CTO News

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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New opportunities from tourism for local traders in Montego Bay

An innovative initiative to improve income for traders in a Montego Bay craft market aims to increase local economic benefits from tourism.

Central to the initiative is a new training programme from the Travel Foundation endorsed by the Tourism Product Development Company Limited (TPDCo).  Traders in the Harbour Street Craft Market have been the first to receive business training to support them to increase their income from tourism.  The initiative is part of a wider programme from the Travel Foundation to improve the impacts of tourism in the area.

The training, designed by the Travel Foundation and delivered by TPDCo trainers includes guidance on what types of products tourists are looking for, how to approach tourists effectively and improve sales techniques, as well as tips for running a profitable business.   Around 100 traders have been trained, with more to follow this year.

Local tourism trainer for TPDCo, Natalie Ellis who attended the Travel Foundation ‘train the trainer’ course said. “I honestly believe that this is a great programme and will definitely impact positively the craft traders to maximise their profits because all the information we’re giving to them is actually practical information that they can build on and improve themselves. By improving themselves they will also improve earnings for their family members. For me it was amazing, a really great experience.  It has taught me so much more and I’ve been a trainer for 9 years.’

The Travel Foundation is now calling on tour operators and destination marketing companies to encourage customers to visit the market. ‘We’re continuing to work with the market traders, the parish council, TPDCo and others to ensure that the market offers a vibrant and enjoyable experience for tourists and to support local traders.  But we also need to ensure that tourists know about the craft market and what it has to offer, so are asking tour operators to include it in their excursions and to promote it.’  Said Julie Middleton, Head of Sustainable Practice at the Travel Foundation.

The Travel Foundation has also developed a walking map of Montego Bay and an insider guide to the area, highlighting local attractions, which are being distributed to tourists and can be viewed at www.thetravelfoundation.org.uk

In the future, the Travel Foundation aims to take the initiative to other resorts across Jamaica.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Travel Foundation

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CTO 2016 Christmas Message from Secretary General, Hugh Riley

Bridgetown, Barbados (22 Dec 2016) – This has been an impressive, yet challenging year for Caribbean tourism. We have seen a rise in tourist arrivals when compared to our record year in 2015, fueled by strong performances in Europe – mainly the United Kingdom and Germany – and from the United States, and we are poised to meet the 30 million arrivals target set two years ago at our State of the Tourism Industry Conference in the United States Virgin Islands.

We will present a more detailed picture at our annual Caribbean Tourism Industry Performance news conference on 9 February, 2017.

Yet, amidst the year’s impressive achievements, the Canadian market was a concern. Traditionally a robust achiever, even during the tough global economic meltdown, Canada delivered declining numbers this year, sparked by the weakening of the Canadian dollar. We are moving to reverse that slide, combining our efforts with those of our CTO member-countries and our industry partners. In the first quarter of 2017 we will hire a business development representative to substantially enhance the Caribbean’s engagement in Canada’s most productive areas, identify and develop business in non-traditional areas and work closely with our members’ representatives for maximum impact. New travel agent training and certification, increased use of targeted social media, enhanced deployment of the CTO’s data analysis tools, and more focused engagement with the Caribbean Diaspora are all components of the 2017 strategy for Canada.

Our hotel partners, too, faced their own challenges from major markets. While air arrival numbers were up, the  key performance metrics for the hotel industry recorded declines through the first half of 2016, based on data compiled by Smith Travel Research Inc. The slumps were influenced by a rise in room stock and a fall in demand for traditional hotel rooms, attributed in part to ‘the sharing economy’.

Mother Nature challenged us as well, with some of our member-countries affected in varying degrees by hurricanes. Yet, despite the adversities occasioned by these events, our resilience and fortitude as a region stood out and even the worst affected were back open for business in quick time, proving that tourism is an effective way to re-energise an economy following a natural or other disaster.

The onset of the Zika virus also presented a challenge and the CTO continues to work with our partners, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and the Caribbean Public Health Agency to address concerns raised by our suppliers and potential visitors.

We also continue to monitor the possible impact of the Brexit vote as the UK moves to end and its membership in the European Union. Developments in the United States too are occupying our focused attention, the US market being the primary supplier of visitors to the Caribbean.

Our declaration of 2016 as The Year of Romance in the Caribbean turned out to be a success story, with member-countries and industry partners organizing events or participating in roadshows specializing in romance. Ideas blossomed, reinforcing the Caribbean’s reputation for being the place most likely to celebrate, ignite or rekindle romance.

