CTO News

Archive for August, 2015

St. Kitts dazzles Canadian media

Basseterre, St. Kitts (August 26, 2015) – The St. Kitts Tourism Authority shone the spotlight on St. Kitts yesterday morning at an exclusive press breakfast held at the Park Hyatt hotel in Toronto, wherein a select group of top Canadian media were provided with news and information about the latest developments on island. The attending media were also introduced to the Hon. Lindsay F.P. Grant, Minister of Tourism, International Trade, Industry and Commerce, and given the opportunity to ask him questions about the island’s tourism product.

Addressing the media, Minister Grant said, “St. Kitts enjoyed significant growth in our tourist arrivals during the first half of this year, January through June 2015. Compared to the same period last year, system-wide air passenger arrivals were up 6.7%. To date this year, there are 74 new or newly renovated rooms in our hotel room inventory, the mega-yacht marina at Christophe Harbour opened in February and will also be opening Park Hyatt St. Kitts, Embassy Suites by Hilton St. Kitts and Koi Resort & Residences all within the next two years. Growth will not be explosive. After we roll out these new properties, we will reevaluate our position as we have always been about managed growth.”

During the question and answer session of the media event, Minister Grant entertained questions on the progress of renewable and green energy projects and specifically geothermal energy. He responded citing the progress being made in developing the island’s tourism product in a sustainable manner through carefully controlled growth. He also noted that Nevis had taken the lead in terms of geothermal energy and work is underway there while St. Kitts is currently exploring the possibilities. St. Kitts, on the other hand, has more of a focus on solar energy and Minister Grant noted the progress being made in this area. When a journalist inquired about diving as a niche market for the destination, Minister Grant also discussed his desire to establish a Marine Park in order to protect the island’s healthy marine environment.

Media attending the breakfast were either on staff with or representing publications including Canadian Travel Press/Travel Courier, Canadian Yachting, Caribbean Vibrations TV, Meeting & Incentive Travel magazine, CHRY Radio, Travel Industry Today, The Toronto Sun and The Toronto Star, to name a few.

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St. Kitts partners with Golf Association of Ontario

Basseterre, St. Kitts (August 25, 2015) – The St. Kitts Tourism Authority has partnered with the Golf Association of Ontario (GAO) to promote St. Kitts & Nevis as a golf destination to golfers in the province. The announcement was made earlier today at a luncheon held at the Angus Glen Golf Club.

“The GAO partnership represents a dynamic opportunity for St Kitts & Nevis to showcase the beauty and challenges of our golf courses to one of Canada’s strongest consumer segments,” said the Hon. Mr. Lindsay F.P. Grant, Minister of Tourism, International Trade, Industry and Commerce. “For the GAO to select St. Kitts & Nevis as an overseas venue for a sanctioned event underscores the emergence of our islands as a premier golf destination that’s only going to get better when we welcome our new courses at Kittitian Hill and Christophe Harbour. On behalf of our stakeholders and the people of St. Kitts & Nevis, we look forward to welcoming the many GAO members and staff that will come to our shores in the years ahead.”

As a result of the partnership with GAO, St. Kitts will be hosting the St. Kitts 2-ball Shootout in conjunction with the Golf Association of Canada. Taking place from December 5-12, 2015, the event will feature 2-person teams competing in a 54-hole gross and net better ball competition at the Royal St. Kitts Golf Club. Participating golfers from the GAO will travel to St. Kitts on a 7-night package that includes accommodations at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort, meals, receptions, tournament play, awards and more.

“Our members are very well traveled and can get themselves to Myrtle Beach, Miami, Jamaica and many other well-known and popular golf destinations,” said Chris Osborne, President of the GAO. “What we want to give them is something new, something different, something special… and St. Kitts is all of that.”

Golf is one of the most lucrative niche markets that can contribute to a destination’s economy. More golfers live and play in the province of Ontario than any other region of Canada and Canada represents the second largest source market in North America for air passenger arrivals. There are 6 million golfers in Canada and those who travel overseas to play golf spend 4.5 billion, representing a significant potential market for St. Kitts & Nevis.

In addition to the Royal St. Kitts Golf Club and, on Nevis, the Robert Trent Jones II course at Four Seasons Resort Nevis Golf Club, the twin-island federation will soon be home to the hillside Irie Fields championship course designed by Ian Woosnam at Kittitian Hill, which currently has 9 holes open with the remaining 9 holes to open by the end of this year, and a Tom Fazio championship course at Christophe Harbour on St. Kitts’ southeast peninsula scheduled to open in 2017. Together, they create a collection of championship courses unmatched in a destination of St. Kitts and Nevis’ size.

