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Archive for July, 2015

Belize Tourism Board hosts annual Tourism Industry Conference

Belize City, Belize – July 30, 2015 – The Belize Tourism Board will be hosting its annual Tourism Industry Conference on August 1st, 2015. The venue is set in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, at Fido’s Courtyard.

The purpose of the event is to update industry partners about the tourism accomplishments over the past year in the “Year in Review”, and inform on strategies implemented for the ‘Year Forward’. This year’s event will have a slight twist from the usual setting, as there will be two informative sessions administered by local and international panelists. The topics and panelists are listed below:

a) Service Excellence: A Silent Seller – focused on hospitality and customer service

  • Importance in the Caribbean- Dr. Emil Lee- President of Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association
  • Importance of Service Excellence in Wedding Destination- Mrs. Jacqueline Johnson- President of Global Bridal Group
  • Importance of Training in Service Excellence – Carlos Cuellar Chair of Tourism & Business Studies, Stann Creek Ecumenical College

Moderator- Javier Gutierrez– Manager of Banyan Bay and Hospitality trainer

b) Digital Marketing- focused on branding, social media, and online mediums of marketing

  • How to bridge offline and online media: QR Codes- Ms. Tanya Mc Nab from Mc Nab Designs
  • Digital Domination: A precursor on working the cursor for your brand- Mr. David Fiedler- Olson International
  • Importance of Digital Marketing to Cruise Passengers- Allison Smith Media and Marketing Manager for Norwegian Cruise Line

 Moderator- Roberto Harrison Marketing Manager Chaa Cree

The event is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. A boat will be leaving Belize City from San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi terminal at 7:00 a.m. and leaves San Pedro to return at 3:30 p.m. on August 1st, 2015. The boat will stop in Caye Caulker both ways. Attire is business casual and you are asked to RSVP with Neuton Garcia at 227-4240 or [email protected]


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New airline carrier to Belize

Belize City, Belize – July 29, 2015 – Today, a press conference was held at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel, announcing airline services to Belize via Copa Airlines.

Starting December 8th, 2015 Copa airlines will be offering 2 weekly flights to Belize City from Hub de la Americas Panama City, Panama. With this new addition, Copa Airlines will now expand its route to 75 cities and 31 countries in North, Central, South and the Caribbean with Belize being the 7th in Central America.

With the addition of Belize, they are now covering all of Central America, strengthening their regional leadership.

Panama City, Panama. July 29th, 2015
“For Copa Airlines it is with much joy that we announce this new destination with which we consolidate our leadership in the region, strengthen our existing routes while at the same time allowing us to offer better connectivity and world class service to all of Central America, from Hub de las Americas, in Panama. The connectivity will open enormous opportunities for tourism and commercial development for this interesting Caribbean country, as well as allowing for tourist from the same region to have the opportunity to enjoy all the tourism and commercial strengths Belize has to offer”

Said Pedro Heilbron, Executive president for Copa Airlines.

Flight CM 281 will leave Belize City Tuesdays and Fridays at 2:17 p.m., arriving at ‘Hub de las Americas’ at the Tocumen International Airport  in Panama City at 5:34 p.m. The return flight, CM 280, will leave Panama Tuesdays and Fridays at 11:29 a.m. arriving in Belize at 12:52 midday. All flights are local time and the flight time is approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes.

For its direct flight to Belize, Copa will be operating a modern Embraer 190 aircraft with capacity for 94 passengers, 10 in Executive Class and 84 in the main cabin. This aircraft is characterized for having 2 seats in each side of the isle without a center seat, which makes it more attractive and comfortable for passengers.

From Hub de las Americas in Panama, Copa airlines offers more international flights than any other airline with a center of operations in this continent. The flight from Belize to Panama was programmed to provide convenient connection to Sao Paulo, Brazil; San Jose, Costa Rica; Bogota, Cartagena and Medellin in Colombia; Santiago de Chile, Chile; Quito and Guayaquil in Ecuador; Managua, Nicaragua; Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago; Havana, Cuba; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Lima, Peru. The passengers in transit will not need to pass through immigration or wait in a customs line, and their luggage will be checked at their final destination. In addition, Belizeans will have access to the top 5 biggest shopping malls in Latin America, a “Stop Over” two nights free of charge in Panama, and easier access to the Caribbean and Latin America for business and vacation.

