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CTO Launches Relief Fund to Assist With Hurricane Aid Efforts

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (8 Sept, 2017) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has activated its “CTO Relief Fund” through GoFundMe to help families and countries rebuild after hurricanes, particularly in the wake of the massive category 5 Hurricane Irma, which has impacted a number of member countries.

All of the money raised through the CTO’s Relief Fund will be sent directly to CTO-member destinations affected by the catastrophic storm, which hit some countries with winds up to 185 mph.

“The damage caused by the force of Hurricane Irma is an important example of why we must do whatever is possible to provide financial relief to those who need it most. It’s through this fund that the CTO channels monetary assistance to our impacted member states,” CTO secretary general Hugh Riley said. “The CTO appreciates all donations to assist in the recovery efforts in these countries.”

For more information on CTO’s Relief Fund or to make a donation, visit www.gofundme.com/hurricane-relief-fund-cto.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Corporate News

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CTO & CACCI Create Cooperation Strategy for Diaspora for 2017-18

NEW YORK, NY (Aug. 21, 2017) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI) recently formalized a cooperation strategy between the two organizations to strengthen the role of the Caribbean Diaspora while sharing resources and creating sustainability for the people and the region.

“CACCI believes that now is indeed the time for serious, positive action. We stand ready to support the regional integration process and will continue to respond positively to the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), CARICOM, and OECS heads of government for assistance requested,” Dr. Roy A. Hastick Sr., the president and chief executive officer of CACCI  said in reference to the Caribbean Community and sub-regional grouping, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, as he introduced Hugh Riley, the secretary general of the CTO, to the member delegates.

Dr. Hastick continued, “This is an excellent opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to continue to work with you and your team, and continue the collaboration on which to build an even more unified and stronger Caribbean Community.”

In his remarks CACCI Board Chairman Mr. Edmund Sadio made mention of the longstanding relationship between CACCI and the CTO and the important role of CACCI’s founder in being an unofficial ambassador for the Caribbean Diaspora.

“As the tourism development agency for the Caribbean, the CTO recognizes the role of the Caribbean Diaspora in contributing to the tourism success of our member-countries, generating investment, stimulating a wide range of commercial activity, injecting significant amounts of foreign exchange, and influencing decisions at the highest levels of the public and private sectors,” said Riley.  “CACCI has been an influential force in building valuable business relationships between the Caribbean Diaspora and the decision-makers of New York City and New York State. Our communities continue to benefit from Dr. Hastick’s credo that business networking works.”

As part of the meeting, CTO and CACCI finalized arrangements for reciprocal membership, making each organization a member of the other with the two leaders formalizing the process by an exchange of documents and membership insignia.

The next steps are to begin implementing elements of the cooperation strategy for 2017-18, including investment prospects for the Caribbean, educational opportunities for Caribbean students, and CACCI’s involvement in Caribbean Week New York 2018 scheduled for June, which has been designated as National Caribbean-American Heritage Month in the U.S.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Corporate News

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CTO Calls For Greater Alliance Between U.S. and Caribbean With Respect to H.R.4939

CARIBBEAN TOURISM ORGANIZATION CALLS FOR UNITED STATES/CARIBBEAN STRATEGIC ALLIANCE IN FURTHERANCE OF U.S.-CARIBBEAN STRATEGIC ENGAGEMENT ACT Mechanism Incorporating Caribbean’s Tourism Working Group with Entities Tasked with Implementing the Act Will Be A Winning Formula, Says CTO Secretary General.

NEW YORK, NY (Aug. 18, 2017) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has called for a formal partnership between the region’s tourism sector and those responsible for implementing the United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act, known as H.R. 4939.

The Act, which was passed in the United States Congress on Dec. 13, 2016 and signed into law by then U.S. President Barack Obama three days later, mandates a new long-term strategy to strengthen ties between Washington, D.C. and the Caribbean region. It is designed to increase the security, prosperity and well-being of the people of the United States and the Caribbean.

Addressing the importance of the Act to Caribbean tourism at a recent meeting in Washington, D.C., CTO Secretary General Hugh Riley referenced a tourism working group established by Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government at their meeting in Guyana in February, to guide the development and marketing of Caribbean tourism.

