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CTO Signs MOU with AirBnB

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (7 Feb. 2017) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the region’s tourism development agency, and Airbnb, whose community marketplace provides access to millions of unique accommodations, today signed a landmark agreement to develop a set of policy principles and recommendations on the sharing economy for Caribbean governments and other stakeholders.

Under the agreement, signed at the CTO’s headquarters secretary general and chief executive officer Hugh Riley and Airbnb’s Shawn Sullivan, public policy director for Central America the Caribbean, both organizations will share data and studies with policymakers about the positive impact of the sharing economy in the region; identify ways to make it more inclusive; and broaden the benefits of tourism to non-traditional actors, attract new stakeholders and focus on providing amazing and unique travel and cultural experiences to visitors.

This partnership agreement will also provide to the CTO an economic analysis of Airbnb’s positive impact on local economies. By reviewing Airbnb’s aggregate data, key stakeholders will be briefed on the value of a peer-to-peer review mechanisms, at the same time Caribbean government officials and other stakeholders learn about the long term benefits of the sharing economy and home sharing in particular.

“The CTO is establishing a basis for mutual cooperation with Airbnb. It is important for us to examine all aspects of this important segment of the sharing economy. We believe that by clearly understanding Airbnb’s massive influence in capturing consumers’ interest in unique accommodations we will be in a position to properly advise our members and to allow the Caribbean to achieve the goals of year-round profitability, visitor satisfaction and sustainable tourism development,” Mr. Riley said.

Currently, there are 41 thousand listings across the Caribbean and a typical host in the Caribbean earns approximately US$3,900 per year. Today’s agreement will also help to identify new ways to market the Caribbean as a region: One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean and grow the tourism industry.

“This is an exciting partnership for Airbnb. We look forward to working with the CTO to develop policy recommendations for regional governments and other stakeholders on the sharing economy. The Caribbean is an important and growing market for Airbnb and we expect continued growth there,” Mr. Sullivan said.

With this cooperation agreement, Airbnb will continue promoting tourism and highlighting Caribbean history and culture. The strategy focuses on the diversification of the tourism industry and the expansion of the economic opportunities for the Caribbean people

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Corporate News

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CTO Declares 2017 “Year of Adventure” in the Caribbean

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (Jan. 10, 2017) – On the heels of last year’s successful Year of Romance, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has declared 2017 the Year of Adventure in the Caribbean. This year the region will celebrate everything from adrenaline-pumping active pursuits to local culture and casually sampling experiences unique to a specific CTO destination.

“Adventure comes in different degrees for travelers. For some, it is zip lining high above a valley or speeding around a motor racing circuit. For others, an adventure is simply exploring local communities to learn their language and customs, and teasing the senses with new cultural and culinary experiences,” said Hugh Riley, Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer of CTO.

The 2017 Caribbean Year of Adventure will be promoted through social media and traditional media channels and will create opportunities for travelers and vacation planners to share their experiences and ideas of an adventure-filled Caribbean vacation throughout 2017. CTO has adopted the hashtag #CaribbeanAdventure and encourages all member countries and hotels to use the hashtag when posting images via social media networks. While each destination is unique and inviting in its own right, the common denominator of all Caribbean destination vacations is travelers yearning to enjoy a Caribbean Adventure – no matter how laid-back or thrilling the activity may be.

Through the campaign, CTO and its member countries and hotels will highlight the Caribbean as the leading choice for a vacation filled with adventure for consumers and travel planners selling the region. The theme is designed as a catalyst for sellers and promoters of group travel, family adventure and friend-cations, as well as weddings and honeymoons. Visitors too, will be invited to submit thoughts on their most memorable Caribbean adventures.

 “With a variety of destinations to discover, the Caribbean provides the ultimate vacation playground highlighted by picture-perfect landscapes and ideal weather for an abundance of land and water activities,” said Riley. “The Year of Adventure will highlight the range of activities offered throughout the Caribbean. It’s a theme which can easily be embraced by all CTO member destinations 365 days a year,” Riley noted.

Throughout 2017, the CTO, in cooperation with its private sector partner the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), will assist member countries and hotels with an assortment of ideas which can be implemented around the theme of adventure to appeal to consumers, travel agents and tour operators. Initiatives will be developed around:

 ·     “Once-in-a-Lifetime” getaways (volcano discoveries, helicopter tours, etc.)

·     “There’s a first time for everything” vacations (zip lining, scuba diving, go-kart racing, etc.)