“I must reiterate how important this partnership is, as COPA will not only supply significant potential markets for Belize, but also offer excellent and competitive linkages to the Caribbean, Central and especially to the South American market. Currently, the latter represents less than 5% of overnight tourist arrivals to Belize, with the biggest barrier being limited accessibility. As a result, and in keeping with our initiation of strategic and targeted marketing efforts in South America, this partnership could not come at a more opportune time”.

Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr. – Minister of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation.

For more information on Copa Airlines, please contact Marketing and Public Relations Manager, Noriko Gamero.

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Nutmeg Princess comes alive at the Underwater Sculpture Park

(St. George’s, Grenada) 21st July 2015 – The Nutmeg Princess has been added to the world’s first underwater sculpture park at Moliniere Bay in Grenada. The statue depicts Grenada’s first fairy tale princess emerging from a large nutmeg pod, reaching to the heavens with a handful of Grenada’s most famed spice, the nutmeg. The 11-foot tall sculpture was inspired by the 1992 book The Nutmeg Princess by Grenadian author/playwright Richardo Keens-Douglas and designed by artist Lene Kilde.

“I am humbled. Seeing the sculpture of the Nutmeg Princess descend into the water made me feel like a child reading the book all over again! It is an honour to know that something so Grenadian and enchanting now has a home at a beautiful underwater park,” remarked Richardo Keens-Douglas.

The Nutmeg Princess has since been republished over six times, has been scripted into a play, and has recently been included in Canada’s top 100 books for children of all time. In the story, the princess is a positive character who represented the land. Her motto being “If you believe in yourself all things are possible.”

This iconic statue now joins nearly one hundred (100) sculptures at the underwater sculpture park that was developed in 2007. The park is an artificial reef that forms a substrate for the growth of marine life. Strategically placed within a Marine Protected Area, this marine gallery can be seen by snorkelling, diving and viewing from a glass bottom boat.

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Harbour Island wins “Best Island in the Caribbean” in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards 2015

NASSAU, BAHAMAS, JULY 9, 2015……Harbour Island, Bahamas, has won top honors as Best Island in the Caribbean in the prestigious Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards 2015. Harbour Island was voted “Best Island in the Caribbean” by the publication’s most discerning travelers, who rated their experiences in the annual World’s Best Awards 2015 readers’ survey.  This is the second time that Harbour Island has received this influential award.

“We are thrilled to receive this impressive award, a fitting tribute to this lovely island that was once the capital of the Bahamas,” said Joy Ann Jibrilu, Director General of Tourism for The Bahamas.  “We invite everyone to discover the magical pink sand beaches, secluded coves and gorgeous coral reefs of this island treasure, and enjoy the unique experiences that so impressed Travel + Leisure’s global travelers.”

For the last 20 years, the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards has been the travel industry’s leading barometer of the places and companies that are satisfying the most passionate and sophisticated travelers in the U.S.

According to Travel + Leisure Editor Nathan Lump, “The Awards showcase a widely changed travel landscape, one in which exotic destinations, intimate hotels, and one-of-a-kind experiences stand out from the crowd—the preferences of individuals who have been all around the world and are seeking out ever more distinctive travel options.”

The complete survey results are featured in the August issue of Travel + Leisure, which goes on sale on newsstands July 17.

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Saint Lucia welcomes new United service from Chicago starting December

Saint Lucia (July 13, 2015) – With visitors arriving at a record pace from the U.S. – showing a year-to-date increase of 9 percent over 2014 – Saint Lucia will welcome additional winter season flights as United Airlines launches inaugural non-stop service from Chicago. Commencing December 19, 2015, the weekly service departs Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) for Saint Lucia’s Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) every Saturday through to April 9, 2016.

“The expanded partnership with United signifies the first non-stop regularly scheduled service between the two destinations, making Saint Lucia even more accessible for travelers. The new flights connect major gateways in the Midwestern United States and provide added convenience for connections with a number of new markets,” said Louis Lewis, Director of Tourism for the Saint Lucia Tourist Board.

“We are delighted to be announcing new service to Saint Lucia from Chicago and an additional flight from Newark,” said Director of Leisure Sales for United Airlines, Vic Kerckhoff. “Our increased seasonal services will give travelers more flexibility and more choice when flying to the island.”

