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Remarks by Joy Jibrilu, Chairman, CTO Board of Directors, at the SOTIC 2017

This has been one of the most important weeks in our recent history, with this conference coming in the wake of two of the most vicious hurricanes ever to hit the region, both in terms of intensity and the unforgiving nature of the devastation.

We were challenged this week to explore ways to help lift the people of the affected countries from the hardships imposed on them by the storms.

At the same time, while being sensitive to the impacted members of the CTO family, we were also challenged to consider ways to tell the world that most of the Caribbean remains open for business.

We recognised that there is a need by consumers, the media  and even travel industry professionals, of a greater understanding of the geography of the region.

Hence, there was general agreement that the Caribbean – both public and private sectors – must find the funds to get the message out.

Many of our friends in the local and international media have been doing a fine job is helping us tell the story, for which I’d like to thank them. However, when the crisis is over, when the story ends, when the issues change, the media will move on.

There will still be a need to keep reminding the world that the distance between Barbados and Belize is more than six times as great as Toronto to Montreal; that New York to Chicago is only half as far as the Bahamas to Grenada; Guyana to Cuba is twice as far as London to Rome and that Dominica and the Dominican Republic are more than three times further away from each other than New York to Washington DC.

Amid the adversity, came a renewed spirit of partnership; as cruise lines, the media, the hotel sector and governments, all came together with a single goal in mind – to help the affected recover.

We saw yesterday during the Recover and Rebuild session the spirit of cooperation, as the various partners contributed ideas on how to emerge from the hard times – bigger, stronger and more sustainable.

It was also an opportunity for the affected countries to share their stories and garner support.

This session will help to inform into the UNWTO, Government of Jamaica, World Bank Group and Inter-American Development Bank Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth, scheduled for November 27 to 29 in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Here in Grenada, Minister Ed Bartlett of Jamaica chaired a high-level meeting with the aim of developing a strategic framework for the establishment of a Global Caribbean Tourism Recovery Team (GCTRT) to coordinate the tourism product restoration efforts.

Also present at the meeting were representatives of the UNWTO, the World Travel and Tourism Council, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Jamaica Tourism Development Company.

It was agreed that a Global Caribbean Tourism Recovery Team (GCTRT) would be established under the chairmanship of Minister Bartlett, and would include representatives of the CHTA, CTO, the WTTC and the UNWTO.

A secretariat will be established, with responsibility for coordinating the technical support, capacity building, communication strategy, multilateral and bilateral agency engagement, as well as the management of public/private partnership arrangements regarding the restoration of the tourism product across the Caribbean.

The secretariat will have its first meeting later in October, when the formal strategic framework and governance structure will be developed.

Now, a brief word on the region’s performance so far this year.

The Caribbean had been performing at a healthy growth rate of 5.2 per cent between January and June, when compared to the same period last year.

This reflected economic stability in the market, expansion and inauguration of flights by major carriers, and new marketing and product development initiatives.

During the first six months, the region recorded 16.6 million international tourist arrivals, some 800 thousand more than in the first six months of 2016.

Growth was recorded in all major source markets except South America, which contracted by 14.3 per cent.

Up to June, the European market had grown by 7.9 per cent, Canada by 6.4 per cent and, despite the weak sterling, the UK by 4.8 per cent.

In the hotel industry, the half-year outcomes reported by STR Global showed that average occupancy increased marginally by 0.2 percentage points to 70.8 per cent, while the average daily room rate rose slightly by 0.2 per cent, moving from US$220.84 in 2016 to US$221.38 in 2017.

Like tourist arrivals, growth in the cruise sector also remained positive and stronger than the expected performance in the first half of the year. At the end of the first six months of 2017, it is estimated that cruise passenger arrivals to the Caribbean region had reached 15.3 million, 4.0 per cent more than in the corresponding period of 2016. This performance represented the largest number of cruise passengers in the region at this time of year.

However, with the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the growth rate will slow down in the remaining quarters of the year.

Hence, the expected growth rate of tourist arrivals will range between 1.0 per cent and 2.0 per cent in 2017, with the 2018 performance expected to be similar.

Let me take the opportunity on behalf of the chairman, Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar and the CTO, to thank you for your support, Minister Clarice Modeste-Curwen and team at the ministry of tourism; CEO Patricia Maher and the Grenada Tourism Authority team; and our own staff at the CTO for working so hard to execute a more successful SOTIC than many of us could ever have predicted.

