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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.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, SOTIC

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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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Canadians demanding more diversity says Air Canada Leisure Group President

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, 30 August, 2016 –  Canadian travellers are demanding more diversity and greater options and Caribbean destinations must offer a diverse product if they are to remain attractive to this important market, president of Air Canada Leisure Group Craig Landry said.

Mr. Landry, whose responsibilities include Air Canada Vacation and the leisure carrier Air Canada Rouge, will deliver the feature address on Friday 16 September at the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) taking place in Barbados from 14-16 September.

However, in an interview ahead of the event, the airline executive spoke of evolving consumer preferences, from accommodation to activities.

“From the perspective of the consumer it’s all about choice, so choice means we need diversity in the type of products we can offer,” Mr. Landry explained.

“What we’re seeing is that with different types of markets, whether it’s from family size or whether it’s adults and couples, their needs are different in terms of the types of amenities and the types of services that respond to them and so we need to make sure we have segmentation and the ability to be able to address that.

“We’re also seeing changes in people who are booking not necessarily non-inclusive –  so that can be villas or people who might want to do some of their own cooking or some of their own travel experiences and excursions when they’re there; they’re looking for a different type of living aboard type of approach when they stay in a destination and we need product to accommodate that and we need to make sure we have enough breadth and depth of our product and diversity in the type of things we can offer to satisfy different segments of travel,” he added.

A transcript of the full interview, as well as an audio recording, can be found at http://sotic.onecaribbean.org/speaker/craig-landry/.

The State of the Tourism Industry Conference, which has as its theme, Honouring Our Legacy, Defining Our Future, is the pre-eminent tourism gathering in the region. It brings together tourism decision-makers, including ministers, commissioners and directors of tourism, hotel and airline executives, travel agents, students, the media and persons directly and indirectly involved in tourism. It is preceded by CTO business meetings, including meetings of the board of directors and the Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism.

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 and for more information on SOTIC, including how you can register, participate and benefit, visit sotic.onecaribbean.org.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, SOTIC

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UNWTO head to make first ever appearance at CTO State of the Tourism Industry Conference

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, 3 August, 2016 –  The head of the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable tourism will make his first ever appearance at a Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) event when he presents at the State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) next month.

Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Taleb Rifai will be joined by the president of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) David Scowsill and CTO secretary general Hugh Riley on a panel to discuss how to pilot an industry through a perpetual state of flux.

“The commitment of the UNWTO and the WTTC to participate in this conference fulfils our mandate to make leaders of the global tourism industry accessible to our members, to share information with us and exchange ideas on how to resolve issues and challenges and how to take advantage of opportunities in tourism globally,” Mr. Riley said.

During the session entitled, No Place For The Status Quo, the tourism leaders will delve into factors, such as changing demographics and attitudes, which drive the tourism industry into a state of constant transition, and how to continuously align the product to consumers’ tastes.

“There really is no status quo in the tourism sector. Things are constantly changing; it’s a dynamic industry, it’s vulnerable to external shocks but it always recovers. When we look at issues that affect public health, security, terrorism, economic shocks, all of these things affect the success and the sustainability of the tourism sector,” the CTO secretary general added.

The session takes place from 9:45 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Friday 16 September, immediately following the feature address by Craig Landry, the president of Air Canada Leisure Group.

The State of the Tourism Industry Conference, which has as its theme, Honouring Our Legacy, Defining Our Future, is the pre-eminent tourism gathering in the region. It brings together tourism decision-makers, including ministers, commissioners and directors of tourism, hotel and airline executives, travel agents, students, the media and persons directly and indirectly involved in tourism. It is preceded by CTO business meetings, including meetings of the board of directors and the Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism.

A number of other presenters have been confirmed for SOTIC, which will explore subjects ranging from how to transition the product and multicultural and emerging markets to creating a luxury experience and the sharing economy.

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.

For more information on SOTIC, including how you can register, participate and benefit, visit www.onecaribbean.org.  For a sound bite from the CTO secretary general, please click on the following link: http://bit.ly/2ay99wO

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, SOTIC

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