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Archive for 2017

Island Update: What’s new in Curacao

WILLEMSTAD, CURAÇAO – May 2017 – The Southern Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao not only recently graced the pages of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2017, the most widely read magazine issue in the world, but this spring, the tiny, yet bustling, nation is upping the ante with a new JetBlue flight schedule, hotel renovations, experiential packages, island-wide promotions, and a full calendar of highly anticipated events. Read below to find out what’s new in Curaçao.

ISLAND NEWS

  • Curaçao Featured in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2017

The colorful ABC island of Curaçao set the stage for this year’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2017. Curaçao’s striking blue waters are prominently featured in the magazine, which is on stands now through the end of May. The two-week shoot, which was photographed by veteran photographer Ben Watts, included top models Vita Sidorkina, Rose Bertram, Samantha Hoopes, Barbara Palvin and Myla Dalbesio. The crew stayed at Avila Beach Hotel and explored many of the island’s highlights, including Playa Porto Mari, Jan Thiel, Shete Boka and more. For more information, visit www.si.com/swimsuit/2017/curacao.

  •  JetBlue Adjusting Current Flight Schedule for New York to Curaçao Route

JetBlue is adjusting its current flight schedule to Curaçao. Starting on June 19, travelers can fly nonstop from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport to Curaçao’s Hato International Airport every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. Currently, the airline flies non-stop from JFK to Curaçao on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and the trip takes approximately 4.5 hours. In addition to the New York routes, North American travelers can fly direct to the island from Toronto, Miami and Charlotte. For more information, visit www.curacao.com.

  •  Island-Wide Discounts for Summer Travel

In celebration of the Curaçao Hospitality & Tourism Association’s (CHATA) 50th anniversary, travelers can save on travel to Curaçao this summer with exclusive island-wide offers at more than 15 hotels. Travelers can choose from 50th anniversary-themed savings at colorful boutique properties in Pietermaai to laid-back resorts tucked away on the island’s western side, with sales ranging from $50 off room rates, to $50 resort credits to use on dining and spa treatments. For more information or to book, visit www.curacao.com/chata50.

 HOTEL NEWS

  • Scuba Lodge Completes Renovation

The vibrantly colored Scuba Lodge & Ocean Suites in the island’s trendy, up-and-coming area of Pietermaai has renovated one of its five buildings to include six new Superior Rooms. The new rooms include king-size beds, rainfall showers, and small kitchenettes. The 28-room boutique hotel, which is within walking distance of downtown Willemstad and the Queen Emma Bridge, also updated its guest check-in and reception area. For more information, visit www.scubalodge.com.

  • Hilton Curaçao Upgrades Meeting Spaces

The Hilton Curaçao recently upgraded its meetings spaces with new carpeting and aesthetic finishes. The beachfront property has more than 7,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting and event space, including an intimate boardroom for smaller meetings and a large ballroom able to accommodate groups of more than 400. Situated on Piscadera Bay, the resort also features two of Curaçao’s largest beaches, a PADI scuba diving center and on-property casino. For more information, click here or email: [email protected]

  • New Additions at Rancho El Sobrino

Rancho El Sobrino Resort & Restaurant on the island’s rugged west coast has completed its three new studios, which each accommodate two guests and feature wood floors and a modern glass shower. The rooms also include a small kitchen with a gas stove, kettle, refrigerator, coffee machine and more. In addition to the new studios, the property recently began offering car rentals for guests to explore the island. Rentals begin at $40.00/day and guests can pick them up at the hotel or at Hato International Airport. For more information, visit www.ranchoelsobrino.com.

  • Royal Sea Aquarium Resort Introduces New Happy Hours and Breakfast Bar

The Royal Sea Aquarium Resort recently added a new poolside breakfast bar for guests to start their day on the right foot with classic favorites like omelets, pancakes, potatoes, bacon, French toast, fresh fruit and tropical island smoothies. Ideally located on its own private island, the resort also now offers Royal Happy Hours and a Tuesday Night Loko Party featuring eclectic cocktails, a fire show, live entertainment, and Dutch “Dushi” Waffles for dessert. For more information, visit www.royalseaquariumresort.com.

 DINING NEWS

  •  Koko’s Restaurant Opens on Jan Thiel Beach

Jan Thiel Beach recently welcomed Koko’s to its roster of beachside restaurants. The open-air hangout spot serves up a delicious selection of street food, including pulled pork flatbreads, Philly cheesesteaks, a slider trio, and more. The restaurant also offers fresh fruit smoothies, healthy shakes, juices, and cocktails. For more information, visit www.janthielbeach.com.