Our 30 Days of Caribbean Romance social media marathon reached 10.5 million people in June, while millions more were reached through the innovative Periscope Marathon  & Tweet Chat featuring romantic places of the Caribbean, and our Five Romantic Facts about each member-country during Caribbean Tourism Month in November.

The Year of Romance ended with the Ultimate Jamaican Dream Wedding organized in collaboration with one of our leading romance partners, MarryCaribbean.com.

As was expected, the success of The Year of Romance has created a heightened anticipation about our theme for the coming year!

We are  now delighted to announce that 2017 will be the Year of Adventure in the Caribbean.

Adventure links directly with the Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development declared by the United Nations and allows us to twin adventure with sustainability.

Adventure and Caribbean travel go perfectly together, whether  through energetic activity such as zip lining high above a valley or speeding around a racing circuit, or more serenely rafting down a river and hiking through a country’s interior. For some travellers, an adventure is simply exploring local communities to learn  their language and customs, and teasing the senses with new cultural and culinary experiences.

For the Year of Adventure we encourage our members and partners, both within and outside the Caribbean, to organise events and activities and share them with us. The spirit of adventure lives in all of us and in every member-country of the CTO.

On behalf of our Chairman The Hon. Obie Wilchcombe, the Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism, the Board of Directors, the diverse membership and Staff of the CTO, I wish you and yours a blessed Christmas, Happy Holidays and a safe, peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Corporate News

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CTO 2016 Year of Romance ends with Ultimate Jamaican Dream Wedding

In collaboration with the Caribbean Tourism Organization Year of Romance & www.MarryCaribbean.com, Jamaica will close out 2016 with the Ultimate Jamaican Dream Wedding taking place at the fabulous Moon Palace Jamaica Grande, December 10th.

“This has been a truly collaborative effort and one that again reminds the world that the Caribbean is always the Oasis of the Western Hemisphere with product and service that fosters romance, weddings/honeymoons and of course relaxation from a hectic work life.  While the Ultimate Jamaican Dream Wedding was geared to the North American market, responses came in from all over the world – from China to Canada, says Jacqueline Johnson, CTC and CEO of www.MarryCaribbean.com & www.CaribbeanWeddingAssociation.com.

The Romance (wedding & honeymoon) market in the U.S. market has seen an uptick in spending with the average couple spending approximately $27,000.00 on their wedding.  Of course the Caribbean collectively enjoys the largest share of the romance market and prediction is that expenditure for destination wedding is poised to grow in 2017.

Jamaica’s commitment to this promotion under the stewardship of Mr. Paul Pennicook – Director of Tourism, puts Jamaica in the forefront of this ‘must buy’ market.  With bridal market expenditure in the North American Market of over $100Billion, the contest was designed not only to close out the Year of Romance but to capture the newly engaged and be a presence in the highest engagement season, a timing that is not lost in the marketing initiatives of the Jamaican Marketing Team.  In addition, the video and photos from the wedding will be used to promote all sponsors and the Jamaica Bridal Market throughout 2017.

Without partners this program would not have had the massive presence that this promotion generated.  Thanks to:

  • *Mon Cheri for providing the wedding gown
  • *1888mytuxes.com for outfitting the groom in the latest tuxedo
  • *Caribbean Tourism Organization for flight arrangements for the bride & groom on Caribbean Airlines
  • *Tropicana Jewelers for providing gift certificate of US$1,000.00 to the lucky couple
  • *Jewel Runway Bay Beach Resort for the first year anniversary trip
  • *Glamour Tours for transportation in Jamaica
  • *Brenda O’Neale, Travel Agent extraordinaire of With This Ring Destination Wedding & Honeymoon
  • *Reggae Superstar Christopher Martin will serenade the couple (live) with his hit song “Take My Love”
  • *Moon Palace Jamaica Grande: providing the beach wedding ceremony from the Palace Resorts exclusive Nautical Wedding Collection.

 

With over 2 million weddings in the U.S. Market “today’s consumers are empowered and travel savvy and know more about their travel options than ever before. At MarryCaribbean.com we pride ourselves on providing the tools to enable them to make informed choices with ready access to our advertisers and their products” she concluded.

About www.MarryCaribbean.com

MarryCaribbean.com the award winning website by the Shanghai Travelers Club/China offers the internet’s most complete listing of Caribbean destination wedding and honeymoon resources. Designed to encourage visitor interaction, the site offers new and innovative ways to make a Caribbean wedding an extraordinary experience, and satisfies the demands of the most discerning couples.

