionally in securing unity, cooperation, and collaboration to promote the benefits of Southern Caribbean cruising together with the Minister of Tourism of Barbados and other key regional leaders. ‘Tobago supports the development of the Sugar Point port project in Barbados as a means to create a strong southern Caribbean homeport that would benefit cruise destination Tobago and other Southern Caribbean destinations. Our team is working diligently to make Tobago a better cruise destination able to accommodate bigger ships with more cruise guests.’

Henry Yaniz, ceo of Newport Maritime was delighted with the success of the event which emulates Tobago’s success in the cruise industry – ‘Last season saw Tobago welcome more than 65,000 cruise passengers, with an 30% increase expected for the 2015/2016 season to nearly 100,000 cruise guests. As preparations are being made to welcome more cruise ships, including the larger ships, enhancements are being made at Scarborough’s 312mtr long pier to accommodate the increased numbers and 50 new tour buses will arrive in time for the next season, along with a proposed extension of the quayside, to provide a covered area for passengers going and returning on tours. The Tobago Division of Tourism & Transportation, together with the key stakeholders, is also launching a progressive training programme for tour guides.’

Despite competition from regions such as China, there was a distinct optimism throughout the entire Forum for the future development of cruising in the southern Caribbean; traditionally a region in the shadow of the more popular northern and western ports. Hugh Riley, secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, spoke of a time of challenge and opportunity for the Caribbean. Calling for better co-operation between the islands, Riley added that each must ensure their uniqueness is highlighted, stressing that ‘when you see one island, you only see one island and not the Caribbean as a whole’.

Vanessa Stephens, Global Events Director for Seatrade commented ‘We are delighted with the response to the first Seatrade Caribbean Cruise Forum held on the beautiful island of Tobago. Almost 150 delegates attended to listen to cruise line executives and industry experts discussing the opportunities for the development of cruise tourism in the region.  We are grateful to the Tobago House of Assembly, Division of Tourism and Transportation for its excellent support and generous hospitality over the two days of the event and for the opportunity it afforded the cruise lines to familiarise themselves with the destination.’

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Barbados tourism sector records double digit growth

BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS. May 27, 2015 – Barbados’ tourism sector broke a 25-year record during the first quarter of 2015 to reach 171,471 long stay arrivals.

BTMI Chairman, Alvin Jemmott, noted that there were record arrivals in each of the first three months of 2015 and extended his congratulations to all industry workers and partners for their steadfast efforts on behalf of the destination.

“This was a very strong winter season. The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has predicted a five per cent increase in long stay arrivals for the region for the entire year and we believe our performance in this first quarter bodes well for us to comfortably exceed that target.”

Jemmott attributed this milestone performance to a number of factors including increased airlift capacity negotiated by the BTMI; healthy economic conditions in key markets, a commitment to developing new source markets, Barbados’ strong reputation among its global partners and the agency’s solid promotional strategies for reaching the travel trade, media and consumers in each market.

CEO, William Griffith, revealed that a comprehensive review effort has begun to ensure that the BTMI’s policies support their new mandate as a private entity.

“I am pleased to say that we have begun the process of updating a number of critical polices in the areas of human resources, marketing and finance in keeping with our commitment to increasing employee engagement and productivity; maximizing our return on marketing investment, and achieving greater levels of fiscal prudence.”

In line with these changes, a comprehensive marketing plan featuring traditional and digital marketing programmes has also been developed to guide the organization in resource allocation and monitoring of its various marketing programmes.

Griffith broke down the performance by market, which showed that arrivals from the UK, USA, Canada, and Caribbean and Latin American grew by 12.9 per cent, 27.7 per cent, 28.4 per cent and 10.6 per cent, respectively. Germany also grew by 23.6 per cent.   These strong performances, including a 17.7 per cent rise in arrivals from ‘Other CARICOM’, overshadowed the 2.4 per cent decline in the Trinidad and Tobago market and the dip in arrivals from ‘Other Europe’ by 27.3 percent.

While the cruise sector declined by 6.1 per cent to 217,139 passengers, there was a welcomed increase in home porting, which sees ships purchases goods and services from local dairy, retail and other suppliers.  There is also a trend being observed with smaller ships being replaced by larger vessels, some with the capacity to carry of over 4,000 passengers.

Griffith added that the island’s total airlift capacity for the May 1 – October 31, 2015 summer period was set to rise by 3.6 per cent, largely driven by additional flights and the use of larger aircraft by the island’s airline partners.

The BTMI CEO went on to project a successful summer period for the island, banking on the fact that “there is increasing alignment between our internal operations and structure, and our global strategic marketing efforts.”

