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Island Fish Fry awarded TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands (June 23, 2015) – The Turks and Caicos Tourist Board today announced that the Island Fish Fry, the destination’s most popular cultural experience, has received the TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence award.

The TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence recognises restaurants, attractions and accommodations that continually earn great reviews for delivering a superior customer experience thus making the ‘perfect trip’ possible.

Visitors have consistently rated the Island Fish Fry as excellent on TripAdvisor, citing the exceptional service, great local atmosphere and fantastic gastronomic offerings as just some of the highlights. To qualify for the TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence award, a business or attraction must maintain an overall TripAdvisor rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months.

“We are delighted that the Island Fish Fry have been awarded a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence. The award speaks not only to the exceptional atmosphere patrons have come to expect from the weekly Thursday night event, but also reinforces the quality of our cultural product and the significant role that the Island Fish Fry plays in the broader tourism economy in the Turks and Caicos,” said Ralph L. Higgs, Director of Tourism for Turks and Caicos.

Higgs continued, “We are honored to be acknowledged by our visitors who took the time to complete a review on TripAdvisor; this is surely a sign of confidence. We are as committed as ever to continually produce the best possible local experience for our visitors, as well as our residents.”

Turks and Caicos Minister of Tourism, Honourable Porsha Stubbs-Smith also touted the tremendous popularity of the Island Fish Fry and stated that she believes the Grand Turk Fish Fry, which the Tourist Board recently launched, will soon be recognized in the same fashion.

TripAdvisor is a travel website company that provides people with a platform to rate and review destinations they have visited. TripAdvisor has 340 million unique monthly visitors and reviews of more than 4.9 million attractions and restaurants.

Posted in: 2015 News, Blog, Destination News

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Bahamas continues winning trend for 2015 with latest award

Nassau, Bahamas (June 24, 2015): This year continues to be a landmark year for the Islands of The Bahamas, with this latest recognition for leading the way in delivering a quality product and service by the ESQR (The European Society for Quality Research), which awarded The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism with Gold at its Quality Achievement Awards last week in London. This latest award was of particular note as The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism was one of only five organisations to receive an award in the Gold category. The top award for Quality Management came in recognition of the relentless hard work and the achievements that The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism has made in customer service, hard work and commitment to quality.

Each year the ESQR recognises organisations, public administrations and companies from Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa and Australia, which have demonstrated outstanding commitment, support and effort to endorse and improve quality management. The organisation looks at industries across all seven continents that impact their regions in such a positive manner that they improve the quality of life for residents, to ultimately make each region a better place to live. Therefore, this latest award is truly special for the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, proving that its relentless work has made a difference in improving the Islands—for both visitors and residents.

Tourism Director General, Joy Jibrilu, was on hand to accept the latest award. “What winning these awards says to us, not just as the Ministry of Tourism, not just as an organisation, but also the people of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas on the whole, is that we are doing something right and we are on the right track. The world is watching, they are recognising us, and they’re letting us know that we are getting it right,” Jibrilu said.

While being the most recent award, the ESQR Gold Award joins the many nominations and awards The Bahamas has received thus far in 2015. The Bahamas has already won the Trip Advisor 2015 ‘Best Beaches’ award.  Junkanoo was also voted ‘#1 Festival in the Caribbean’ in USA Today’s 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards in 2014. The Bahamas was voted in the top 10 places in the Caribbean to visit by U.S. News and World Report in 2015. Additionally, The Bahamas has been nominated in nine different categories for the 22nd World Travel Awards, for which voting will close in August of this year. Established in 1993, the World Travel Awards acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the tourism industry. Today, the World Travel Awards brand is recognised globally as the ultimate hallmark of quality.

Not only is 2015 shaping up to be a landmark year in industry recognition, but at a projected tourism growth rate of 6.7% according to the WTTC, The Bahamas expects to host more visitors than ever in 2015. To meet this increased demand, there is expected to be an increase in room availability, as well as more attractive events for visitors to look forward to, such as the Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival that attracted thousands when it debuted in May, and a variety of sporting events from the Bahamas Marathon to the Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl. There are endless activities for travellers to choose from when visiting the Islands of The Bahamas.

Posted in: 2015 News, Blog, Destination News

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Barbados ranks third in 2015 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice awards for Islands

BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS. June 17, 2015 – – Barbados has been recognized as a winner in the 2015 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice™ awards for Islands, ranking third in the top 10 of all competing island destinations.

For the third straight year TripAdvisor has highlighted the world’s top islands based on the millions of reviews and opinions collected in a single year from travelers around the globe.

William Griffith, CEO of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) acknowledged the award stating, “Barbados’ steady climb in popularity from eighth position two years ago is a clear indication of the level of engagement of all of the island’s tourism accommodations, restaurants, tour operators and ancillary services. They are the ones that must be congratulated for the superior service being exhibited in all establishments”.