Further to the 2Ball Invitational, other signature golf events continue to be developed that showcase St. Kitts & Nevis as a golf destination. In May 2016, the island will host a second new event, the LINKS Magazine St. Kitts Couples Invitational. Entering its 6th year, the Admiral’s Cup Pro-Am is scheduled to take place February 7-11, 2016 and continues to grow in popularity among golf club teams.

In 2014, LINKS Magazine included St. Kitts & Nevis in its newly created ranking of the Top 25 Islands in the world for golf travel and it is one of just seven Caribbean islands on the list

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Symposium To Guide Nevis’ Romance Marketing

New York, NY, August 24, 2015… When people think of Nevis, they often associate it with unparalleled hospitality, natural beauty, and one of the most romantic and secluded getaway locations in the world.  But this October from the 19th to the 23rd, Nevis will be anything but secluded as the Nevis Tourism Authority hosts the Nevis Travel Symposium with this year’s focus on Romance in Nevis in conjunction with Dreamy Weddings and Tours.

As a jewel of the Caribbean, it’s only fitting that headliners such as Nancy Barkley, Natalie John, Keith Powell and Paula McCrory will be presenting during the symposium.  The Nevis Tourism Authority (NTA) has done a fabulous job gathering some of the industry’s finest to present on subjects from wedding planning, honeymoons and get-a-ways, and social media marketing and taste influencing.  Each speaker possesses years of professional experience, numerous accolades and real-world insights that they are ready and willing to share.

During the Symposium, the speakers will also address how and why Nevis is the perfect place for anyone considering a romantic escape.  Topics to be discussed include: the ease of hosting destination weddings on Nevis, the hottest destinations for couples seeking elegance and romance, and pinpointing the most picturesque locations.

In addition attendees will gain invaluable insight and engage in stimulating conversations with some of the industry’s top gurus. They will have day-long opportunities to network with vendors and build relationships with the island’s tourism representatives.

Finally, attendees will gain hands-on knowledge and expertise in the Nevis brand necessary to prepare them as certified Nevis Romance Specialists.

If there is one event that should be on your calendar for October, it is the Nevis Travel Symposium.

To register for this unforgettable event: Nevis Travel Symposium
Bookings to and from Nevis can be made via the Nevis website: Nevis Island

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“Unaffected by Sargassum but joining the fight”, says Atlantis Submarines Barbados

August 19th 2015 – Bridgetown, Barbados – As the Caribbean and specifically Barbados battles the Sargassum problem that has plagued them with increasing frequency and magnitude over the past three years, Atlantis Submarines Barbados has so far escaped the onslaught.  There is a perception that there is seaweed everywhere but nothing can be further from the truth.  The submarine dive site is as clear and pretty on the surface as always so far.  Atlantis Submarines Barbados dives one mile off the west coast of Barbados and this “gold” coast which is home to some of the most luxurious properties, has been minimally affected so far.  In comparison the East and South coast have taken the brunt of the impact.

General Manager Roseanne Myers has updated on their internal response by saying “Though the west coast where we dive, has been unaffected, our safety team has met to discuss and put monitoring mechanisms in place.  In our assessment the Sargassum invasion is not likely to have a serious effect on the submarine tour.  We have been experiencing the bump in business from Crop Over 2015 and this has remained strong for the first few weeks in August.  No sargassum sorrows here”. Mrs. Myers went on to add, “We dive from 50 to 150 feet below the surface (about 15 to 45 meters) and therefore as the seaweed is mainly a surface dweller, the underwater and visibility down to that depth is unaffected.  On the surface the submarine can operate anywhere and with the surface control boat always on alert, if there are areas of seaweed, the submarine will be directed simply not to emerge or submerge in the midst of it.  So far the most we have seen are a few handfuls, at worst.”

Atlantis Submarines operates two 48 passenger submarines in Barbados that provide the opportunity to see the underwater world in safety and comfort and to enjoy the reef and other marine life, during the day and at night.  This adventure is one of the most unique and highly recommended attractions in Barbados.  For more information please visit our website where you can also connect to all of our social media platforms.  The Green Atlantis page seeks also to capture what is being said on this and other environmental matters.