This, Riley said, appears to align with the U.S. government’s strategy for the Caribbean on many areas related to sustainable development, and a mechanism that incorporates the Caribbean’s tourism working group with the entities tasked with implementing H.R.4939 would be a winning formula for both the U.S. and the Caribbean.

“What an accomplishment it would be for all of us and for the architects of H.R. 4939 if we could report back to our region’s prime ministers and presidents when we meet with them in February, that there is now a working partnership between the region’s tourism working group and the U.S. Caribbean Strategic Alliance. Our recommendation is that together, we waste no time in making that partnership a reality. Without doubt, shoring up the Caribbean’s main economic driver is the surest way to protect the third border of the United States,” Riley said.

His remarks were delivered during a panel focused on “building sustainable economies” as part of an event staged by the Caribbean-Central American Action (CCAA) titled: “Caribbean 2020 Implementing H.R. 4939 from Vision to Engagement.”

Select members of the U.S. Congress addressed the audience of Caribbean Diaspora, diplomats and public sector policy makers including the co-author of the legislation, Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member, The House Foreign Affairs Committee; Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Chairman, The Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere; Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Ranking Member, The Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations; and Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (D-VI), Ranking Member, The Subcommittee on the Interior, Energy, and Environment.

The Caribbean region is considered the United States’ “third border,” characterized by common interests and societal ties that yield daily, tangible benefits for U.S. citizens. The U.S. is the Caribbean’s primary trading partner, representing a vibrant economic partnership that, in 2016, saw a $4.6 billion trade surplus for the United States, 14 million U.S. tourist visits, and 11,042 Caribbean students studying in the U.S.

CCAA organized the half-day event to move discussions along between the U.S. and key stakeholders involved with the Caribbean region. The meeting began with a discussion of the Act followed by a panel about “The Security Agenda” featuring discussions on the need for stronger regional cooperation and public-private partnerships to advance citizen security. The second panel, “The Prosperity Agenda” focused on the outlook for regional investment, building sustainable economies, and finance and trade options. The final panel “The Well-Being Agenda,” dedicated its discussions to the health, education and future of the Caribbean.”

During his presentation, Riley called for a balanced approach to the development of strategies and policies that are designed to spur tourism growth while protecting the resource base on which tourism depends.

He advocated for a sector-specific tourism approach that would provide the greatest effectiveness and long-term sustainability which would be carried out with partnerships between the CTO and the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA).

 

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Corporate News

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CTO Announces Winners of Caribbean Primary Schools Tourism Writing Competition

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (2 August, 2017) – Four Caribbean primary school students ranging in age from 8-12, will be honoured for excellence in tourism writing at next month’s Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum in St. Kitts.

The four –  Kassie Haley-Shai of St. Augustine Roman Catholic School in Montserrat, Ariah Khobie Diamante Darroux of  Convent Preparatory School  in Dominica (both in the 8-10 category), Jhe’auti Belyca Craigg of Belmont Government School in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Gabriella Lewis of Atwell’s Educational Institute in Trinidad and Tobago (10-12 category) – emerged winners among 44 participants  from 26 schools who participated in the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO)’s Caribbean Primary Schools Tourism Writing Competition.

The contest, held as part of activities for International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and the CTO’s Year of Adventure, was organised to enhance primary school students’ awareness of tourism and its value and contribution to the region’s social and economic development. It was also meant to challenge the students to think of creative ways to make tourism more sustainable.

The winners can be viewed here: http://www.onecaribbean.org/primary-school-tourism-writing-competition/

“I am very pleased with the level of interest exhibited in this initiative, as evidenced by the diversity of participating schools,” said Amanda Charles, the CTO’s sustainable tourism development specialist, whose department spearheads the Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum.

“The submissions were all of a high calibre, with the students displaying depth and creativity in their compositions. It is clear that even at the primary school level students are aware of the importance of tourism to the region, can speak eloquently about tourism in their countries and have some insight into the opportunities and challenges associated with tourism development.”

The students in the 8-10 category were asked to write about what sustainable tourism meant to them or how visitors and locals should act towards each other to promote peace, while those in the 10-12 category were challenged to conceptualise and describe a new adventure tour or to suggest ways that the CTO can help make tourism in the Caribbean more sustainable. The students in both categories were also given the option of writing on whether they felt tourism does indeed contribute to making the Caribbean region a better place, or to identify an adventure tourism activity in their countries and deliver a sales pitch to encourage tourists to experience that activity.