Operated using Boeing 737 aircraft with capacity ranging from 118 to 179 seats, flights will depart O’Hare International Airport on Saturdays at 8:20 am, arriving at Hewanorra at 3:50 pm; return flights on Saturdays will depart Saint Lucia at 3:48 pm and are scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 8:03 pm.

United Airlines will also launch additional flight service from New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to Hewanorra International Airport (UVF) departing Sundays at 9:00 am and arriving to UVF at 2:45 pm. The new service will commence on Sunday, December 20, 2015 up to May 1, 2016. The initial United flight from Newark to Saint Lucia began on July 13, 2013.

Flights are now bookable through United Airlines at http://www.united.com/.

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Latest accolades, initiatives, airlift and property developments in the British Virgin Islands

TORTOLA, B.V.I (July 9, 2015) — The British Virgin Islands Tourist Board (BVITB) is excited to share news that top-ranks of the 2015 reader’s survey, “World’s Best Awards,” from Travel + Leisure were awarded to Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda, Scrub Island Resort & Spa, and Rosewood Little Dix Bay. Jost Van Dyke was awarded the No. 2 spot while Virgin Gorda followed in the No. 3 ranking this year for Top Islands in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Bahamas. These spots were awarded based on readers’ rankings of natural attractions, beaches, activities, sites, restaurants, food, people, friendliness, and value.

Additionally, Scrub Island Resort & Spa and Rosewood Little Dix Bay were among the top 25 “World’s Best Hotels” based on readers’ rankings of rooms, facilities, locations, service, restaurants, food, and value of hotels and resorts in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Bahamas.

As the BVI gears up for the high season this winter, the destination reflects on its noteworthy changes, from airlift to property upgrades and developments and exciting initiatives, including the announcement of the second culinary extravaganza – BVI Food Fete – which will offer a variety of festivals and activities throughout the month of November.

“New developments for various properties range from enhanced wellness and spa programs to sailing courses and luxurious beach tents to ensure travelers will have the ultimate getaway experience,” said Sharon Flax-Mars, Director of the BVI Tourist Board. “Transportation initiatives such as the cruise pier expansion and increased airlift make paradise in the BVI more accessible than ever.”

The BVI offers something for every type of traveler – couples and honeymooners, families, adventurers, sailors, and those seeking a relaxing escape in a picture-perfect location – with a wide range of accommodations and a variety of activities. Visitors can island-hop with ease and explore all the BVI has to offer. For more information on all the islands, visit www.bvitourism.com

Destination Initiatives

  • Summer FREEdom Program

This summer, the BVI Tourism Board invites travelers to take advantage of incredible offers throughout the 60 beautiful islands as part of the Summer FREEdom program. Value-added offers from a variety of properties – private islands, luxury villas, yachts and more – include free nights, resort credits, free transportation and free excursions, making getaways to paradise more affordable than ever. For a full list of all the Summer FREEdom offers along with booking and travel dates, visit: http://www.bvitourism.com/summer.

  •  Pier Expansion

The Cruise Pier expansion has been completed and the BVI Ports Authority has now turned its focus to the adjacent landside development, Tortola Pier Park. Several of the buildings are near completion and the park is expected to officially open before year end with amenities to include places to dine and shop.

  •  Turtle Encounters Program

Through a newly formed partnership between the Conservation and Fisheries Department (CFD) and the local non-profit Association of Reef Keepers (ARK), the BVI is offering a Turtle Encounters Program. The program will give participants the opportunity to join ongoing efforts toward sea turtle conservation within the Wider Caribbean Sea Turtle Conservation Network (WIDECAST).


  • Emancipation Festival

The 61st annual Emancipation Festival is the celebration of local ancestors’ freedom from colonialism in 1834 and local history. The BVI community and visitors gather for a spectacle of pageants, parades, boat races, street performances, and much more to commemorate BVI’s rich history. The festival takes place in Road Town, East End, and Carrot Bay on the main island of Tortola from July 24 through August 9.

  • Necker Cup

The Necker Cup is a six-day/five-night, all-inclusive world class Pro-Am Tennis event hosted by Sir Richard Branson on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands scheduled for November 28 through December 3. Participants are also offered the opportunity to engage in typical Necker Island activities like paddle boarding, sail boat races, kite boarding, wake boarding, snorkeling, massage therapy, beach tennis, parties and more – visit http://neckercup.com/ for more information.