·     Family and “Friends-cation” discovery journeys (whale watching, swimming with dolphins, world-heritage site explorations, etc.)

·     Wellness adventures (Paddle Board Yoga, Aqua Parkour, Tai Chi, etc.)

·     Dine-around delicacy vacations focusing on unique food offerings

Tours can often conveniently be arranged at a resort’s on-property tour desk. Licensed and insured on-island tour companies bring travelers beyond their resort and into the heart of the destination where guests can immerse themselves in parasailing, snorkeling and kayaking; zip line adventures; fishing charters; dolphin and whale watching; horseback riding along the beach; helicopter tours; swimming with dolphins; volcano discoveries; sailing expeditions; rain forest hikes; island exploring; tasting rich flavors and rum factory tours; celebrating Caribbean festivals, perhaps in full costume; and much more.

“We anticipate that in addition to the ideas we provide our members, the countries and hotels will develop their own plan of action for promoting adventure in their individual destinations,” said Riley adding: “The theme is inclusive of a wide range of partners, activities, age ranges and tastes. Ultimately, the aim is for our visitors to have fun with this. The Caribbean is proud of its diversity of exciting experiences and we encourage visitors to explore their own sense of adventure when they visit our shores.”

Posted in: 2017 News, Corporate News

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Caribbean Tourism Organization trains Emirates Holiday staff

LONDON, UK, 24 November, 2016 –   The largest airline tour operator in the Middle East has been given a detailed introduction to the Caribbean as Emirates Airlines prepares to service the region.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) recently 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.

The training included key selling points, along with information on attractions, events and accommodations options.

The invitation to the CTO to conduct the training is part of a growing relationship between the region’s tourism development agency and Emirates Holidays, the tour-operating arm of Emirates airline which has now chosen to operate flights from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with connections to the Caribbean on Jet Blue.

“We have been nurturing this relationship for a number of years, meeting with Emirates Holidays at the Arabian Travel Market to ensure that the Caribbean remained a viable option,” said Carol Hay, the CTO’s director of marketing for the UK and Europe.

“Once the flight to Fort Lauderdale was announced, we were really pleased to be given the opportunity to provide technical support, and train their frontline staff.  We will continue to work with Emirates Holidays and develop strategic programmes to increase awareness of the Caribbean and grow business to the Caribbean.  We have the product, so with airlift there is increased potential,” Ms. Hay added.

The CTO was joined in Dubai by the Bahamas Tourist Office, Jamaica Tourist Board and Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board. The Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. also supplied brochures and information.

The product executive at Emirates Holidays Anish Mohan said the tour operator now had a better understanding of what the Caribbean has to offer.

“Destination knowledge is key in order to confidently sell the products in the destination. The Caribbean training was well structured and gave us a detailed insight as to what the Caribbean destinations can offer to each client segments – couples, families, group of friends.  We also understood why the Caribbean destination are unique, gained a perspective of the tourism seasonality and the must- do attractions and the choice of accommodation options available in each destination. The highlight was the explanation by the relevant destination experts about the culture and various Caribbean festivals,” Mr. Mohan said.

Discussions are currently underway between the CTO and Emirates Holidays to continue the training with the travel trade across the UAE in 2017, supported by a multi destination fam trip.

The CTO is currently coordinating the Caribbean’s participation at the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2017, and welcomes enquires from CTO member countries and hotel partners.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Corporate News

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CTO welcomes more than 250 travel agents at trade show and seminar in the North Eastern USA

NEW YORK, NY (8 Nov, 2016) – The Caribbean remains a top seller for Travel Impressions, one of the largest leisure tour operators in the United States.

“Of our 200 destinations, 23 of the countries we sell most frequently are found in the Caribbean. The islands and resorts in the region have been integral partners throughout our 42-year history, and it’s important to celebrate and support tourism to one of the most gorgeous and popular vacation regions in the world,” said Tim Statz, Travel Impression’s business development manager.

Travel Impressions was one of 22 Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) members and partners who joined the recent Caribbean Goes Road Shows & Seminars to the east coast of the United States, with stops in New Haven, CT, Collingswood, NJ and Boston, Massachusetts.

More than 250 top-producing travel agents were brought up to date on “Caribbean Romance and More” through presentations, tradeshows, seminars and networking meetings.

“There is a renewed level of interest in the Caribbean among travel professionals, and as a region we should embrace this opportunity. The CTO road shows provided a platform for destinations and members of the private sector to showcase their products under one umbrella,” said Christine Noel-Horsford, the Grenada Tourism Authority’s  director of sales and marketing in the US, and a co-chair of the east coast series of the CTO’s Caribbean Goes road show.