Themed, Good for Us, Better for All, the 6-8 September Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum is being held in observance of International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and will bring together local, regional, and international representatives from public and private sector tourism entities, as well as development agencies that offer programming in sustainable tourism, for three days of interactive engagements.

Major elements will include best practice sharing and strategic consultations for a CTO climate adaptation project funded by the Caribbean Development Bank, in order to strengthen holistic destination management approaches in the Caribbean. The programme will also include experiential field visits, a meeting of CTO’s Sustainable Tourism Technical Committee, and winning presentations from CTO’s Primary School Tourism Writing Competition. The event culminates with the presentation ceremony for CTO’s 2017 Sustainable Tourism Awards which recognise regional sustainability champions.

Organising partners include the CTO, the St. Kitts Ministry of Tourism, the St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council, and Sustainable Travel International.

The winner of the 2014 CTO/Travel Mole Sustainable Tourism Award in Destination Stewardship, St Kitts is one of the first destinations in the world to be accepted as an early adopter of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s criteria for destinations. It also is a founding member of the Sustainable Destination Alliance of the Americas, an initiative by the CTO, the Organization of American States, Sustainable Travel International and Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited to promote sustainable destination management in the Caribbean and Central America.

Its many initiatives include the establishment of the Heart of St. Kitts Foundation and Sustainability Charter, which helps businesses understand how their operations contribute to destination-wide sustainability, and to support community projects that make St. Kitts a more sustainable place to live and experience.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Climate Smart Forum, Corporate News

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Caribbean Leaders Agree to Fast Track Measures to Ease Caribbean Travel

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (31 July, 2017) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) are encouraged by the support of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders for initiatives to facilitate travel and stimulate economic growth through tourism.

The CTO, with the support of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, presented a number of short, medium and long-term proposals to the regional leaders at their recent summit in Grenada, aimed at positioning the Caribbean as a thriving world-class tourism, and bolstering the region’s economic strength and stability.

In the presentation entitled Tourism in the Region: Building a Caribbean Tourism Development and Marketing Initiative, the region’s tourism leaders recommended advancing research to better assess tourism’s economic impact and the region’s competitiveness.  They also discussed removing travel barriers, stimulating travel to and within the Caribbean, supporting the development of Caribbean talent through a coordinated approach to tourism-related education and training, and strengthening the creative industries and economic linkages to tourism.

Marketing and public relations of the Caribbean brand and creating a public-private sector entity financed and managed collaboratively also received consideration at the meeting.

The heads of government have said the proposed initiatives were fully aligned with CARICOM’s own strategic plan and were also in furtherance of the strategic plan for tourism services.

The leaders have also said they recognised the opportunities presented by the recommended strategies, including a strong focus on marketing, aimed at stimulating sustainable growth in tourism.

In a communique issued after the summit, the leaders said they had agreed to support various public-private sector initiatives, broaden engagement with Caribbean countries, companies and multilateral organizations to support a regional tourism marketing and development initiative and adopt and implement travel facilitation measures to stimulate economic growth.

“Heads of Government agreed that the establishment of a single airspace should be pursued and mandated the Secretariat to work with Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System (CASSOS) and relevant agencies to define a roadmap and identify the necessary resources for its implementation,” the communique reads.

However, the heads of government  said they recognised the need for the administrative strengthening of the legal, operational and institutional framework as well as the appropriate resourcing of the CASSOS to enable it to discharge its mandate as an effective and efficient regional safety oversight organisation.

The CTO and CHTA have long lobbied for the removal of the hurdles that make it difficult to travel to, and through, the region, arguing the removal of many of the restrictions would encourage greater regional and international travel and stimulate economic growth.

Among its recommendations is a new multilateral air services agreement, which the leaders said “only required resolution of very few matters”.

Therefore, they mandated the CARICOM secretariat to work with member countries “to enable signature at the next inter-sessional meeting” in February 2018.

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Caribbean Development Bank supports CTO’s Service and Business Excellence Programme

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (25 July, 2017) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO)’s continued efforts at promoting service and business excellence in the region’s tourism and hospitality sector has received a financial boost from the regional financial institution that focuses on harmonious economic growth and development in the Caribbean.

