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SLJAF 2016 records a number of firsts

Castries – (May 09, 2016) – Early indicators are telling a story of a number of successes achieved from the staging of the 25th anniversary celebration of the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival. Among these are record attendance on each night of the mainstage events, sold-out venues well before gates opened, the vision for the infusion of the Arts being more fully realized and unprecedented levels of accommodation occupancy in the north of the island.

Deputy Director of the Saint Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB), Tracey Warner-Arnold, reports that ahead of the analysis from event surveys and the Festival’s exit survey which will give a more comprehensive assessment of the various operational aspects, lineup satisfaction, visitor arrivals and patronage, a number of clear indicators have emerged which validate some of the choices and decisions made for the Festival this year.

“Well ahead of the opening of the gates for each mainstage event, we exceeded ticket sales from our best prior years,” Mrs. Arnold said. Numbers to date show at least 1,000 more patrons consecutively at Pigeon Island Mainstage Saturday and Sunday in 2016 over the year 2010, which until this year, recorded the highest level of patronage ever. According to the SLTB Deputy Director, this kind of success is gratifying and encouraging and highlights the attractiveness of the lineup and the effectiveness of the festival marketing.

In his analysis of these numbers, Director of Tourism Louis Lewis said it validated the line-up as one that could achieve three essentials, namely commemorate a world class journey, bring the sing-along dynamic for Mother’s Day, and cater to a range of tastes while also remaining true to the foundational jazz roots of the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival.

On the strength of public opinion recorded via social media and event patronage, the 2016 Arts Component is described as having exceeded expectations.

“The Arts component for us has been the crowning glory of the Festival because in three short years we were able to demonstrate the vision we had for a Festival that is authentic to the destination in all its cultural and creative dimensions, and not one that resembles or patterns itself from any other,” explained Director of Tourism, Louis Lewis. In his assessment, the close SLTB and Cultural Development Foundation (CDF) partnership adds a value to the Festival which will be felt for years to come as an ideal model where a credible, colourful and compelling Saint Lucian aesthetic is infused into the Festival. According to Mr. Lewis, the visibility and educational value which the CDF/ SLTB collaboration achieved with respect to three national heroes – Sir Derek Walcott, Virginia Alexander and Sir Dunstan St. Omer – are significant because the Festival must also be evaluated in the context of sectoral development, and growth opportunities for Saint Lucian Artists and Artisans.

“These three icons epitomize the excellence of Saint Lucia’s literary, artistic and dance product. They are the bar, and creating a space within the Festival to tell their stories, showcase their journeys and celebrate their achievements does much for education and national pride.’

This year, the Arts infusion included a two night run of Sir Derek Walcott’s Omeros by Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, the Cultural Icon Series tribute to dance legend Virginia Alexander and the erection of an Arts Village which, according to the SLTB Director, served the aim of making the Arts a core part of the Festival programme, a model which will continue for the years to come.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Destination News

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Bahamas to Test Undersea Weddings Record

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama – A wedding campaign geared towards breaking the Guiness Book of World Records in undersea weddings was officially launched on Wednesday, May 4, 2016, at a press conference at the Grand Lucayan resort, the proposed site for the event next year.

In Deep Love Bahamas Limited, a Bahamian destination events management company, has scheduled the event to take place on February 14, 2017, Valentine’s Day, in Grand Bahama. Organizers hope to break the standard in the Guiness Book of World Records for undersea weddings, which is currently set at 34, by having 50 couples participate.

Alfred Collie Jr., creator and organizer of the campaign, notes the event will not only foster destination weddings, scuba diving and ecotourism in The Bahamas, but showcase the waters while bringing focus to their conservation.

“We are working to achieve a number of objectives by bringing couples from around the world to marry in the turquoise, crystal clear waters of The Bahamas. We also hope to unite the Bahamian people and the world behind a novel concept that brings immense international attention to ocean conservation while at the same time creating the ultimate wedding photo ops and memories.”