  •  BVI Food Fete

Planning is currently underway for the second annual BVI Food Fete, a series of culinary festivals and activities that highlight the exquisite flavors of British Virgin Islands cuisine. Different events will be featured each week that feature visiting chefs from around the globe, culinary competitions, bar crawls, and the second annual Anegada Lobster Festival, which culminates the festive month.

  • Jost Van Dyke Bar Crawl introduces attendees to some of the BVI’s most popular beach bars on the island where the famous Painkiller was created. This fun event takes place on November 6.
  • Taste of Tortola and Virgin Gorda will be hosted on these two islands; both events will feature chef demonstrations, mixologist competitions, sampling of various foods, and more on November 7 and 21.
  • Barefoot Gourmet Soirée offers an incredible 5-course meal prepared by international and local chefs. The dinner is hosted at Peter Island Resort along a chic beach setting with live food stations featuring food prepared by each chef on November 14.
  • Anegada Lobster Festival is one of the most popular culinary events in the BVI where visitors can try the famous spiny lobster prepared in a variety of ways – grilled, jerked, curried, ceviche, broiled, stewed and more – washing it all down with the BVI’s signature cocktail, The Painkiller. This two-day event is on November 28 and 29.

Increased Airlift

  •  Due to increased demand, VI Airlink introduced a new scheduled flight that connects with Virgin Atlantic and British Airways flights to offer service from Antigua to the BVI two days per week on Fridays and Saturdays.
  • LIAT announced daily flights between Tortola and San Juan, Puerto Rico. The new service between Tortola and Puerto Rico provides convenient same day interline connections to New York, Newark and Orlando on JetBlue and United.

Property & Attraction Updates

  • Anegada Beach Club added brand new beach tents in December 2014. The tents offer beach living at its finest and are equipped with a king canopy bed, a furnished deck with a hammock big enough for two, beautifully crafted bathroom with hot shower, and an extra daybed for stowaways.
  • Peter Island Resort & Spa welcomes new General Manager, Scott Hart, who starts this role on July 8. Additionally, the resort is delighted to complete its beautification project in Summer 2015, which includes enhancements to the Mega Yacht Harbor, a new welcome pavilion, new dive shop, yacht captains’ lounge, commissary and renovations to the Ocean View and Ocean View Deluxe Suites. Peter Island is also pleased to offer Learn-to-Sail and Island-Style Boot Camp packages as well as a Summer Villa Rental Program, which provides up to 40 percent savings on villas.
  • Rosewood Little Dix Bay offers a re-envisioned wellness experience that incorporates a holistic approach to health and relaxation under the guidance of new Regional Spa Director, Menique De La Rosa. The award-winning spa will feature a new treatment menu that boasts specially curated spa products, as well as the region’s natural ingredients and remedies. For an invigorating fitness experience, the resort has partnered with FranklyFitness of New York City, to offer a truly complete wellness program, including on-site trainers who provide everything from wellness consultation, or classic strength and conditioning training to yoga and meditation along the Spa’s private relaxation beach.

Scrub Island Resort & Spa welcomes new Director of Food and Beverage Maheesha ‘M’ Ratnayake and new Executive Chef Juan Morrison. The resort also made hires for several key positions, including James “Jim” Miller as Managing Director,  Douglas “Chip” Nelson as General Manager, Daniel L.A. de Kok as Director of Finance and Denise Gordon-Morrison as Spa Manager. Scrub Island has recently received impressive accolades and was named one of Travel + Leisure’s 500 World’s Best Hotels for 2015 and ranked the eighth World’s Best Family hotel in the Caribbean in 2014. Lastly, the resort partnered with Dive BVI, Association of Reef Keepers and the Conservation & Fisheries Department, to offer guests a new “Turtle Researcher for a Day” program, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that assists in ongoing sea turtle conservation efforts.

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CTO’s Remarks at Singapore Tourism Model Workshop

“What a tremendous accolade it would be to be known for the Caribbean model.”

This from the secretary general of the CTO, Hugh Riley, at the opening this morning of the CTO-organized four-day workshop seeking to stimulate new ideas and fresh thinking aimed at re-inventing the Caribbean tourism product.

Dubbed, Developing Viable and Sustainable Tourism Products: The Singapore Model, the workshop is being facilitated by Christopher Khoo, the senior tourism consultant at International Business Dynamics (iBusiness), a training and consultancy firm that specializes in trade and economic development, investment promotion and tourism development.