  • Willemstad Welcomes Shelterrock Paradise

Shelterrock Paradise, a colorful restaurant just outside of downtown Willemstad recently opened its doors. The restaurant boasts breezy wind sails, decorative wooden tables, vibrant color accents and incredible water views for enjoying the sunset. The small eatery, which is already becoming a local favorite, serves up island delights, including BBQ chicken and ribs, fried plantains, peas and rice, fresh fish and more. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/shelterrockparadise.

  • Williburger Opens in Banda Bou

The latest addition to the Curaçao culinary scene is WILLIBURGER in Banda Bou on Curaçao’s west side. The new restaurant recently introduced its very own “kabritu burger,” which is a spicy goat burger. The innovative dish, which is typically served as a stew, has been craftily created into a tasty burger. A portion of the food proceeds go to support talented children and encourage youth entrepreneurship. WILLIBURGER is still in the process of perfecting the dish and plans to expand its “kabritu burger” to various restaurants around the island. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/Williburgerclub.

DIVING NEWS

  • Trunkdivers to Expand Guided Dive Options

This month, Trunkdivers, one of the island’s dive operators, will add three new sites to its guided dive options. The first will take divers to see the caves of Watamula, an area known for its volcanic rock, before exploring a steep drop-off. The dive concludes at Playa Gepi, a small sandy cove on the island’s west coast. Another new guided dive option for advanced open-water certified divers is at North Shore, a site that sits 70-80 feet below sea level. Trunkdivers will also now offer a special archaeological dive in Sint Annabaai upon request. For more information, visit www.trunkdivers.com.

  • Hilton and Caribbean Sea Sports Launch Dive Package

The Hilton Curaçao has partnered with Caribbean Sea Sports to offer a special four-night dive package, which includes accommodations, daily breakfast and WiFi, along with six dives. Travelers will enjoy a two-tank dive each morning to some of Curaçao’s 65 distinct dive sites and will be provided with a tank, weight belt and BCD. The package starts at $530/person and is valid for booking now through June 30, 2017 with travel from May 1-July 31, 2017. To book, call 5999-462-5000 ext. 6011, or email: [email protected]@hilton.com.

  • Substation Curaçao Aids Medical Research

Substation Curaçao has partnered with Sirenas MD, a California-based pharmaceutical company that researches new medicines by studying marine biodiversity. Together, the organizations recently completed a trip to Klein Curaçao in search of new sponges that contain chemical entities that modulate human immune response. The dives were completed in late March and ranged between 300 and 1,000 feet. The crew aboard the mini submarine discovered several new sponges, which are currently being researched in the company’s San Diego facility. For more information, visit www.substation-curacao.com.

  • CURious 2 Dive Offers New Dive and Lionfish Experience

CURious 2 Dive now offers a two-tank dive every Thursday to East Point, a pristine reef on the island’s eastern tip that’s home to a school of tarpon, sharks, eagle rays, barracuda, and turtles. Once the divers resurface, the guides will teach participants how to clean any lionfish that were caught, which can then be sampled at The Pier, a restaurant in the Jan Thiel area. For more information, visit www.curious2dive.com.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Destination News

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Barbados targeting families for summer with new campaign

The Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.’s (BTMI) summer campaign, ‘Brilliant Barbados: Kids Stay and Play Free’, is placing a strong emphasis on added value for kids as they promote Barbados as an ideal destination for families.

“Summer is traditionally a heavy family travel period for us,” reported William ‘Billy’ Griffith, CEO of the BTMI. “In response to that, we’ve developed this campaign in association with key partners here, including hotels and attractions, as we aim to be more competitive to the family audience.”

Under this campaign, kids 16-years-old or younger stay free in participating hotels and play free at participating attractions when accompanied by at least one paying adult. The offer is valid for travel dates between May 1 and October 31, 2017.

“We currently have over 50 accommodations participating in the summer campaign, across several categories,” Griffith added. “From all-inclusive options such as Savannah Beach Hotel on the South Coast, to luxury hotels such as The Crane in the East, as well as a number of villas, condos and apartments; we made sure we are appealing to every class of traveller.”

Rudy Grant, CEO of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BTHA), lauded the BTMI for working with the BHTA to develop the summer campaign. “Joint marketing actions by the BHTA and the BTMI, the marketing arm of Barbados’ tourism industry, creates the ideal partnership for the development of the tourism industry. It allows us to execute comprehensive, cohesive programmes that will appeal to our target markets. The variety of accommodation properties participating in this programme illustrates the diversity of the Barbados tourism product, and creates a better opportunity to entice diverse families looking for the perfect summer holiday. Programmes like these help to reduce the seasonality we normally experience in the hotel sector.”

