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Archive for July, 2015

Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie on Caribbean Tourism

Prime Minister Perry Christie on Caribbean Tourism  – part of speech  delivered at opening of 36th annual CARICOM Heads of Government Summit in Barbados on Thursday 2 July 2015

Long after I will have ended my stint in the Chair, The Bahamas will continue its responsibility for the CARICOM Tourism desk and I wish to pledge to Members that I intend to carry on my time as head of that Desk with as much vigour as I intend to see our tourism responsibilities carried out in the Bahamas through my Minister. That vigour will reflect my strong belief that it is through tourism growth and development that we have a collective opportunity to begin to address our problem of youth unemployment most rapidly.

I know that for some, tourism may be redolent of a part of our history that we would want to keep barricaded. For most of our countries, tourism is the largest earner of foreign exchange. For most of our countries, tourism is the largest employer. For all of our countries tourism absorbs the broadest range of skills of any economic sector. For all of our countries, tourism is the one sector for which there is no such thing as a jobless recovery. The very nature of tourism requires more people to be hired with increasing number of visitors. If unemployment especially youth unemployment is the scourge of our times, there appears to be no better economic sector for us to embrace in leading us closer to the promises that we have made to our lands.

I come to this view not only because of the intrinsic benefits that tourism delivers. I also come to this view because I have become convinced that when we look at the world today and at the various global trading blocs that have been formed and when we examine the various initiatives being pursued by CARICOM, it seems to me that the one natural bloc from which our CARICOM nations have much to gain is the God given bloc accorded us by having within the Caribbean the most salubrious conditions for existence on our planet.

I am convinced that tourism, the largest part of our collective economies and, in most cases, the largest part of our individual economies deserves much more attention at our regional meetings. Further, I am persuaded that tourism development and all that it entails is the fastest path to reducing unemployment in our region and the fastest path to reducing the debt burdens that terrifies upcoming generations. We are supposed to make each generation better. I fear that we are on the brink of leaving the next generation with a much greater burden to carry if we don’t begin to focus on ways to make our natural strengths stronger.

I know about and respect the powerful importance of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) to which our Ministers of Tourism belong. But it has occurred to me that unless CARICOM, that Caribbean body with the largest gathering of Government Heads of the Caribbean, signals to CTO that tourism is very important to our collective good, they will take their cues from the rarity of discussions about tourism at our CARICOM meetings as the indicator of our true beliefs.

My views are further prompted by what we see happening with the Cuban embargo and the United States. You will recall that it was CARICOM that spoke longest and loudest about the need for that embargo to be removed. In fact, not long after our most recent meeting as a body in Cuba, a meeting that I had the privilege to Chair, the announcement of intent was made by President Obama.

Mr Chairman, I have to tell you that after reading the Paper produced by the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association on the likely impact on Caribbean tourism of the reopening of Cuba to travel for United States citizens, I hear their appeal for us to act as a group to take full advantage of the opportunity to our collective benefit. In their recommendation to establish a Caribbean Basin Tourism Initiative, I hear their appeal for CARICOM to act in a more concerted manner. The Caribbean Basin Tourism Initiative promises that our citizens can receive benefits from our collective action that we might not be able to achieve for them as individual nations.

We need to take action to achieve the reciprocal reduction of taxes on airline tickets between the United States and Canada. The present high taxes have the effect of reducing travel rather than increasing it.

I am not suggesting for one moment that we should remove all taxes from airline tickets immediately and invite the United States, Europe and South American countries to do the same. What I am asking is that we examine the likely effects of such a move on employment, on total spending and on tax collection. I do know that a recent PriceWaterhouseCoopers report on the effects of the UK imposed APD on airline tickets has been negative for the UK in terms of jobs and tax collection. While we prefer to believe that our lobbying efforts had some effect, it is clear that some of the adjustments that the UK made to APD is a result of discovering that that ticket tax was counterproductive.

With taxes on airline tickets approaching 65% of the total ticket prices in some cases in the Caribbean, there is an argument to be made that the social and economic benefits to be derived from increased volumes of visitors exceed the taxes removed.

So Mr Chairman, this proposed Caribbean Tourism Initiative deserves some closer examination for the benefit of all CARICOM communities. In line with the authors of the document, the world most tourism dependent region, the Caribbean, should also be seen to be the most tourism competent. We must go further in addressing our air transportation rules, our shipping rules, our regional marketing rules, training and development, etc.