Sargassum, according to the resource guide for the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism (CAST) published in July of 2015 is defined as follows “Sargassum is a species of brown algae. There are two species commonly found in the Caribbean (s. natans and s. fluitans). It is free-floating seaweed and will not attach to the ocean floor; its movements depend solely on ocean currents. It is an essential habitat for over 250 species of fish and invertebrates.”  Atlantis Submarines is encouraging its staff and general public to educate themselves on the issue. The CAST Sargassum Resource Guide for the Caribbean seeks to provide facts and direction to all concerned on dealing with this matter and can be found at this link http://bit.ly/CASTSargassum.  This has been posted on our website’s Green Atlantis  page as well as an article “The Sargassum Saga 2015, a roundup of what is being said” and on our social media platforms.

Mrs. Myers went on to say “Recognising that anything that affects the island as a whole can affect Atlantis Submarines, we are prepared to sound the alert if we were to detect a change that our other west coast tourism partners need to be aware of.   No such occasion or need has yet arisen.  She opined “The truth is Barbados is 16 miles across from West to East and 21 miles from North to south, so this situation is being managed by tourists and residents in the affected areas simply choosing another one of our many beaches to go to. Atlantis Submarines has two miles of reef on which it plies its trade and can easily navigate around any potential surface issues.  On a positive note we hope that some of the sea life that breeds in the Sargassum ends up taking permanent residence on the near shore reefs so we can showcase them on submarine tours for years to come”.

The Atlantis Submarines Barbados operation is part of a fleet of submarines headquartered in Vancouver, Canada with sister submarine locations in the Cayman Islands, Aruba, Cozumel, Mexico, Honolulu, Maui and Kona in Hawaii and in the US territory of Guam.  For further information contact [email protected] or Roseanne Myers, General Manager, Atlantis Submarines Barbados at [email protected].

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Antigua and Barbuda opens the Caribbean’s newest and most modern state of the art airport terminal

(St. John’s, Antigua) – The twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda has opened one of the most modern international airports in the Caribbean.  The 23,000 square meters new terminal for the destination, more than doubles the capacity of the adjacent previous terminal, making way for an increase in passenger use of the V.C. Bird International Airport as an all important airline hub, and the  largest gateway to the Eastern Caribbean.

There are 4 jet bridges, and a unique, state of the art baggage sorting and scanning system. With faster immigration processing times, user friendly innovations and features, the near US$100 million terminal that opens for operation on August 24, will greatly improve the visitor experience, allowing travellers expedited access to Antigua and Barbuda, and maximum sun time on the destination’s 365 beaches.

For those departing, there are 46 check-in counters and 15 self-check in kiosks. A bigger departure lounge, offers more space to relax, modern comforts, multiple gates, and an enhanced shopping and dining experience. The facility houses 30 retail units including International brands Dufry, Colombian Emeralds, Café Britt, Café Player and Subway. Free wifi and Internet service is available for the tech savvy traveler, while travelers with pets, can take advantage of the airport’s pet friendliness by enjoying the pet restroom.

There are three brand, new lounges: A VVIP lounge, a VIP lounge and an Airport Executive Lounge. The airport executive lounge, with outdoor balcony offers remarkable views of two of Antigua’s offshore islands – Long Island and Maiden Island, giving passengers the opportunity to bask in the last rays of sunshine before their flight.

The modern facility, funded by China EXIM Bank concessional loan, and by a Chinese Government Interest Free Loan, has also been specially designed with elevators, escalators and ramps, to serve the travel needs of passengers requiring special assistance.

The terminal building will also see an innovative feature intended to further advance Antigua and Barbuda’s reputation as a leader in sustainable tourism and sustainable development within the region.  This involves the establishment of a 3 mega watt solar photovoltaic facility, to provide green energy solutions to the considerable demand for electrical energy in the new terminal.

Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Energy and Investment, The Honourable Asot Michael says, “What we are celebrating today as we cut a ribbon is the largest single infrastructural investment in the development of our young nation. This facility, is one that we can all be proud of and of which I am confident will help ensure the bright and successful future of Antigua and Barbuda. It will further cement our position as a premier tourist destination of choice in the Caribbean.

“We are responsible for ensuring a major part of this, by ensuring that our islands are exactly what we promise: welcoming, beautiful, safe and enjoyable; from the point when visitors touch down to their departure we will ensure that their experience is one that is unforgettable and that they take back only warm and lasting memories of their time spent in our beautiful country.”

For the upcoming winter season, JetBlue Airways will begin direct service to Antigua’s new international airport, from New York’s JFK International Airport on November 5. In December, Alitalia will begin weekly service from Milan, and Seaborne Airlines will begin direct service from San Juan.