Posted in: 2015 News, Blog, Destination News

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Antigua & Barbuda engages thousands of travel agents at the newest tradeshow for the Caribbean and the Americas

(St. John’s, Antigua) – The Antigua and Barbuda Ministry of Tourism and the Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA) continue to focus on aggressively attracting new business from throughout the region and the Americas to its shores, as the destination attended the Expo de Turismo Internacional (ETI), Tourism Expo in San Juan Puerto Rico from May 13-16, 2015. The destination was represented by Charmaine Spencer and Meserete Uzondu, as part of its regional marketing thrust.

The ETI – Puerto Rico Tourism Expo, being branded the first major international tourism expo in the Caribbean, “is designed to showcase the beauty, sports, nature, adventure and gastronomy experiences available throughout the Caribbean and beyond, bringing together members of the tourism industry from across the globe.’

ETI-Puerto Rico featured pavilions from the Caribbean and beyond, providing tourism boards, hotels, suppliers, tour operators, airlines and others with direct access to 1,000+ travel agents from the U.S., Central & South America, and Europe, and exposing them to new destinations and attractions.

Charmaine Spencer, Marketing Manager (ABTA) said, “The ETI tradeshow provided a superb opportunity to educate thousands of international and regional travel trade professionals, as well as, local consumers about our destination and to invite them to come experience the diversity of Antigua & Barbuda and all that our islands have to offer.”

Antigua & Barbuda was able to directly engage and promote its events, heritage, cultural, and eco-tourism product, tours, attractions and accommodations, to the travel trade community, especially those from new and diverse markets that descended upon the Puerto Rico Convention Centre to be a part of the inaugural event.

“In planning for this event and with input from local and regional organizations such as the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Puerto Rico Hotel & Tourism Association, we are confident that this event has the potential to be a mainstay on the international calendar of tourism events,” said Ingrid I. Rivera Rocafort, Executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism company, organizers of ETI-Puerto Rico.

The four-day event also incorporated an educational component which included workshops from Trip Advisor, Destination Wedding professionals, marketing to the Chinese market, social media training, sales seminars, group meetings, social and cultural events, field trips, destination trainings, keynote addresses and more.

The success of the inaugural event indicates a strong demand for island destinations, like Antigua & Barbuda, and should see this travel show becoming a permanent fixture on the destination’s regional marketing events calendar.

Posted in: 2015 News, Blog, Destination News

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Trinidad & Tobago launches Travel Agent Specialist Program

Port of Spain, Trinidad – May 20, 2015 – Trinidad & Tobago Tourism Development Company Limited (TDC) is pleased to announce the launch of the Trinidad & Tobago Travel Agent Specialist Program. The strategic endeavor includes a comprehensive educational platform that will not only promote awareness and visibility of Trinidad & Tobago’s product to travel trade professionals, but also enable travel trade professionals to become an extension of Trinidad & Tobago’s marketing team in selling the destination.

The program is designed to identify, engage and educate travel trade professionals by covering key components of Trinidad & Tobago’s destination profile – including accommodations, culture, festivals, cuisine and eco adventure – as well as important niche markets, such as multi-generational travel, spa and wellness, romance, diving, destination weddings and honeymoons, birding, soft adventure, and other specialized product offerings. Program participants are then encouraged to record their bookings on the website in order to become eligible for prizes.

All website activity will be monitored in real time, and the agents securing the most bookings to Trinidad & Tobago per month and per quarter throughout the year-long program will be eligible to receive a variety of rewards, from gift cards to FAM trips. Qualifying agents will also receive a personalized full color, printable certificate and accreditation for participating in the program, selecting to receive either four (4) continuing education credits from The Travel Institute or twelve (12) credits from the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA). Local stakeholders will also be sending promotional packages and special offers for inclusion in an e-newsletter sent to travel agents who have successfully completed the program.

“We are extremely pleased to implement this program and partner with travel agents to raise the profile of our destination, while at the same time driving direct sales. The Trinidad & Tobago Travel Agent Specialist Program is a key strategic initiative of the Tourism Development Company for positioning Trinidad & Tobago as a top-of-mind vacation destination in our primary source travel market” noted Warren Solomon, General Manager of Marketing at the Trinidad & Tobago Tourism Development Company.

Tim Grace, principal of the Travel Marketing Network (TTMN), the marketing arm of Trinidad & Tobago’s US marketing and public relations agency of record, Cheryl Andrews Marketing Communications (CAMC), echoed these sentiments:  “The travel trade is a critical link between Trinidad & Tobago and its visitors. This year-round online program and the complementary print initiative will help agents to sell the dual-island nation more efficiently and enable them to target the key niche markets which are so vital to tourism growth.”

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Grenada looks to capture female travellers

(St George’s, Grenada) 20th May 2015 – The warm islands of Grenada will soon become the destination of choice for many female travellers as the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) launches its ‘Grenada Girls Getaway’ promotion. The seven-month promotional strategy that starts on 1st June 2015 offers value-added deals on hotels, tours, and car rentals to two or more women visiting Grenada.