Entry to several attractions is also being offered to families to enrich their stay. Kids and their parents can enjoy a unique underwater experience in the Atlantis submarine, tee off at Barbados Golf Club, and explore the rugged side of Barbados on an Island Safari, just to name a few.

Strategically enhancing with digital

“We are already marketing the Brilliant Barbados campaign aggressively in all of our international markets through our traditional channels; however we are also supplementing these efforts with a strategic, integrated digital marketing component,” Griffith announced.

The BTMI launched a microsite, www.brilliantbarbados.com, which houses all of the information for the campaign, including descriptions of participating accommodations and attractions. Visitors can discover the uniqueness of destination Barbados, and follow the steps to book their stay.

The campaign is also supported by other digital initiatives including robust social media campaigns on Facebook and Instagram, as well as newsletters and online advertising in prime digital real estate.

“As consumers’ booking habits continue to diversify, we are charged with ensuring we remain competitive, particularly in the digital field. Barbados was recently ranked number one in the English-speaking Caribbean for overall Tourism and Travel Competitiveness in a biennial report published by the World Economic Forum. One of our strongest performing areas was Prioritization of Travel and Tourism Competitiveness, where we ranked number eight in the world. We also had a particularly strong performance in ICT readiness compared to the rest of the region. We therefore see investing in digital as a tactical means of honing our strengths as a destination,” Griffith said.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Destination News

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Pure Grenada, the Spice of the Caribbean is ‘Free to Wonder’

(St. George’s, Grenada) 25th April, 2017— Pure Grenada, the Spice of the Caribbean is free to wonder; a fitting catchphrase for the Grenada Tourism Authority’s exciting new lifestyle campaign launched under the umbrella of the Pure Grenada, the Spice of the Caribbean brand. The ‘Free To Wonder’ lifestyle campaign digital launch took place at the GTA headquarters on Tuesday 25th April. The campaign which complements the mainstay Pure Grenada brand combines Grenada’s gorgeous backdrop scenery with focus on everyday people who are free to wonder at the many things they can see and do in the destination. Chief Executive Officer of the GTA Patricia Maher introduced the campaign saying ‘Free To Wonder’ is an emotional connection to the tactical Pure Grenada brand. She said quote, “It portrays people like you and me wondering at the beauty of this pure and unspoilt place; that is what we offer visitors and locals alike; and being a safe destination, you are free to wonder on our pristine beaches, free to wonder at our refreshing waterfalls, free to wonder at our treasures beneath the sea and free to wonder with our lovely people.”

Marketing Manager for the GTA Francine Stewart told the gathering of stakeholders and media that ‘Free To Wonder’ is a strategic move on the part of the GTA to enhance the Pure Grenada brand. She said, “ We are proud of this lifestyle campaign and it will be launched in our main markets by our Public Relations and sales partners.” Stewart also thanked local companies Hexive Creative Agency and Grengraphics for creating the campaign and bringing it to fruition. She said, “ It is a pleasure to have worked along with Grenadians to develop this wonderful campaign.”

Immediately following the press launch, the ‘Free To Wonder’ lifestyle campaign was launched digitally via the GTA’s social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter). Followers on social media were encouraged to use the #FreeToWonder in addition to #PureGrenada on GTA’s social media handles @discovergrenada. GTA officials assured stakeholders that the ‘Free To Wonder’ campaign images will be shared with them to maximise their marketing of the destination and their services.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Destination News

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CTO seeks to strengthen relationship with Emirates Holidays

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (24 April, 2017) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the region’s tourism development agency, is seeking to strengthen its relationship with Emirates Holidays, the largest airline tour operator in the Middle East, as it seeks to broaden the Caribbean’s appeal in the Arabian Market.

Meetings with the tour operator have been scheduled this week during Arabian Travel Market (ATM) from 24-27 April, to build on the relationship which began last year when the CTO conducted an in-house training programme in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) for 40 Emirates Holidays reservations, sales and operation staff to familiarize them with the Caribbean product. This after Emirates airlines had announced fights from Dubai to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with a code share agreement with Jet Blue, that opened up numerous Caribbean destinations to the United Arab Emirates.

Joining the CTO UK team at this year’s event – which will include meetings with Royal Caribbean International and other tour operators and social media influencers from the UAE, India and Norther Europe, as well as Caribbean destination briefings with key travel agents within the market – are Jamaica’s minister of tourism Ed Bartlett and officials of the Bahamas ministry of tourism.

“Arabian Travel Market presents a great opportunity for the Caribbean to take our product and services to a wider market. There is a great deal of interest in the Caribbean, and our sporting and cricketing legends have really helped to peak interest in the Caribbean throughout the Middle East and Asia,” said Carol Hay, the CTO’s director of marketing for the UK and Europe.