Thank you for your participation.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, SOTIC

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Statement by CTO Secretary General, Hugh Riley, at the Opening Ceremony of SOTIC 2017

On behalf of the Chairman of the CTO’s Council of Ministers, whom I will introduce shortly, and on behalf of Mrs. Joy Jibrilu, the Chair of the CTO’s Board of Directors, I welcome you.

When the next chapter in the history of Caribbean tourism is written, the year 2017 will have a special mention.

Specifically, September will be remembered as the month when Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria, and a major earthquake, unleashed fury on parts of our beautiful Caribbean and other sections of The Americas.

Within a matter of weeks Mother Nature wrought her destructive power on Anguilla, Barbuda, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Florida, Mexico, Puerto Rico, St. Barts, Sint Maarten, St. Martin, Texas, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the U.S Virgin Islands, leaving in her wake death – and damage to property and economies in the tens of billions of dollars.

For us at the CTO, the 2017 State of the Tourism Industry Conference will be remembered as an event that created tremendous ambivalence.

Should we or should we not have a conference at this time?

How should we position it?

Have the reasons we created the SOTIC in the first place all gone away?

How do we balance the competing realities that for some, normality has come to a screeching halt – against the inevitability that life must go on?

And how should we counsel our members? Those that have suffered losses and are now struggling under the weight of the recovery process, are perhaps not able to take time away to attend a conference!

And what about those who were not impacted?

How would they feel if the CTO made a decision to set aside this important gathering, and leave it to the individual countries – each doing their own separate thing to keep their doors open and fuel the engine that keeps their economy running?

Those who are here, have answered those questions for us. In our opinion, and the opinion of our Chairman, whose country itself was impacted, you have made an important decision, and we thank you for being here.

The public sector and the private sector, the journalists, the students and the academics, the country representatives who can barely afford to take time away from the business of reconstructing their lives, we are honored by your presence here.

We have come to a place to share views on best practices, to exchange ideas on the way forward, to say thank you to neighbors and friends, to commiserate with each other, to celebrate being alive, and to take decisive actions that will help us to build economies that are sound and sustainable.

Because we get to write our own chapter in Caribbean tourism history, all of us gathered here over the next three days, actually have the wherewithal to determine the outcome of this conference in some individual way.

This must be the one where we learn from the events of the recent past, using those lessons to build a better, stronger future. The one where we accept that anyone of us can be knocked down hard at any time, but we must learn how to fight through the pain and rise again.

Just ask Grenada. Ask Dr. Keith Mitchell, who was also the Prime Minister when Hurricane Ivan ravaged this island in 2004. Ask Dr. Clarice Modeste, at the time the Minister of Works, what this island looked like with 90% of the buildings damaged.

This could be the SOTIC where we form such a strong One Caribbean Alliance and create such a meaningful resource that we never again find ourselves scrambling for funding just to be able to teach the world the geography of the Caribbean.

This could be the one where we convince our own people of the importance of tourism, not only as a debt reduction, employment generating, foreign exchange earning tool, – which it is – but also as a means to form lasting partnerships and strengthen the bonds among us.

Let us commit to doing whatever we possibly can to get our impacted brothers and sisters up and running again. Let us thank those who have opened their doors and their wallets, their schools and facilities, their hotels and their ships, to provide for and to accommodate their neighbors.

Let us reaffirm our commitment to use the power of the Caribbean brand to convince discerning visitors that the way to enhance their own lives, is to take full advantage of the uniquely enjoyable vacation experiences this region has to offer, knowing full well that the best way to help the Caribbean is to visit the Caribbean.

Let us never lose confidence in the enduring strength of the Caribbean brand.

 

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, SOTIC

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C&W BUSINESS JOINS FORCES WITH THE REGION’S PREMIER TOURISM CONFERENCE

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (9 October, 2017) – C&W Business, part of the Cable & Wireless Communications Group (C&W), a Liberty Global Company, joins forces the region’s premier tourism gathering, the State of the Tourism Industry Conference (#SOTIC2017).

C&W Business has come on as gold sponsor of the event organised by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO)  in #PureGrenada from 10-13 October. The CTO’s secretary general Hugh Riley said with technology influencing travel now more than ever before, it was fitting that the telecommunications company would throw its support behind the conference at this time.