“During some of our recent trade shows in the USA, our travel trade partners requested that we create group travel promotions. Our research also shows us an increasing trend in group travel,” says Ms. Nisha Mc Intyre, GTA’s Marketing Executive.

Millennial females are being specifically targeted for the campaign, given their frequent use of social media, and history of influencing the travel patterns of other generational groups.

The start of the GTA’s Grenada Girls Getaway promotion coincides with the new airlift from American cities.  On Saturday 6th June Delta Air Lines will begin a weekly service from Atlanta and on Thursday 11th June JetBlue Airways will begin a twice-weekly service from New York.

The Grenada Tourism Authority has begun an integrated marketing campaign that uses direct trade and consumer engagements as well as digital media marketing to support the Grenada Girls Getaway promotion.

Interested travellers will be able to signup for the value-added deals via Grenada’s official destination website, www.puregrenada.com.

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Grenada Wins GOLD MEDAL at RHS Chelsea Flower Show with New Design Team

19 May 2015: The Grenada-Cathy John exhibit at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2015 named ‘Pure Grenada’s Rainforest’ has won a Gold Medal. The all-new Show team, led by Grenadian-based designer Cathy John, brought Grenada to life with a fragrant scale representation of the mountainous rainforest and volcanic crater lake at the heart of the island.

Cathy’s design emphasises the rich rainforest ferns and flora typical of Grenada’s Grand Etang National Park – accented with scented spices – with a focus on the sometimes-overlooked star of the island’s interior, its verdant foliage.

Cathy said: “Pure Grenada’s Rainforest depicts Grenada’s mountainous terrain of vibrant green vegetation. Our exhibit promotes Grenada’s extraordinary biodiversity, and showcases the different spices that thrive at different levels of vegetation.”

She added: “Our rainforest, lakes, flowers and other exotic hinterland plants such as golden mature cocoa pods, opening nutmeg pods  – revealing the red mace clinging to the black shell that protects the spicy nutmeg within; cinnamon; cloves; and other spices reveal their intense fragrance to really stand out from the floral displays at the Show.”

The greenery and spices were grown in Grenada by members of the Chelsea team and arranged to Cathy’s design experts ahead of Monday 18 May when the display enthralled Press Day visitors including Dr Johnson Beharry VC – recipient of the highest military decoration for valour in the British and Commonwealth armed forces, who was born in Grenada; and celebrities including designer Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and TV personalities Piers Morgan, Nicholas Parsons and Nicky Chapman.

Cathy said: “We’re delighted that the exhibit, with its bold scale representation and use of Grenada’s famous spices, has been awarded a Gold Medal here in London. My personal inspiration for the Pure Grenada’s Rainforest design comes from my love and respect for the cool, calm serenity of the rainforest and the vital role it plays in the life of my island home. In addition to a providing visitors with a treat for all the senses, the rainforest is the source of our precious water, upon which we all depend.”

She added: “Our forest uniquely features a centrally-located fresh water crater lake in Grand Etang, an area well known for its diverse population of plants, some representing the oldest of its kind in the world, such as the protected Grand Etang fern, only found in that part of the world.”

Sharon Bernstein, Director Grenada Tourism Authority UK & Ireland, said: “Grenada boasts an enthralling natural landscape and the design team has provided visitors to the world’s greatest flower show with an authentic taste of Pure Grenada. The Chelsea Flower Show is truly a world stage and Grenada continues to play a prominent and acclaimed role.”

All connected with the pavilion express their gratitude to the 2015 sponsors and those who offered their time and plant materials.

RHS Chelsea Flower Show remains open to the public until Saturday 23 May 2015. For more information on Grenada, visit www.PureGrenada.com

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Southwest Airlines reveals date for Houston-Belize flight

Belize City, Belize – May 14, 2015 – On Wednesday, May 13th, Southwest Airlines held a press conference in Houston, at the Houston City Hall, where the CEO of the airlines, Garry Kelly, announced that the daily, direct flights to Belize, Mexico and Costa Rica will begin on October 15th, as well as Jamaica and Liberia beginning November 1st. He was joined by the Mayor of Houston, Annise Parker, at a beach theme setting, where future Southwest destinations were present.

A Belize delegation was present for the announcement and “Beach Bash,” which was held after the press conference. In attendance were the Director of Tourism – Mrs. Karen Bevans, Chairman of the Board – Dr. Carla Barnett, Director of Marketing – Ms. Karen Pike, along with representatives of Tropic Air and the Belize Airport Concession.

Travel Trade Manager – Michelle Flowers, and Senior Officer – Deborah Gilharry were there to share information with the public about making Belize their next vacation destination.

The Belize diaspora was invited, along with travel agents in the area.

Tickets can now be purchased on Southwest’s website https://www.southwest.com/. There will be no ticket agent in Belize, therefore, this is the only mode for purchasing tickets for Southwest Airlines flights.

For more information on this flight, please visit the Southwest Airlines website at https://www.southwest.com/.

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