I firmly believe that this could be the beginning of some significant steps in the direction of making things better in the Bahamas and better in the Caribbean.

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Hat-trick of accolades for Saint Lucia at the inaugural Telegraph Caribbean Travel Awards

(London, 29 June, 2015) Saint Lucia picked up three prestigious awards on Thursday night at the inaugural Telegraph Caribbean Travel Awards which took place at the annual ball on behalf of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).

Across 10 different categories the island won ‘Favourite Luxury Hotel’ with Sugar Beach, joint winner of ‘Favourite Boutique Hotels’ with Rendezvous Resort whilst the destination itself was awarded ‘Best for Spa Holidays’ and runner up for ‘Top Nature Holidays’.

The awards, which were organised in partnership with the Caribbean Tourism Organization and hosted by Simon Reeve and Angie Greaves, highlight the diversity of holiday experiences on offer across the region, with thousands of Telegraph readers voting for their favourite islands and hotels.

Atlyn Forde, Director of Marketing – UK and Europe comments:

‘We are delighted that Saint Lucia has been recognised by Telegraph readers as a leader in these categories; the island offers such a diverse range of activities and accommodation and these awards really help to highlight this fact.  To have taken home not one, but three awards is a great achievement for the island and we are all incredibly proud’.

For more information please visit www.saintluciauk.org

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Hamilton makes headlines: Nevis weighs in on their native son

New York, NY, July 1, 2015… Recently in Washington, it was announced that Alexander Hamilton, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America as well as the founder of the U.S. Mint, the nation’s first Treasury secretary and the founder of Hamiltonian Economics, and whose image is on the US $10 bill, will now be shared with the a portrait of a famous American woman who has yet to be declared.

As expected, this has created quite the stir within the general public both domestically and in Nevis, Hamilton’s birth island.  Many of which are against Secretary Jack Lew’s decision to bring Hamilton to the chopping block. Comments such as, “You would not even have a national currency without the efforts of the truly brilliant Alexander Hamilton” by Craig Marr, riddle the internet and social media, while former Federal Reserve chief, Ben Bernanke said this about the proposed change, “Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, would qualify as among the greatest of our founders for his contributions to achieving American independence and creating the Constitution alone.”

He goes on further to say, “As many have pointed out, a better solution is available: Replace Andrew Jackson, a man of many unattractive qualities and a poor president, on the twenty dollar bill…”

Bernanke also wrote in his blog, “The Treasury Department should do everything within its power to defend the honor of Jack Lew’s most illustrious predecessor.”

As the debate rages, there is one entity that has been overlooked throughout this entire ordeal.  That would be Nevis, the island nation in the Caribbean where Alexander Hamilton spent the better part of his childhood into his teenage years, before making his way to St. Croix and onward to New York City.

Nevis has long been an avid supporter of the United States and its policies, in part due to the strong connective tissue that link the two together.  After all, Alexander Hamilton was indeed among the greatest Founding Fathers in United States history and Nevis loves sharing that bond. The island takes great pride in knowing that such a historically significant individual is a son of the secluded tropical paradise and members of the Caribbean diaspora are supporting Ben Bernanke and the rest of the nation that fly the #savehamilton flag on the internet.

It seems to come at a most inopportune time, as Hamilton becomes more of a pop culture historic icon now than ever before.  With hit plays like Hamilton making waves through Broadway, where Tony award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda dazzles crowds with his Hip-Hop Operetta styled show, and production studios begin to grace the History Channel, National Geographic, and HBO with special documentaries on the national hero, the plan has caused much controversy.

Jack Lew, however, insists that the decision is all about timing and nothing else.  The $20 most recently underwent a redesign and the $10 was due. Capitol Hill is pressuring the Treasury Department for a woman by 2020 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

Greg Phillip, the CEO of the Nevis Tourism Authority said, “The world views Alexander Hamilton as the great American founding father, but here on Nevis we see him as family and as a result, we know him and the principles that governed his life more fully than most probably do.  That being said, if there was ever a Founding Father that would gladly forfeit his place on American currency, it would be Hamilton.  He was a true lover and supporter of women, and this has everything to do with his upbringing by his mother right here on Nevis so whatever the decision by the Federal Reserve, Alexander Hamilton will always have a home in Nevis”.