Using Singapore’s model for tourism product development as the case study, the workshop focuses on key principles, including the tourism experience and the role of planning in tourism; fundamentals and principles of tourism product development and the tourism destination and its products.

Below are the secretary general’s remarks. The video is also available at the following link: http://bit.ly/1CAakW2

Welcome remarks by Hugh Riley, Secretary General, Caribbean Tourism Organization, At the official opening of the Regional Workshop entitled “Developing Viable and Sustainable Tourism Products: The Singapore Model”

Donna Banks, Chairman, Anguilla Tourism Board, Emil Lee, President; Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association;  Candis Niles, Director of Tourism, Anguilla; Dr. Kerry Hall, Chief Executive Officer, Barbados Tourism Product Authority; Geoffrey Roach, Chief Executive Officer, Barbados Cruise Terminal Inc.;  Sue Springer, Chief Executive Officer, Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association; Noorani Azeez, Chief Executive Officer, Saint Lucia Hotel & Tourism Association;  Dianille Taylor-Williams, Permanent Secretary, St. Kitts Ministry of Tourism; Zulaika Mook, Director, Economic Development & Innovation, Ministry of Economic Development, Curacao; May Hinds, Allied Board Member of the CTO; Dr. Lorraine Nicholas, Tourism Program Officer, Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States; Officials of our CTO member-countries; Visitors from throughout the Caribbean and overseas; Private sector Partners and Friends; Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.

Thank you, Bonita Morgan and your team, Sharon Banfield and Marvelle Sealy for putting this together.

Thank you to our partners, especially the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, International Business Dynamics, and of course Christopher Koo for helping us to make this all possible.

And thank you, public and private sector, local, regional and international; and the seventeen CTO member countries represented here from around the Caribbean. Thank you participants, for making this all worthwhile.

Let me begin by asking the question that is on the minds of everyone in any room with a varied audience like this: Who are you, and why are you here?

Most people will simply give their name and say something general like I’m here to learn something new; or I’m here to network; I’m here to contribute to the discussion; I’m here because my boss sent me.  All valid reasons.

But when I look around this room at who is really here, my guess is that most of us are here because we want to make a difference. We want to change something about the way we do business; and we are attracted by the fact that someone in our business has made a difference which we can learn from.  A destination that is really a competitor of the Caribbean – make no mistake about it, Singapore is a formidable competitor – has managed to earn the word “model” after its name.

What a tremendous accolade it would be to be known for the Caribbean model, or the Barbados model, the Villa de Rose model, The CHTA model.  We’re here to probe the depths of Christopher Khoo’s knowledge of the Singapore Model, a symbol of international achievement. More than anything else, Singapore is a model of fortitude and determination to succeed. That island state receives
over 15 million visitors a year.

At 700 square kilometers, Singapore is larger than Barbados, but smaller than Dominica. Jamaica is approximately fifteen times larger than Singapore in terms of land mass. Folks, Singapore is a model well worth studying.

Of course that is not to say we don’t recognize great examples right here among us in the Caribbean; we elevate those all the time; that is our responsibility; that is what we sell!

But because tourism is perhaps the most globally competitive enterpise in modern day commerce, we owe it to our region and to ourselves to see who is doing it successfully, and what aspects of any winning formula we can adapt to our circumstances. That’s how the best ideas evolve.

So, who are WE and why are WE here? We, the CTO, are the Caribbean’s tourism development entity with the responsibility for Leading Sustainable Tourism. We have pledged to work with our partners, chief among them the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association whose President Emile Lee from Sint Maarten is here today, to enhance the Caribbean’s desirability, year-round success and overall competitiveness.

It’s a tall order; and we can only accomplish it with the help of people who intend to make a difference. So we’re glad you’re here to collect whatever you need to make a difference in your business – a difference which will itself contribute to the overall success of the effort to make the Caribbean the world’s most desirable, year-round, warm weather destination.

Often I’m accused of getting too evangelistic about the things I feel strongly about and sometimes that frightens event organizers. But the CTO is the organizer of this particular event and so we’ve made a conscious decision to allow everyone to be as evangeilistic as they want to be.

Be passionate; give energy to your opinions! That is the oxygen you sometimes need to make things happen. Developing Viable and Sustainable Tourism Products will take us on an interesting journey together, over the next few days. When the workshop is over, there will be a half-day Forum at this hotel, starting at 9:00am on Friday morning.

Buckle up. Get ready for an exciting ride!

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