He added that his team has been working hard to broaden the image of the island across the globe so that the island is renowned as much for its culture, events and culinary offerings as it is for its beaches, landscape and weather.”

TripAdvisor’s chief marketing officer, Barbara Messing, congratulated Barbados stating that the results reflected independent views of over 340 million unique monthly visitors.

“Our well-traveled community has uncovered the best islands around the world for that perfect island escape whether you want to lie on the beach or seek adventure,” said Messing. “To help travelers book their trips to these remarkable destinations, TripAdvisor has surfaced amazing island hotels to accommodate a range of travel budgets.”

To see TripAdvisor traveler reviews and opinions of Barbados go to http://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g147262-Barbados-Vacations.html.  For all of the 2015 Travelers’ Choice award-winning islands, go to www.tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice-Islands.  Travelers can also follow the conversation on Twitter at #travelerschoice.

Posted in: 2015 News, Blog, Destination News

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Saint Lucia records over 6% growth for the first 5 months

SAINT LUCIA (June 22, 2015) – Saint Lucia joins the rest of the Caribbean in celebrating phenomenal increases in visitor arrivals in 2015.  The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) announced that visitor arrivals to the region was up 6% at the end of the first quarter, whilst Saint Lucia alone, recorded a 6.4% growth over the same period last year.

This growth has continued past the first quarter for Saint Lucia however, with a 1.4% and 7.2% increase recorded in April and May respectively.  At the end of the first five months of the year, total stay-over arrivals to the island was 159,077; up 5.5% from the same period in 2014.

Furthermore, the figures recorded in the first four consecutive months, were the highest figures for these months ever recorded in the island’s history.  The 29,658 arrivals recorded in May this year, was however the highest figure for that month in the last five years.

The North American Market has been extremely buoyant this year, with Canada recording a 10% increase in arrivals year-to-date (YTD) and the US 9%, stemming largely from the increase in airlift and strategic marketing approach within the respective markets.  The greatest percentage increase however, was noted from the Caribbean, which stood at 22,142 arrivals at the end of May – a 21% increase from the same period last year.  Improvement in the data collection method, particularly in capturing arrivals from Martinique by boat, has been attributed to this increase.

Tourism Minister Lorne Theophilus told a news conference on Tuesday, June 16, 2015, “that as impressive as the growth performance figures were, there will be no letup in Saint Lucia’s push toward reenergizing and invigorating the international marketplace via well-orchestrated strategies in key source markets.”

Europe however, has not fared as well as other source markets, with marked declines in arrivals from the UK and Germany along with other European countries, being recorded several months this year.

Targeted promotions and marketing campaigns planned for later this year, should result in increased arrivals from these markets before the year of 2015.

In other performance areas, cruise tourism is also on the rise, with a 9% increase in arrivals being recorded between January and April, following a 4% increase in cruise calls.  In yachting, a 1.5% decrease in arrivals was noted, despite there being a 14% decrease in calls.

Posted in: 2015 News, Blog, Destination News

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Martinique hosts FCCA delegation in push to continue strong cruise sector growth

NEW YORK, NY– June 15, 2015 – The Martinique Tourism Authority hosted a delegation of Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) officials May 28–29, 2015 as part of its continuing efforts to bolster the cruise sector on the island. The visit comes as Martinique enjoys its strongest cruise results in years, posting a 631-percent increase in cruise passenger arrivals since 2010.

“Cruising has certainly been on the rise in Martinique in recent years, but we’re not resting on our laurels,” said Muriel Wiltord, Director Americas for the Martinique Promotion Bureau. “This FCCA visit continues our commitment to work closely with our cruise industry partners to always find new ways to improve our cruise travel product and better meet the needs of today’s savvy traveler.”

Leon Sutcliff, Commercial Director and Head of the Stopovers Program for Carnival Cruises commented:

“For the past few years, Martinique has improved its relationship with the cruise industry, by opening up communication, and being receptive to input from the FCCA (Florida Caribbean Cruise Association) and the individual cruise lines including Carnival Cruise Line.  Martinique is making strides to improve the guest experience by listening and acting on advice from the industry. Everyone in Martinique has worked hard, and if they continue with this effort, I am sure that our guests and those that are connected with this segment of tourism will be pleased with future results. But it’s important that everyone remains focused on the work ahead.”

The FCCA is compiling research toward producing a new study on cruise passenger behavior and spending in Martinique. FCCA President Michele Paige provided a preview of the findings thus far, noting that average per-person spending amounted to US$70 (approximately 65€) per port call, a considerable figure considering ships arrive in Martinique with up to 4,000 passengers.

“While the cruising industry in the Caribbean is facing increasing competition, Martinique is registering the fastest and most important increase in the world as a cruise destination,” said Paige.