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Barbadian tourism businesses to explore new ideas and fresh thinking for growth

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados. Mon 6 July, 2015 – Tourism stakeholders in the public and private sectors in Barbados will explore new and exciting ideas on how to grow and develop their businesses using one of the world’s top development models as a case study.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has organized a half-day tourism forum on The Singapore Tourism Experience on Friday 17 July, to introduce participants to best practices in the South-East Asian island city-state of Singapore, using  that country’s tourism model as the tapestry to explore opportunities for development and expansion of tourism businesses in Barbados and regionally.

“Singapore offers one of the best business environments in the world and is fast emerging as a choice destination for the development of iconic tourist attractions. It also offers a dynamic tourism landscape and is constantly evolving to stay compelling and remain relevant as a tourist destination,” said Bonita Morgan, the CTO’s director of resource mobilization and development. “This forum offers an ideal occasion for sharing, learning and discussion among all tourism industry stakeholders.”

The forum, organized in partnership with the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, will examine six main areas relating to Singapore’s strategic approach to tourism. These include planning and development, product development, partnerships, investment and financing, marketing and education and training. It will be led by Christopher Khoo, a senior tourism consultant at International Business Dynamics (iBusiness), a Singapore training and consultancy firm  that specializes in trade and economic development, investment promotion and tourism development.  Mr. Khoo has a broad range of technical and operational expertise in the areas of strategic planning, tourism development, destination marketing, event management, tourism product development, and human capital development and has undertaken many international tourism projects in the Abu Dhabi, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia, Uzbekistan and Singapore. “I will show the similarities between Singapore and Barbados. Both are islands, both are former English colonies, both surrounded by larger islands. What I’m looking to show is where Singapore is from a tourism perspective and to show it can be done, it has been done and to show some examples of how we can achieve this,” said Khoo who spent fifteen years with the Singapore Tourism Board in many key positions including Regional Director United Kingdom/Ireland covering also the Benelux and Scandinavian countries, Regional Director Germany covering also Switzerland, Austria and the countries of the former Soviet Union, Director of Industry Development, Director of Competitive Intelligence..

“In Singapore we’ve made it a practice to look around the world for best practices and I will show how Singapore has used this process to develop the cruise industry, the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences & Events markets, the cruise industry, and how it can apply to Barbados. I’d like to see something more done with your history, your rum; these are ideas that can resonate,” he added.

Barbados received over 550,000 cruise passengers in 2014. The tourism development expert said he plans to explore ways for local businesses to  extract more from cruise.

He will also share insights into Singapore’s hotel industry, some of the early problems encountered by this sector and what was done to overcome these problems and grow the sector.

“This can give ideas to your hotel association on certain things that can be done at the local level,” Khoo said.

The forum on The Singapore Tourism Experience takes place on Friday 17 July from 9:00 to noon at the Radisson Aquatica Resort in Barbados, and follows a four-day workshop on Developing Viable and Sustainable Tourism Products using the Singapore Tourism Model.

The programme also includes informative and thought-provoking discussions from a panel of tourism experts, led by the CTO’s secretary general, Hugh Riley and will afford the audience and opportunity to engage with Mr. Khoo and the panel regarding the topics being discussed.

For more information, including how to register, please visit www.onecaribbean.org.

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Antigua and Barbuda Mango Festival celebrates 10 years

(St. John’s, Antigua)  – The twin-island destination of Antigua and Barbuda known for its 365 turquoise beaches and the ‘Antigua Black’ Pineapple, will celebrate the king of tropical fruit, this summer when the Antigua and Barbuda Mango Festival returns to the lush and  breath-taking Christian Valley this July 26 and 27.

Sweet, juicy and versatile, delicious mangoes of every size and type will be in abundance as the Antigua and Barbuda Mango Festival celebrates its ten year anniversary in Antigua.

The annual Mango Festival will offer every imaginable mango-made delight, from fruity soaps and mango preserves and sauces to scented candles and wine. Under the shade of mango trees at Christian Valley, guests will encounter a mango market, exhibitions, children’s activities, games, mango-eating competitions, explore the nature trails laden with mangoes and green vegetation and enjoy live performances.