The V.C. Bird International Airport currently offers service to more than fifty destinations worldwide on Air Canada, American Airlines, British Airways, Caribbean Airlines, Condor, Delta Airlines, LIAT (1974) Ltd, St Barth Commuter, ABM Air, Thomas Cook Airlines, Tradewinds Aviation, United Airlines, US Airways, Virgin Atlantic Airways and WestJet.

The new terminal will operate 24 hours a day.  The previous terminal building which processed over 860,000 passengers per year, will continue be used partially for administrative purposes.

The new and greatly improved V. C. Bird International Airport terminal is the latest jewel in the country’s tourism crown, and will position Antigua and Barbuda for unprecedented growth in the travel and tourism industry.

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Cayman Islands mid-year visitor arrivals show overall positive increase

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands (31 July 2015) Following another consecutive record breaking year in 2014 the Cayman Islands has remained in a modest growth positon year to date June 2015. Overall air arrivals for 2015 have remained steady with year to date arrivals increasing by 1.43 percent. The month of June saw a slight decrease in stay over visitors when compared to the same month in 2014. Year to date 2015, there have been 213,495 air arrivals, compared to 210,491 for the same period of 2014.

Cruise arrivals for the Cayman Islands have shown a marked increase with a 9.21 percent increase for the month of June 2015.  The total numbers of cruise visitors in the month of June were 94,511.  Year over year statistics also demonstrate that cruise visitation for the first six months equaled 908,881, a 5.50 percent increase over the 861,517 visitors in for the same period in 2014.

“We understood heading into the shoulder season that arrival figures would be challenged,” said the Minister of Tourism, the Hon Moses Kirkconnell. “Despite the minor decline for the early summer period, I am pleased the destination has maintained positive growth in arrivals for both air and cruise.”

At 32,573 stayover visitors June 2015 saw the second highest June visitation rate for the Cayman Islands since 2000.

Director of Tourism, Mrs. Rosa Harris shared, “My department’s 2015 forecast indicated a slowed growth due to capacity constraints. The Department of Tourism continues to work very closely with our tourism partners through marketing and promotional efforts to flatten the seasonality of tourism. We are encouraged by the continued confidence demonstrated by airline partners through the addition of new and expanded winter service from key markets in the US, such as Chicago, Dallas and Washington, D.C.”

For more detailed information about arrival statistics, please visit the website, http://www.caymanislands.ky/statistics.

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Statement by the Caribbean Tourism Organization on the influx of Sargassum seaweed

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Tues 11 Aug 2015 – The seasonal influx of Sargassum seaweed on Caribbean beaches has got the attention of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and tourism policymakers and practitioners across  the region.

Sargassum is a natural occurrence believed to originate  in the Sargasso Sea, a two million-square-mile  body of warm water in the north Atlantic near Bermuda, although some scientists believe the current influx was brought into the Eastern Caribbean through the North Brazil Current and because it thrives in warm, nutrient-rich water, the Sargassum simply spreads throughout the region.

It is an unwelcome visitor which can be uncomfortable and which takes away from the beach experience for our guests.

The CTO and our Caribbean partners are treating this matter seriously and with urgency. We have engaged a number of  regional and international institutions in our attempts at finding solutions, among them, universities.

A number of theories have been advanced as to the cause of the latest influx, and myriad suggestions put forward for tackling the issue. We will be participating in a symposium being led by the University of the West Indies (UWI) next Monday, August 17th “to crystallize these myriad ideas and theories into workable solutions that can be implemented immediately to address our situation.”  We are optimistic that meaningful solutions will emerge.

Among our CTO member-countries the issue differs significantly from one set of circumstances to another, as does the level of the incursion. Even in destinations which are at risk, not all beaches have been affected; in some cases it’s just on the windward coast and not the leeward.

But many seem to agree that what’s needed is a deeper understanding of how to tackle the issue collaboratively, with key stakeholders, public- and private-sector, contributing to the discussion. This is what the CTO is encouraging; this is what we are involved.

The Caribbean has countless attributes which makes our region a most desirable holiday destination. Our history, culture, cuisine, music, hiking, diving, bird-watching, festivals, etc, all make for unforgettable experiences. However, for most of our members, the beach is an integral part of this experience, the pristine nature of which we are proud. We are aware that the influx of sargassum can impact this aspect of our product and we will be at the centre of efforts to find a regional solution.

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