“The north east is our number one source market, and we look forward to seeing a spike in business from those areas,” she added.

Along with Noel-Horsford, Lorine St. Jules, the director of marketing in the US for the Saint Lucia Tourist Board co-chaired the east coast road shows. She, too, spoke of the importance of this event to her country.

“Saint Lucia was pleased to participate in the CTO road shows as it provided unique opportunities to highlight our island’s romantic attributes to a leading market of travel agents,” St. Jules said. “Romance and adventure have been two compelling niches for Saint Lucia and this lineage allowed us to stand out as a destination.”

With romance being a leading feature during the road shows, the presence of the region’s top expert on the subject added even greater value for the travel agents and to the event.

Jacqueline Johnson, the president and chief executive officer of Global Bridal Group, which includes MarryCaribbean.com, described the events as “excellent”, and was highly complementary of the participating destinations.

“The Caribbean Goes Road Shows were excellent. Every detail was thought of and implemented, there were lots of agents at each stop and most important, the destinations participating were all on their game. I am proud and honoured to be involved with this prestigious organization,” she said.

The main objectives of these road shows are to raise awareness of the Caribbean as America’s premier warm-weather holiday destination and to keep top-producing travel agents up-to-date with the latest developments and the variety of experiences that the Caribbean offers to help them drive business to the region.

The road show locations were selected based on a combination of elements, including travel agents with a propensity to book Caribbean travel, demographics of travellers, proximity of airports, as well as current and new airlift to the Caribbean.

“Our Caribbean Goes Road Shows provide our members with the opportunity to meet travel agents in key feeder markets where the Caribbean is sold,” Sylma Brown, director of CTO USA said.

“The shows will help agents capitalize on new offerings such as Caribbean-bound Delta Air Line flights from Boston and new service on JetBlue from Newark International Airport.”

Participating destination and partners of the 2016 east coast shows included: Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Caribbean Airlines, Celebrity Cruises, Central Holidays, Club Med, Delta Air Lines, Dominica, GoGo Vacations, Grenada, MarryCaribbean.com; Martinique, Radisson Grenada Beach Resort, Saint Lucia, Tobago, Travel Impressions, Turks and Caicos Collection, Sandals & Beaches Resorts and Vacation Express.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Corporate News

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CTO Statement on Effect of Hurricane Matthew

STATEMENT BY HUGH RILEY, SECRETARY GENERAL, THE CARIBBEAN TOURISM ORGANIZATION, ON THE EFFECT OF HURRICANE MATTHEW

FRIDAY 7 OCTOBER, 2016

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life and the extensive damage inflicted on our member countries and neighbours by the dangerous Hurricane Matthew, described as the most powerful storm to hit the Caribbean in a decade. Even in its weaker form as a tropical storm it inflicted loss.

Our prayers are with the Government and People of Haiti where the death toll has soared to more than 400 and where there is still not full recovery from the destructive earthquake of 2010.

We also express our prayers and concerns for The Bahamas – which still has not received the all-clear and which has been recovering from last year’s Hurricane Joaquin. We await a full assessment of the damage in The Bahamas, as well as in St. Vincent and the Grenadines where a young man lost his life when Matthew struck as a tropical storm.

Several other CTO member countries, including Cuba, Dominica, Jamaica and Saint Lucia have been impacted by the storm; and while we are thankful that there was no loss of life in those countries, we are conscious of the fact that they have suffered some level of damage. Still, we are thankful that life is getting back to normal in those countries and they are open for business.

For the worst affected countries the impact, both physical and psychological, will be long-lasting. We offer our sincerest condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives and to those who are grieving their loss, and we assure our support to those who are touched in one way or another.

It is evident that in the aftermath of the storm the immediate challenge is to alleviate suffering and provide the necessary support. In the days and weeks ahead we at the CTO and throughout our member countries in the Caribbean will work with our private sector partners the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and others, to do whatever is necessary to offer assistance and to coordinate relief efforts.

We have immense confidence in the strength and resolve of our people to prevail.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Corporate News

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The Bahamas Elected Chair of the CTO

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (15 September, 2016) – The Bahamas has been elected Chair of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).  Minister of Tourism for the Bahamas, Obie Wilchcombe, is the new CTO Chairman.