“Technology has become an integral part of travel and plays an important role in decision-making as people make travel plans. Whether it’s virtual reality or social media, or simply facilitating communication between the traveller and family and friends back home, there is little that influences travel today as much as technology does,” Mr. Riley said.

“The CTO is proud to welcome C&W Business as a gold sponsor for our State of the Tourism Industry Conference in Grenada. This year’s conference is one of our most important yet as many of our members and faithful partners are recovering from two of the most destructive hurricanes ever to affect our region. There has hardly ever been a time when examining the state of Caribbean tourism and plotting its future was more urgent than right now and it is fitting that C&W Business  should join us in this journey.”

In addition to hosting the luncheon of the CTO ministers, commissioners and directors of tourism, during the conference C&W Business will participate in the panel discussion focused on the steps to rebuild tourism, as well as showcase its comprehensive portfolio of solutions that enable hospitality organisations of any size to achieve their goal.

“Most of our markets depend on tourism to drive their economies,” Garry Sinclair, President of C&W Caribbean said, “as such we invest in world-leading business solutions technology that enables the hotel and tourism sector to provide products and services that are on par with international standards, meets customers’ changing life- style needs and enhances their visitor experience. This ultimately attracts more business to the region.”
SOTIC, which has as its theme Supercharging the Caribbean Brand: Meeting the Needs of the New Explorers, is the preeminent educational forum for Caribbean hospitality and tourism professionals. This year’s conference is being organised by the CTO in collaboration with the Grenada Tourism Authority and Grenada’s ministry of tourism, and will be held from 10-13 October at the Radisson Grenada Beach Resort. The conference will be preceded by business meetings on 9 and 10 October.

Key conference sessions include Infusing Dynamism in Caribbean Tourism, Who are the New Explorers, Business Models that Rock, Turning Our Waters Into Goldmines – Investing in the Blue Economy, and Spicing Up the Caribbean Brand. The highly anticipated tourism youth congress and a Stakeholders Speak Out session are also part of the programme.

For further details on the conference, including how to register, please visithttp://sotic.onecaribbean.org/.

Other SOTIC LIAT, JetBlue, Radisson Grenada Beach Resort, Caribbean  Hotel & Tourism Association, Silver Sands Grenada, Grenada Airports Authority, Grenada Hotel & Tourism Association, Kimpton Kawana Bay, St. George’s University, Caribbean Airlines, British Airways, Netherlands Insurance, Spice Island Beach Resort, Grenlec, National Lottery Authority, Port Louis Grenada, FLOW, Mt. Cinnamon, Le Phare Bleu, Sandals La Source, Coyaba, Bryden & Minors, Real Value, Waggy T Rentals, Belmont Estate, Prickly Bay Marina, Clarkes Court, the Marketing & National Importing Board, Grenada Marine, the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation, River Antoine, Huggins, Independence Agencies, Grenada Breweries and Glenelg.

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IBM To Present At Region’s Premier Tourism Industry Gathering

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (2 October, 2017) The American multinational technology company IBM will present at the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO)’s State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) which opens in Grenada next week.

IBM’s global industry leader responsible for hospitality and travel related services, Greg Land, will be part of a panel which explores ways in which the Caribbean can use technology creatively to enhance the visitor experience and successfully sell destinations.

As part of his presentation Mr. Land will focus on Watson, IBM’s artificial intelligence (AI) platform, and how Caribbean destinations and businesses can utilise AI in decision making and to engage visitors.

The session, entitled, Active Engagement: Riding the Technological Wave, will also include presentations by Amrita Gurney, the head of marketing at CrowdRiff, a Canadian visual marketing platform used by tourism brands, and Oliver Gale, the founder of Bitt, a Barbados-based financial company that uses blockchain technology for online money transfers using any form of currency.

This session runs from 9:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. on Friday 13 October, the final day of the conference, which will have Super Bowl winner Dorsey Levin as the keynote speaker.

“I will focus on rapid rebound and will also touch on how to take control of life without excuses and how to navigate successfully through stressful situations and keep moving forward. I would like nothing more than to motivate and inspire delegates to get back on track after the damage caused by the hurricanes,” Levens said.

The conference has as its theme, Supercharging the Brand: Meeting the Needs of the New Explorers, and in the wake of the catastrophic impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on some member countries, the CTO is adding a special session to the SOTIC programme that will focus on how to recover and rebuild after a major disaster.

The four-hour session on Thursday 12 October is designed to explore and examine the issues and key recommendations to be considered as the Caribbean rebuilds after the monstrous category five storms, in particular, or other natural disasters it might face in the future.