Director of Romance for the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Freda Malcolm, said “The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism is very excited about the ‘In Deep Love’ wedding promotion and fully endorses it. We have already received a huge amount of media interest from around the world, on the coverage of this great event, including news organizations from the United Kingdom, Brazil, France, Canada, and the United States of America.

“The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism has been aggressive, deliberate and innovative in its marketing initiatives to promote the Islands of The Bahamas as the premier wedding destination in the world.”

Betty Bethel, Director of Tourism for Grand Bahama, added that they were pleased Grand Bahama was chosen for this event. With the island being a ‘nature-based destination,’ it is the ideal location.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization has declared 2016 the ‘Year of Romance for the Caribbean’ and in November 2015, the Islands of The Bahamas were named the “Leading Wedding Destination” at the World Travel Awards in Morocco.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Destination News

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His Imperial Highness Prince Selassie enjoys Jamaica’s culture

Selassie 2MONTEGO BAY, JAMAICA – May 4, 2016 – HIS IMPERIAL HIGHNESS PRINCE SELASSIE  ENJOYS JAMAICA’S CULTURE -His Imperial Highness (HIH) Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie, Haile Selassie’s grandson, of Ethiopia and his spouse, Princess Saba Kebede were recently in Jamaica to participate in 50th anniversary celebrations of his grandfather’s Emperor Selassie’s visit. During his visit, HIH Prince Selassie enjoyed aspects of Destination Jamaica’s multifaceted tourism product. Above HIH Selassie (second left) and Princess Saba Kebede (second right), with Maracas in hand, enjoy the cultural presentation of the Hatfield Cultural Group at Meliá Braco Village. The couple also toured the Rose Hall Great House.

Selassie

His Imperial Highness (HIH) Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie of Ethiopia (left), also met Dmitri Kosvogiannis (right), General Manager, Melia Braco Village with the ‘Star of David’ gesture. The gesture is a symbol of Rastafarianism, a religious movement that began in Jamaica, which honours Emperor Haile Selassie as its leader. HIH Prince Selassie, is the grandson of Emperor Haile Selassie and was in Jamaica for the commemoration for the 50th anniversary of his grandfather’s visit to the island.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Destination News

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Antigua & Barbuda expects more Caribbean tourists for 60th Carnival Celebration

26 April 2016 – (St. John’s, Antigua) The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority and the Antigua and Barbuda Ministry of Tourism will host a chain of Carnival Roadshows across the Caribbean as Antigua’s Carnival – The Caribbean’s Greatest Summer Festival approaches its 60th year celebrations from July 22 – August 2, 2016.

The initiative, which involves partners from the Department of Culture and small hotel properties on the island, promotes the hotels’ special summer offers and also encourages Caribbean travel to Antigua for the summer festival.

Regional Marketing Manager at the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA) Charmaine Spencer said, “Our Caribbean arrivals reported for the year to date have grown by 41%.  The roadshows are a strategic move to build critical relationships with our travel industry partners within the Caribbean, encourage travel around Antigua’s signature and emerging events, and see further growth in Caribbean visitor arrivals as we move into the summer months.”

“The roadshows give us the opportunity to bring the excitement and festiveness of Antigua’s carnival and the warmth and friendliness of our people direct to the consumer, and issue a personal invitation to the persons we meet to visit Antigua and Barbuda.”

The roadshows which started last weekend in Trinidad included five days of consumer promotions at Trinidad’s major shopping centres, Trincity and Gulf City mall and sales presentations to the largest tour operators in Trinidad, such as Haygem Co. Ltd, Lazzari & Sampson Ltd, and Amrals Travel, as well as smaller travel agencies.  Down the line interviews were also conducted on radio 94.1 BoomChampions in Trinidad, radio Power 102, Wac Radio and Gem Radio.