Prospects for sustaining the impressive recent growth in the Martinique cruise sector are very encouraging for 2015-2016 as well. Already the Martinique Tourism Authority is projecting 326,388 cruise passenger arrivals, an increase of 31-percent over the 2014-2015 cruise season.

“The December 2015 completion of the Pointe Simon cruise terminal and other capital improvements designed to further beautify the downtown Fort-de-France area and ease congestion along the waterfront will raise the bar on our cruise travel product even more,” Wiltord continued. “A new 94-room hotel and new retail shops are also planned for the Pointe Simon port area, enhancing the visitor experience for those staying in port just a few hours, as well as those taking advantage of pre- and post-cruise extended stay options created by expanded homeporting options in Fort-de-France.”

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Dominica….home of the Nature Island Food and Drink Festival

Roseau, Dominica – (June 3rd, 2015) Dominica presents the Nature Island Food and Drink Festival, 4 days of culinary excellence and passion.  Organized by Vetivert Inc., the festival to be held from July 1st – 4th 2015 incorporates Island Chef Cook-Off Competitions, Mixologist Competitions, Culinary Arts and Ital Food Symposiums and expos and a Farm to Table experience for kids.

The festival which has been in operation since 2012 is ideally placed within the summer months taking advantage of the summer tourism rush and prefacing other local festivals such as Dive Fest, held in July.  In 2015, the festival will see the introduction of experiences for children, incorporation of health conscious foods, utilizing trends towards whole and raw foods, and fusion cuisine.

Producer of the Festival, Carla Armour, explains that, “The festival seeks to excite persons about using local produce in new and interesting ways in fusion with international concepts and products, to raise the standard of food and drink offerings”.  In doing so she explained that the culinary arts will be recognized as an internationally marketable heritage and tourism niche.

This year, the Nature Island Food and Drink Festival features Toronto based Chef Carlos Laville and New York based Chef Stefan Shillingford. Health and wellness activities will also form part of the Festival, which culminates on Saturday July 4th, with the Island Chef finals and cook-off competition and Mixologist face-off finals.

For more information on the Nature Island Food and Drink Festival visit the facebook page – Nature Island Food and Drink Festival.

For more information on Dominica, contact Discover Dominica Authority at 767 448 2045. Or, visit Dominica’s official website: www.DiscoverDominica.com, follow Dominica on Twitter and Facebook and take a look at our videos on YouTube.

Posted in: 2015 News, Blog, Destination News

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Barbados tourism sector records double digit growth

BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS. May 27, 2015 – Barbados’ tourism sector broke a 25-year record during the first quarter of 2015 to reach 171,471 long stay arrivals.

BTMI Chairman, Alvin Jemmott, noted that there were record arrivals in each of the first three months of 2015 and extended his congratulations to all industry workers and partners for their steadfast efforts on behalf of the destination.

“This was a very strong winter season. The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has predicted a five per cent increase in long stay arrivals for the region for the entire year and we believe our performance in this first quarter bodes well for us to comfortably exceed that target.”

Jemmott attributed this milestone performance to a number of factors including increased airlift capacity negotiated by the BTMI; healthy economic conditions in key markets, a commitment to developing new source markets, Barbados’ strong reputation among its global partners and the agency’s solid promotional strategies for reaching the travel trade, media and consumers in each market.

CEO, William Griffith, revealed that a comprehensive review effort has begun to ensure that the BTMI’s policies support their new mandate as a private entity.

“I am pleased to say that we have begun the process of updating a number of critical polices in the areas of human resources, marketing and finance in keeping with our commitment to increasing employee engagement and productivity; maximizing our return on marketing investment, and achieving greater levels of fiscal prudence.”

In line with these changes, a comprehensive marketing plan featuring traditional and digital marketing programmes has also been developed to guide the organization in resource allocation and monitoring of its various marketing programmes.

Griffith broke down the performance by market, which showed that arrivals from the UK, USA, Canada, and Caribbean and Latin American grew by 12.9 per cent, 27.7 per cent, 28.4 per cent and 10.6 per cent, respectively. Germany also grew by 23.6 per cent.   These strong performances, including a 17.7 per cent rise in arrivals from ‘Other CARICOM’, overshadowed the 2.4 per cent decline in the Trinidad and Tobago market and the dip in arrivals from ‘Other Europe’ by 27.3 percent.

While the cruise sector declined by 6.1 per cent to 217,139 passengers, there was a welcomed increase in home porting, which sees ships purchases goods and services from local dairy, retail and other suppliers.  There is also a trend being observed with smaller ships being replaced by larger vessels, some with the capacity to carry of over 4,000 passengers.

Griffith added that the island’s total airlift capacity for the May 1 – October 31, 2015 summer period was set to rise by 3.6 per cent, largely driven by additional flights and the use of larger aircraft by the island’s airline partners.

The BTMI CEO went on to project a successful summer period for the island, banking on the fact that “there is increasing alignment between our internal operations and structure, and our global strategic marketing efforts.”

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