It will focus on the economic cost of the disasters, including potential impact on gross domestic product, employment, the cost to rebuild and recovery time.

The State of the Tourism Industry Conference is being organised by the CTO in collaboration with the Grenada Tourism Authority and Grenada’s ministry of tourism, and will be held from 10-13 October at the Radisson Grenada Beach Resort. The conference will be preceded by business meetings on 9 and 10 October.

Other key conference sessions include Infusing Dynamism in Caribbean Tourism, Who are the New Explorers, Business Models that Rock, Turning Our Waters Into Goldmines – Investing in the Blue Economy, and Spicing Up the Caribbean Brand.

The highly anticipated tourism youth congress and a Stakeholders Speak Out session are also part of the programme.

For further details on the conference, including how to register, please visit http://sotic.onecaribbean.org/.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, SOTIC

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Super Bowl Winner Dorsey Levens to Keynote CTO State of the Tourism Industry Conference

(BRIDGETOWN, Barbados) 26 September, 2017  A man who overcame adversity – and the odds – to lead his team to the championship in American football, will share some of the secrets on what it takes to get up and succeed after being knocked down, when he addresses the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO)’s State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) in Grenada next month.

Super Bowl winner Dorsey Levin will keynote the 10-13 October event, described by secretary general Hugh Riley as likely to be the most important conference ever organised by the CTO.

“I will focus on rapid rebound and will also touch on how to take control of life without excuses and how to navigate successfully through stressful situations and keep moving forward. I would like nothing more than to motivate and inspire delegates to get back on track after the damage caused by the hurricanes,” Levens said.

Speaking on the conference theme, Supercharging the Brand: Meeting the Needs of the New Explorers, the Super Bowl champion will address subjects such as breaking through the pain, what it takes to win against all odds, the true value of teamwork, tackling fierce competition, what it takes to get up after being knocked down, and the will to be number one.

“Mr. Levens has demonstrated throughout his career how to rebound from adversity and win against all odds,” Mr. Riley said. “Our members will welcome him as our keynoter for his sheer determination and valuable insights into what it takes to emerge stronger from the challenges that we face on the way to becoming  winners.”

In both his collegiate and professional life as an athlete, Mr. Levens developed a reputation for defeating the odds. He set a school record as a running back after sitting out a year due to a knee injury, and despite being considered a marginal pick – he was chosen 149th overall in the 1994 National Football League draft – he would go on to lead his Green Bay Packers to its first championship in 29 years in 1996.

Levens’ current entertainment roles and accomplishments include writing and serving as executive producer for Bell Rung, an insightful documentary focused on bringing to light the long-term effects and life-altering health issues suffered by many former professional football player, and co-writing and serving as the executive producer of Stripped, a hit stage play.  Recently he has appeared in Tyler Perry’s hit stage play Madea On The Run, Tyler Perry’s sitcom For Better Or Worse, and British comedy Gridiron UK. Film credits also include We Are Marshall and Three Can Play That Game.

Mr. Levens has recently joined The Empowerhouse Group as senior sports consultant, presenting The BioCode System, described by the group as an innovative coaching programme that provides simple yet powerful tools to develop stronger, more confident leaders and empowers the way leaders work and live.

In the wake of the catastrophic impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on some member countries, the CTO is adding a special session to the SOTIC programme that will focus on how to recover and rebuild after a major disaster.

The three-hour session on Thursday 12 October is designed to explore and examine the issues and key recommendations to be considered as the Caribbean rebuilds after the monstrous category five storms, in particular, or other natural disasters it might face in the future.

It will focus on the economic cost of the disasters, including potential impact on gross domestic product, employment, the cost to rebuild and recovery time.

The State of the Tourism Industry Conference is being organised by the CTO in collaboration with the Grenada Tourism Authority and Grenada’s ministry of tourism, and will be held from 10-13 October at the Radisson Grenada Beach Resort. The conference will be preceded by business meetings on 9 and 10 October.

Key conference sessions include Infusing Dynamism in Caribbean Tourism, Who are the New Explorers, Business Models that Rock, Turning Our Waters Into Goldmines – Investing in the Blue Economy, Active Engagement: Riding the Technological Wave, and Spicing Up the Caribbean Brand.

The highly anticipated tourism youth congress and a Stakeholders Speak Out session are also part of the programme.