“We are particularly excited about the opportunity to host two destination briefings for the travel agents, as we know that product knowledge and networking is key to expanding our reach in these markets. It’s also important to have a sustained presence at international tourism events; tourism is an international business, and it is import to be in the arena where important decisions and contacts are made.”

Following ATM the CTO will host and present roadshows across Ireland, Scotland, Scandinavia and Finland from 9-23 May, visiting  Belfast, Dublin and Cork in Ireland; Bergen (Norway), Stockholm (Sweden), Helsinki (Finland) and Aarhus (Denmark); and Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland.

The CTO recently returned from hosting six Caribbean roadshows in France, visiting the cities of Rouen, Caen, Rennes, Nantes, Angers and Tours, and was joined by AMResorts, Barceló Hotels Group, the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board & Film Commission, Discover Dominica Authority and the Jamaica Tourist Board.  The Bahamas ministry of tourism also supplied brochures and a small presentation.

These partners had the opportunity to network and present their destinations and products to over 100 travel agents and tour operators at the events, which attracted key industry professionals from the French market, all interested in learning more about the Caribbean region.

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CTO Earth Day Message 2017 by Hugh Riley, Sec. Gen. CTO

CTO Earth Day Message 2017

by Hugh Riley, Secretary General, Caribbean Tourism Organization

Theme: Environmental and Climate Literacy – The Caribbean is Taking Action

As the world pauses to celebrate Earth Day today, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is pleased to declare its support for actions that make a difference.

It is no secret that the very foundation of Caribbean tourism is our unparalleled natural environment; one that is rich in biodiversity, is virtually unpolluted, boasts landscapes that draw visitors from across the globe, and sustains life and livelihood. In the Caribbean we have a sacred duty to protect these assets by insisting on the development and adoption of sustainable tourism practices, while responsibly sharing our natural treasures with travellers to our shores.

As the Caribbean’s tourism development agency whose purpose is: Leading Sustainable Tourism – One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean, the CTO is intimately attuned with the need to respect our earth. It is our belief that there will always be conflict between respect for our planet and the desire to profit from invaluable natural assets that we possess.  Moreover,  we must recognize that destroying our planet in pursuit of economic growth is an existential threat to both present and future generations.

It is for this very reason that the CTO strives to position the Caribbean as a truly sustainable tourism region – a region that leads the global response to climate change by pursuing carbon neutrality, one that actively manages its land, water, and energy resources and decisively employs  technologies that drive resource efficiencies across its tourism supply chains. CTO will also continue to provide the relevant authorities with the tools and data necessary to activate tourism policies and regulations that serve the best interest of the region, while advocating for more responsible behaviour from the larger nations around the world.

We are pleased that Earth Day 2017 focuses on Environmental and Climate Literacy, as we have been developing our Caribbean Tourism Climatic Bulletin in partnership with our colleagues at the Caribbean Institute for Metrology and Hydrology (CIMH). Once finalized, this  bulletin will be a guiding tool for tourism policymakers and businesses to better understand how climate change will impact their livelihoods, and how they can adapt for success while contributing to a better state of affairs.

When seeking to protect our planet, one of the greatest challenges is to enlist all citizens to join the effort. The Caribbean Tourism Organization, through its trained professionals and in conjunction with global and regional partners, is pleased to provide guidance and information on how the actions of any individual can be an effective part of the solution. Happy Earth Day 2017.

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The Grenada Invitational Legacy: Tourism Industry

(St. George’s, Grenada) 11th April, 2017— Everyone’s buzzing about Grenada. That’s the feedback the Grenada Tourism Authority  (GTA) has been receiving from our international partners following the hosting of the historic inaugural Grenada Invitational. The live broadcast of the Invitational was estimated to reach 90 million homes worldwide via ESPN2. During that time, viewers were treated to gorgeous visual presentations of Pure Grenada’s stunning scenery, friendly people and abundant activities for visitors through adverts and promotional videos provided by the GTA.

According to CEO of the Grenada Tourism Authority Patricia Maher, “The GTA on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism was delighted to support the hosting of the first Grenada Invitational as we valued the opportunity to showcase Pure Grenada, the Spice of the Caribbean to the world.” She further stated, “Our Marketing Manager Francine Stewart dedicated her time and resource to the Local Organizing Committee over an intensive six-month period and the GTA together with our PR Agency CAMC organised our first international press trip group for the year around the event. By all accounts, Grenada got the global brand visibility we were looking for with worldwide coverage of over 90 million viewers of the event on ESPN. The marketing exposure we received for our tourism destination was priceless”.