Spencer said, “The Trinidad roadshow was a resounding success for those twenty-three small ‘intimate’ hotels of Antigua & Barbuda, with property representatives interacting with hundreds of mall patrons to directly sell and promote their hotels, as well as, collect information for their databases. It was a great experience for many of the properties including some from Barbuda, who received an opportunity to promote their hotels outside of Antigua and Barbuda.”

Shoppers were entertained by carnival masqueraders, and steelpan music and were able to receive information on hotel pricing and enter raffles to win holidays to Antigua.  The summer specials can be viewed on www.visitantiguabarbuda.com

The Trinidad Roadshow delegation included, Compliance & Accommodations Officer in the Ministry of Tourism Dulcie Looby-Greene, Product Development Officer for Barbuda in the Ministry of Tourism Veneta Burton and Director of Culture in the Ministry of Trade Sports Culture and National Festivals Vaughn Walter.

The Trinidad promotions will continue with the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority offering the grand prize for the ‘Smother Your Mother’ promotion with radio 94.1, which is a prize of a weekend trip for two inclusive of flights, airport transfers and hotel accommodations. The draw for this promotion will take place for Mother’s Day.

The next Carnival roadshow is expected to take place in Dominica.

The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority has already held prior sales visits in the islands of Guadeloupe and Puerto Rico.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Destination News

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Mary Lightbourne appointed as Turks and Caicos’ Deputy Director of Tourism

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands (April 22, 2016) – The Turks and Caicos Tourist Board is pleased to congratulate Mary Lightbourne on her successful appointment as the new Deputy Director of Tourism.

Lightbourne is no stranger to the Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board as she brings with her 23 years of a diverse track record of work experience, of which 15 were spent at the Tourist Board taking on progressively responsible roles. She was previously employed as the Registrar of the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College and most recently employed with the Turks and Caicos Islands Government in a senior-level position as the Head of Secretariat to the Minister of Education.

Lightbourne holds a Master’s of Science degree in Organizational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University, a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Management and Development from American Intercontinental University, and a diploma in Tourism and Travel Agency Management from Cambridge Tutorial College, UK.  Lightbourne is not only academically motivated but also civic minded, evident through her involvement with the Rotary Club of Grand Turk where she has held the position of President.

Director of the Turks and Caicos Tourist Board, Ralph Higgs said the tourism team welcomes Lightbourne’s capabilities and experiences, “Her appointment is consistent with our commitment to ensure the continual growth of our tourism industry and to guarantee the Tourist Board’s longevity.”

Lightbourne commented that she is grateful for the opportunity to rejoin the Turks and Caicos Islands Tourist Board as Deputy Director, “I am excited to showcase my leadership skills and augment my participation in marketing the number one tourism destination.  I look forward to working with the entire tourism team to make my contribution to the growth of the vibrant tourism industry in the Turks and Caicos Islands.”

As Deputy Director, Lightbourne will be based in Grand Turk and will oversee the administration of the Grand Turk Office. Her portfolio also includes tourism statistics management, quality assurance, strengthening the cruise industry, and assisting with the development and implementation of the tourism marketing strategy, with special emphasis on Grand Turk and the surrounding Islands.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Destination News

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PRTC presents local businesses sustainable tourism and agrotourism certifications

March 30, 2016: As part of efforts to promote the development of sustainable tourism on the Island, Deputy Director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), Luis D. Muñiz Martínez, presented the Green Hotel Certificate of Sustainable Tourism to La Jamaca Guest House in La Parguera and the Agrotourism Certification to La Hacienda Muñoz.

“We congratulate these companies for their efforts in sustainable development on the Island. In order to achieve these certifications one must demonstrate genuine commitment to the environment and the community around them,” said Muñiz Martínez. “We want to spread the message of sustainable development in the tourism industry among companies that serve our visitors. Tourists appreciate when a company cares about its environment, which generally results in benefits for all parties and conservation of the environment.”

Sustainable tourism, as defined by the World Tourism Organization, satisfies the needs of tourists and regions while protecting and enhancing opportunities in the future. These efforts lead to the management of all resources to ensure economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes and biological diversity.