For further details on the conference, including how to register, please visit http://sotic.onecaribbean.org/.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, SOTIC

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Recovery and Rebuilding to be the Focus of Special Session at SOTIC 2017

~ Three-hour session on Thursday 12 October is designed to explore and examine the issues and key recommendations to be considered as the Caribbean rebuilds after Hurricanes Irma and Maria ~

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (25 September, 2017) – In the wake of the catastrophic impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on some member countries, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is adding a special session to the upcoming State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) in Grenada, that will focus on how to recover and rebuild after a major disaster.

The three-hour session on Thursday 12 October is designed to explore and examine the issues and key recommendations to be considered as the Caribbean rebuilds after the monstrous category five storms, in particular, or other natural disasters it might face in the future.

It will focus on the economic cost of the disasters, including potential impact on gross domestic product, employment, the cost to rebuild and recovery time.

Delegates will hear from leading experts in disaster preparedness and mitigation, recovery, airport development and maintenance, airlines, telecommunications and travel, as well as representatives of member countries that have experienced, and recovered from, major catastrophes.

“This is the time when not only do we have to focus on the state of the industry as we know it today, but because of the really strong hurricanes that have affected our region this year we have to focus a great deal of attention as well on how recover, rebuild, restock and redesign and how to do so with the resilience and structural integrity that we need to protect ourselves in the future,” the CTO’s secretary general Hugh Riley said.

Following the session a report will be produced to guide  governments and stakeholders  on how to move forward in this difficult time.

The State of the Tourism Industry Conference, which has as its theme, Supercharging the Caribbean Brand: Meeting the Needs of the New Explorers, is being organised by the CTO in collaboration with the Grenada Tourism Authority and Grenada’s ministry of tourism, and will be held from 10-13 October at the Radisson Grenada Beach Resort. The conference will be preceded by business meetings on 9 and 10 October.

Key conference sessions include Infusing Dynamism in Caribbean Tourism, Who are the New Explorers, Business Models that Rock, Turning Our Waters Into Goldmines – Investing in the Blue Economy, Active Engagement: Riding the Technological Wave, and Spicing Up the Caribbean Brand.

The highly anticipated tourism youth congress and a Stakeholders Speak Out session are also part of the programme.

For further details on the conference, including how to register, please visit http://sotic.onecaribbean.org/

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, SOTIC

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Recovery and Rebuild to be Focus of Special Session at State of the Tourism Industry Conference

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (25 September, 2017) – In the wake of the catastrophic impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on some member countries, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is adding a special session to the upcoming State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) in Grenada, that will focus on how to recover and rebuild after a major disaster.

The three-hour session on Thursday 12 October is designed to explore and examine the issues and key recommendations to be considered as the Caribbean rebuilds after the monstrous category five storms, in particular, or other natural disasters it might face in the future.

It will focus on the economic cost of the disasters, including potential impact on gross domestic product, employment, the cost to rebuild and recovery time.

Delegates will hear from leading experts in disaster preparedness and mitigation, recovery, airport development and maintenance, airlines, telecommunications and travel, as well as representatives of the hotel sector and member countries that have experienced, and recovered from, major catastrophes.

“This is the time when not only do we have to focus on the state of the industry as we know it today, but because of the really strong hurricanes that have affected our region this year we have to focus a great deal of attention as well on our economic recovery  as an entire region and how to  rebuild with the resilience and structural integrity to protect ourselves in the future,” the CTO’s secretary general Hugh Riley said.

Following the session a report will be produced to guide governments and stakeholders  on how to move forward in this difficult time.

The State of the Tourism Industry Conference, which has as its theme, Supercharging the Caribbean Brand: Meeting the Needs of the New Explorers, is being organised by the CTO in collaboration with the Grenada Tourism Authority and Grenada’s ministry of tourism, and will be held from 10-13 October at the Radisson Grenada Beach Resort. The conference will be preceded by business meetings on 9 and 10 October.

Key conference sessions include Infusing Dynamism in Caribbean Tourism, Who are the New Explorers, Business Models that Rock, Turning Our Waters Into Goldmines – Investing in the Blue Economy, Active Engagement: Riding the Technological Wave, and Spicing Up the Caribbean Brand.

The highly anticipated tourism youth congress and a Stakeholders Speak Out session are also part of the programme.

For further details on the conference, including how to register, please visit http://sotic.onecaribbean.org/.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, SOTIC

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