New CTO Chairman Obie Wilchcombe of the Bahamas (right) receives the gavel from his predecessor Richard Sealy of Barbados. Also in photograph, CTO secretary general Hugh Riley (left)

New CTO Chairman Obie Wilchcombe of the Bahamas (right) receives the gavel from his predecessor Richard Sealy of Barbados. Also in photograph, CTO secretary general Hugh Riley (left)

The election took place on September 15th in Barbados, at the organization’s annual general meeting held during the CTO’s State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC).

Following his election, Mr. Wilchcombe stated: “I intend to build upon what [immediate predecessor Richard Sealy of Barbados] began and I also intend to build on the relationship with the private sector. I’ve always thought that CTO is the body that provides equity and we can (do that); and the way is to speak with the same voice. We also have to deal with the issue of inter-regional travel.”

Minister Wilchcombe will serve a two-year term. It is his second stint as chairman, having previously been elected to the position in 2002.

The Bahamas minister will shortly name his appointee for the post of Chairman of the CTO Board of Directors, since, according to the CTO Constitution, the Board Chairman and the Chairman of the Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism must come from the same Member Country. In addition to the election of the chairman, vice chairs were elected to serve on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors to represent various sub-groups – Curacao, represents the Dutch Caribbean; Martinique represents the French Caribbean; Barbados and Belize, represent the Independent CARICOM countries and the Turks & Caicos Islands represents the British Overseas Territories.  Each of these Member Countries will form the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors, which will be completed with representatives from the private sector.

Today’s vote was in keeping with the CTO constitution which mandates that elections must be held every two years.

This year’s conference at the Hilton Barbados Resort is organized in collaboration with Barbados’ Ministry of Tourism and International Transport and the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc and is sponsored by LIAT, the Caribbean Airline and Libris by Photoshelter.

Minister of Tourism and International Transport for Barbados and CTO Chairman Richard Sealy has a special message on SOTIC. To view the message, please click on the following link: http://bit.ly/2comjPC.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Corporate News, SOTIC

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Family Travel Association and Caribbean Tourism Organization announce partnership

NEW YORK, NY, 28 June, 2016: The Family Travel Association (FTA) and the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) have formally announced a partnership  to promote a travel agent educational programme for the Caribbean.  As part of the agreement, the CTO and CTO members who join the FTA will be eligible to work with the FTA and CTO in the development of educational material for travel agents. This includes webinars, editorial/content for trade partners, live events (conferences/trade show) participation, promotion on FamilyTravel.org and both the CTO and FTA newsletters.

“Our research indicates that 93 per cent of American parents are either “very likely” or “likely” to travel with their children in the next two years so we are thrilled to be working with the CTO and its members in not just inspiring families to travel, but to help travel agents better understand and sell the Caribbean to this complex demographic,” says Rainer Jenss, FTA President, who founded the organization in 2014 to create a single and collective voice on behalf of the travel industry and those companies that serve traveling families.

“Given the incredible wealth of experiences the Caribbean offers families, this partnership will ensure that travel agents are prepared to meet the needs of this highly lucrative market segment”, added Sylma Brown Bramble, Director CTO-USA, Inc. “We are particularly delighted about the value and opportunity the new FTA and CTO relationship will provide to the OneCaribbean Chapter (OCC) members.  Travel agents are one of our greatest assets in Caribbean destination travel and providing value to them through relationships like this is our way of showing appreciation for the great job that they do selling the Caribbean year after year”.

The One Caribbean Chapter (OCC) was created by the CTO  with the primary purpose of enabling a business environment in which travel professionals can gain access to knowledge of the region and its diverse tourism product; networking opportunities and education on the unique selling proposition of the various Caribbean destinations.

OCC is the vehicle which gives travel agents access and advantage to increase their business to over 28 Caribbean countries under the regional umbrella. The chapter provides education on the myriad niche products available in the Caribbean and destination support to prepare travel professionals for success in selling each country’s unique travel product.  oneCaribbeanchapter.org

For further information on the FTA and CTO upcoming webinars and programmes, please contact: programme and business development executive Wanda Fisher at  (510) 599-9844.

About the Family Travel Association
The Family Travel Association (FTA) was established in 2014 to mobilize the global travel industry around the large – and fast-growing – market for family travel. The organization is connecting the world’s leading travel suppliers, destinations, media brands, and influencers into a global network to grow the market by inspiring families to travel.  By harnessing the collective power and influence of its members, the FTA is educating travelers, the media, and travel agents on the variety of options families have when planning their vacations and what transformational benefits travel offers families.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Corporate News

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