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), through its Caribbean Technological Consultancy Services (CTCS) Network is providing US$223,312 in support of the two key components of the Hospitality Assured (HA) Caribbean certification programme managed by the CTO as part of its product development and service quality thrust.

The funds will be used to engage business advisors and assessors to help strengthen the business performance and overall competitiveness of tourism-related micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in ten CDB borrowing member countries through the HA programme.

“Our region needs to boost its reputation for service and business excellence and pay attention to the overall visitor experience. The Hospitality Assured framework provides the tool to drive this effort,” said Bonita Morgan, the CTO’s director of resource mobilization and development, and the CTO official with overall responsibility for the HA programme.

“We are thankful to the CDB, through the CTCS Network, for supporting this effort to help Caribbean tourism businesses shore up their competitiveness.”

“For several Caribbean economies, tourism is an engine of growth, and MSMEs have the potential to make significant contributions to the sector. CDB is pleased to be supporting CTO in delivering the HA Caribbean certification programme, and deeply value the role it plays in helping regional MSMEs deliver an even higher quality product and experience in an increasingly competitive global tourism market,” said Darran Newman, acting division chief, technical cooperation division, CDB.

Over the next year 30 businesses in the ten countries – Anguilla, Belize, the British Virgin Islands, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Turks & Caicos Islands will receive technical assistance as well as assessment services through the CDB funding.

The regional lending institution’s support for HA dates back to 2014 when, through the United Kingdom Department for International Development’s Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration Trust Fund, managed by the Bank,  it provided funding support for six businesses in Grenada to participate in the certification programme.

Last year, CDB, through the CTCS network, provided financial support to conduct a week-long business advisors training workshop organized by the CTO to equip 15 business advisors to provide technical assistance to tourism-related businesses participating  in the HA certification programme.

CTCS is managed within CDB’s Technical Cooperation Division and operated in cooperation with regional and national institutions, laboratories, industrial enterprises, and consultants. It comprises a network of institutions and experts, and has as its primary aim, transferring knowledge, skills and technology to improve managerial and operational efficiency and competitiveness of MSMEs through the provision of technical assistance.

Hospitality Assured is a certification programme promoting service and business excellence in tourism and hospitality companies.  It is owned by the Institute of Hospitality in the United Kingdom, and managed by the Caribbean Tourism Organization in the region.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Corporate News, Hospitality Assured

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World Environment Day Message 2017

The Caribbean today lends its energy, its people and its landscapes, to the observance of World Environment Day, with the rest of the global community.

This year, World Environment Day highlights the symbiotic relationship between people and nature, but also encourages the world to unplug from worries and from technological anchors and be at one with nature.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is pleased that the theme this year, “Connecting People to Nature”, implores the world to get outdoors, to appreciate nature’s beauty and importance, and to honour the call to protect the earth that we share.

The theme seems such a natural fit for the Caribbean which, so clearly epitomizes what the United Nations must have envisaged when it said: “On 5 June, go outside and show us that you’re #WithNature.”

There can be no better global invitation to experience the Caribbean, the corner of the world where consistently connecting people with nature is the bedrock of our tourism product. There can be no stronger international endorsement of our Year of Adventure, during which we encourage visitors and locals alike to, among other activities, indulge in multiple personal experiences with nature. There can be no greater universal recognition of our purpose, Leading Sustainable Tourism, One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean.

The Caribbean is one of few places on earth where it is perfectly fine to spend the day lazing around beneath the sun, and where hiking, horseback riding, snorkelling and even a bit of farming brings joy and livelihood to visitors and locals alike. In our warm and welcoming region, visitors are encouraged to lose track of time while exploring the great outdoors.

The CTO fully endorses the call for each of us to reflect on the extent to which we are part of nature, and how intimately we depend upon it. As the world accepts the challenge to find fun and exciting ways to forge vital relationships with the environment, we invite you to journey this path with us.

Our pledge on this World Environment Day is to encourage every traveller and every citizen to adopt as a lifelong mantra, respect for the environment and a true connection with nature. The Caribbean understands the joy that bond can bring and the importance of preserving it for future generations.

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