A Mango Pineapple Culinary competition featuring Antigua and Barbuda’s best chefs will also highlight the tropical fruit, and inspire guests interested in learning about utilizing mangoes and pineapples in creative Caribbean cuisine.  Visitors can witness the exciting Mango Pineapple Culinary Competition on July 11 and July 12 at the Antigua and Barbuda Hospitality Training Institute.

Known as the “king of fruit” throughout the world, in some cultures, the mango tree is a symbol of love, and the fruit is known to be bursting with flavour as well as protective nutrients including vitamin C and beta carotene.

For more information, about the Antigua and Barbuda Mango Festival visit the Facebook page: Facebook.com/annualmangofest.

 

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United Airlines starting nonstop flights to Providenciales from Chicago

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands (June 30, 2015) –  Chicago residents will soon enjoy easy access to Providenciales with the launch of a seasonal, nonstop United Airlines service from December  19, 2015 through April 30,2016 – just in time for the busy winter travel season.  Scheduled for Saturdays, the Boeing 737-800, featuring a total of 154 seats; 16 seats in Business and 138 in Economy, including 48 Economy Plus extra-legroom seats, will be United Airlines’ first nonstop service available from Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), its major hub, to the Providenciales International Airport (PLS).

“Providenciales is among the fastest-growing Caribbean destinations, with 16 percent industry demand growth year-over-year, and our service here addresses seasonal variation in demand from different hubs. The winter ORD-PLS service complements our existing service to Providenciales from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and recently added summer service from Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH),” says Noel Smith, United’s National Account and Leisure Sales Manager.

The outbound United Airlines flight will depart Chicago on Saturdays at 10:40 a.m. and arrive in Providenciales at 3:40p.m.  Returning from Providenciales, the flight will depart on Saturdays at 1:49 p.m. and arrive in Chicago at 5:09 p.m.

“We are extremely excited to partner with United Airlines on its first ever nonstop service out of Chicago to Providenciales. The direct route will provide easy access for our visitors, add further convenience, and offer excellent connections to feeder cities in the Midwestern United States,” commented Ralph L. Higgs, Director of Tourism. “We anticipate welcoming the new and returning visitors this new service will bring to Providenciales and look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship with United Airlines.”

Bookings to Providenciales from Chicago became available on June 13. For more information on United Airlines schedules and fares, travelers should contact United Airlines at 1-800-864-8331 or visit www.united.com.

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CTO seeks to inject fresh thinking into Caribbean tourism product

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, 1 July, 2015 – The region’s tourism development agency is seeking to stimulate new ideas and fresh thinking aimed at re-inventing the Caribbean tourism product. The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has organized a regional four-day workshop to, among other objectives, provide opportunities for participants to maximize their knowledge through learning about international/global best practices in tourism product development.

“The overall quality of the visitor experience is influenced by the diversity and quality of tourism products and services being offered by the destination.  The Caribbean’s tourism market share and overall competitiveness is gradually being eroded as the perception is that the region’s tourism product is jaded and needs an injection of investment to introduce new products and services, and re-fresh existing products that can excite today’s customer,” said Bonita Morgan, the CTO’s director of resource mobilization and development.

Using Singapore’s model for tourism product development as the case study, the workshop will focus 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.

Dubbed, Developing Viable and Sustainable Tourism Products: The Singapore Model, the workshop will be 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.

The four day workshop is being organized in partnership with the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association and will be held from 13-16 July at the Radisson Aquatica Resort in Barbados. It will be followed by a half-day tourism forum on The Singapore Tourism Experience on Friday 17 July, at which participants will be introduced to best practices in the South-East Asian island city-state.

“Singapore offers one of the best business environments in the world and is fast emerging as a choice destination for the development of iconic tourist attractions. It also offers a dynamic tourism landscape and is constantly evolving to stay compelling and remain relevant as a tourist destination,” said Ms. Morgan. “This forum offers an ideal occasion for sharing, learning and discussion among all tourism industry stakeholders.”

This forum will examine six main areas relating to Singapore’s strategic approach to tourism. These include planning and development, product development, partnerships, investment and financing, marketing and education and training.

The programme also includes informative and thought-provoking discussions from a panel of tourism experts, led by the CTO’s secretary general, Hugh Riley.

For programme details and registration information, please visit www.onecaribbean.org

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