La Jamaca Guest House is located in the rural area of La Parguera in Lajas. It has 12 rooms and a natural environment that allows direct interaction with nature. La Hacienda Muñoz offers agrotourism tours, focusing on the history and production of coffee. The tour illustrates the coffee process from the beginning as a seed to a finished cup of coffee. The hacienda is located in the municipality of San Lorenzo and has 10 acres of land.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Destination News

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Antigua and Barbuda regains destination of choice status among US travelers

New York, NY (March 28, 2016) – The twin islands of Antigua and Barbuda are celebrating the successful growth of their US Tourism market that has shown remarkable double-digit growth in the previous three months with incredibly strong forward bookings. The U.S. remains Antigua and Barbuda’s lead market with total arrivals for 2015 YTD at 94,617. These positive results are due to the combination of an aggressive North American Sales & Marketing Road Show in the latter half of 2015, a strategic marketing and advertising campaign, a 14% increase in airlift with the launch of JetBlue New York to Antigua non-stop service, and having some of the lowest fares available to the Caribbean. The resulting increase in awareness and visibility of Antigua and Barbuda, with new flight options, properties for every price point and desire, over 127 activities to choose from and 365 beaches, has resulted in Americans falling for the twin islands.

Regularly awarded as being one of the most romantic destinations and renowned for it 365 beaches, Antigua and Barbuda has been experiencing increased visibility across its major markets. Double-digit growth across key markets in the Northeast, Southeast and West Coast, indicates that the destination is on the path to even more positive growth.  December 2015 figures show on the Eastern Seaboard, New York and New Jersey had a combined increase of 55.98%, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island had a combined increase of 93.41% and Maryland, Virginia and DC had a combined increase of 32.04%. In the South, Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma and Tennessee show strong growth with a combined 62.24% increase. The Midwest showed incredibly strong growth in Michigan and Kansas with a combined 80.66% increase. The West, traditionally not a strong market for the Caribbean saw exponential growth in Washington, Arizona, and Oregon with a combined increase of 89.97%. Utah alone had a 66.67% increase. January figures continues this upward trend showing positive signs as an overall increase in visitors was up 11.61% with 9,322 visitors. Initial figures suggest this growth will be similar in February and should continue this upward trend throughout the remainder of 2016.

Uniquely positioned by having the newest and most-modern airport in the Caribbean, acting as the ideal gateway to the Twin Islands, Antigua and Barbuda are attracting visitors who are seeking something new and different. Antigua and Barbuda manages to maintain its authentic Caribbean feel and the privacy and intimacy that visitors seek from a small island destination, while still offering a full portfolio of properties meeting every price point and desire from ultra-luxurious to renowned chains to charming bed and breakfasts. In essence, Antigua and Barbuda offers something for everyone.

With over 365 beaches to choose from, visitors will find that none are overrun, and all offer pristine white or pink sand beaches, with stunning azure waters. Antigua and Barbuda also offers a wide range of activities whether on land or on water, a wide array of dining options from 5-star dining to local cuisine, with a rich culture and history.

In addition to growing visitor numbers, 2016 is set to be a year of milestones for Antigua and Barbuda. The Antigua Carnival, the Caribbean’s greatest summer festival, will be marking its 60th Celebration July 22- August 2. The Carnival will celebrate these 60 years with a colorful insight into the culture of the country. Traditionally 10 days long, this year will have an additional 2 days, of celebratory music and dance where attendees are promised to encounter colorful costumes, Carnival Queen pageants, food fairs, parades, live shows and the best Soca and Calypso music from live bands and performers. Special events are planned to make this celebratory year even better, brighter and exciting for visitors. The destination will also be celebrating 10 years of June as the month of romance and will be launching exciting activities and packages for couples.  Later in the year, Antigua and Barbuda will be celebrating it’s 35th year of independence with 3 days of celebrations planned around November 1st.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Destination News

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