The 2017 Grenada Invitational was the first event of the track and field season and it attracted some of the top athletes in the world including Grenada’s Kirani James, Asafa Powell, Veronica Campbell Brown and Justin Gatlin.  It was a historic moment for Grenada as the achievements of the country’s first Olympic medalist were immortalized with the Athletics Stadium being renamed the Kirani James Athletics Stadium. This moment was crowned by James winning the 400m race to the jubilation of the crowd. Some of the other athletes either posted personal best times or broke national records. Apart from competing, they took time to enjoy Grenada’s natural beauty and they are sharing with the world via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

As for the five members of the GTA organised press trip from Canada, the USA and the Caribbean, they thoroughly enjoyed their experience and are excited to write about destination Pure Grenada. Their social media accounts are buzzing with every moment of their trip including getting the chance to meet Grenadian Olympian Kirani James. The group includes: US travel writer Sarah Greaves Gabbadon (JetSetSarah), Travel Pulses Brian Major, US Journalist Robert Curley, Canadian Travel Press Ann Christine Ruppenstein and Kimberley Honey who writes for the Toronto Star.

According to Grenada Invitational officials, the event will be rebroadcast on Tuesday 11th April, 2017 from 8 to 11pm Eastern time on ESPN Caribbean Network. As part of the arrangement, the 2017 Grenada Invitational will be shown on various ESPN Digital Platforms within a three-month window from the date of the event. Overall, the Grenada Tourism Authority believes that the hosting of the Grenada Invitational and coverage via ESPN will boost arrivals in Grenada in the coming months from all source markets. The GTA would also like to add its special thanks to the Grenada Hotel and Tourism Association for its support during the hosting of the event.

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UNWTO/CTO Workshop ends with commitment to improve tourism product and stakeholder engagement

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, 5 April 2017 – A regional workshop on sustainable destination management and marketing has ended in Saint Lucia with a commitment by participants to improve the tourism product and stakeholder engagement.

The 27-31 March workshop, organised by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the United Nations agency, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), brought together 26 stakeholders in the tourism industry from 12 CTO member countries to explore ways to make their destinations and the region more globally competitive.

“The workshop is a very pertinent one.  It gives the stakeholders an opportunity to look at sustainable tourism, which is very important to our territories and Caribbean countries,” said Percival Hanley, the general manager of Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park Society in St. Kitts.

“Tourism is one of the major industries for our countries and very meaningful to our economies, and is one of the growing industries that will significantly affect our area, not just now but well into the future,” he added.

During the five-day seminar, participants shared best practices, including the successes of destinations outside the Caribbean.

It was an eye opener for Elecia Myers, the senior director for strategic planning and evaluation at the Jamaica ministry of tourism, who said she would now look at sustainable destination management and marketing in a more strategic light.

“I’ve been looking at how I can institute systems at the national level to ensure there is follow through within our agencies, and within our stakeholder practitioners – hoteliers, attractions, transport service providers  – how to infuse strategic planning in a more meaningful and measurable way so we can track it over time,” she said.

For the Turks and Caicos Islands the sessions were quite important because the country is at the crossroads as to where it wants to go in terms of tourism development, said Brian Been, the senior product development officer at the Turks and Caicos Tourist Board.

“Whenever we talk about sustainability, we tend to lean on the environmental side, and not realise there must be a balanced approach,” he said.

The workshop came at a time when destinations are paying greater attention to product development, and social media is changing the way tourism marketing is done.

Among the key areas explored were innovation in marketing, destination competitiveness, developing sustainable tourism experiences and successful models in destination management and marketing. The participants were also able to take the learning process out of the classroom and  into the real world by going on study tours to Fond Latisab Creole Park, Lushan Country Life and Sulphur Springs and Volcano for real-life experiences.

“Sustainable destination management and marketing is an area that most of the countries in our region are looking at seriously – how to we effectively market and manage our destinations so we can be globally competitive,” said Bonita Morgan, the CTO’s director of resource mobilization and development.

The executive training workshop was organized by the CTO and the UNWTO through its Themis Foundation, and was held in collaboration with the Saint Lucia ministry of tourism and the board of tourism.

“This UNWTO/CTO workshop main objective was to constitute a participative platform where we all could share experiences and knowledge as well as instruments that can be applied back in participants’ countries, institutions, businesses and destinations. And I believe we have achieved that objective by bridging theory and practice in a very participative workshop,” said Alba Fernández Alonso, the course coordinator at the Themis Foundation, the entity responsible for implementing the UNWTO’s education and training programme.

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