Jacqueline Johnson was Executive Travel Director of Brides Magazine, Modern Bride, Elegant Bride, Brides Destination Weddings & Honeymoons and Brides.com. She has also served as VP/Associate Publisher for Bridal Guide Magazine. For over two decades she served on the Board of Directors of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) with the Ministers and Directors of Tourism, and for the past 10 years she has been a member of the Executive Committee. She is also the recipient of CTO’s Medal of Excellence as one of the 50 Most Influential Persons in the Caribbean. Johnson is Chairman of the CTO Foundation, an organization that raises funds to further the education of outstanding Caribbean citizens who have demonstrated a career commitment to tourism; and she is a Certified Travel Counselor (CTC). She is a contributor to Travel Agent Magazine and is frequently invited to speak on the wedding and honeymoon travel market.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Corporate News

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Nominations Open for CTO Sustainable Tourism Awards 2017

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, 5 December, 2016 –  The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is rewarding destinations in the region that are demonstrating that sustainable tourism products and services are viable and exciting travel options for visitors to the region.

Individuals, groups, organizations and companies in any of the CTO’s member countries are invited to submit entries for a number of award categories including the Caribbean Excellence in Sustainable Tourism Award; Destination Stewardship Award; Sustainable Accommodation Award; Community Benefit Award; Heritage Protection Award; and the Biodiversity Conservation Award.

Qualifying entrants will have developed unique and attractive tourism products or are implementing initiatives that embrace sustainable tourism concepts and core values. Entry criteria are aimed at identifying and showcasing sustainable tourism best practices among CTO members that improve long-term competitiveness of tourism businesses and destinations while preserving the inherit quality and authenticity of the product or services.

“Sustainability is integral to whatever we do as a region in the approach to tourism development. It is important that we preserve the fragile ecosystems as well as natural and cultural resources which define the Caribbean experience, contribute to the competitiveness of the tourism product, and make the countries of the region safe and appealing as places to live, work and visit,” said Amanda Charles, the CTO’s sustainable tourism specialist.

“The Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Awards continues to be an important initiative of the CTO to support and promote the sustainability efforts of the region’s tourism sector. With 2017 being designated by the United Nations General Assembly as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, we are honoured to host the Awards, as part of the activities to commemorate the year,” she added

The deadline for the entries in the CTO Sustainable Tourism Awards is March 24, 2017.

For more information on the Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Awards, including instructions and guidelines for submissions, visit http://www.onecaribbean.org/caribbean-excellence-sustainable-tourism-awards-2016/

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog

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CTO 2016 Year of Romance ends with Ultimate Jamaican Dream Wedding

New York, NY- Dec 2, 2016 – In collaboration with the Caribbean Tourism Organization year of Romance & www.MarryCaribbean.com, Jamaica will close out 2016 with the Ultimate Jamaican Dream Wedding to take place at the fabulous Moon Palace Jamaica Grande, December 10, 2016.

“This has been a truly collaborative effort and one that again reminds the world that the Caribbean is always the Oasis of the Western Hemisphere with product and service that fosters romance and takes its place on the world stage.  While the Ultimate Jamaican Dream Wedding was geared to the North American market, responses came in from all over the world – from China to Canada, says Jacqueline Johnson, CTC and CEO of www.MarryCaribbean.com & www.CaribbeanWeddingAssociation.com.

The Romance (wedding & honeymoon) market in the U.S. market has seen an uptick in spending with the average couple spending approximately $27,000.00 on their wedding.  Of course the Caribbean collectively enjoys the largest share of the romance market and prediction is that expenditure for destination wedding is poised to grow in 2017.

Jamaica’s commitment to this promotion under the stewardship of Mr. Paul Pennicook – Director of Tourism, puts Jamaica in the forefront of this ‘must buy’ market.  With bridal market expenditure in the North American Market of over $100Billion – the contest was designed not only to close out the Year of Romance but to capture the newly engaged and be a presence in the highest engagement season, a timing that is not lost in the marketing initiatives of the Jamaican Marketing Team.  In addition, the video and photos from the wedding will be used to promote  all sponsors and the Jamaica Bridal Market throughout 2017.

Without partners this program would not have had the massive presence that this promotion generated.  Thanks to:

*Mon Cheri for providing the wedding gown

*1888mytuxes.com for outfitting the groom in the latest tuxedo

*Caribbean Tourism Organization for flight arrangements for the bride & groom on Caribbean Airlines

*Tropicana Jewelers for providing gift certificate of US$1,000.00 to the lucky couple

*Jewel Runway Bay Beach Resort for the first year anniversary trip

*Glamour Tours for transportation in Jamaica

*Brenda O’Neale, Travel Agent extraordinaire of With This Ring Destination Wedding & Honeymoon

*Reggae Superstar Christopher Martin will serenade the couple (live) with his hit song “Take My Love”

*Moon Palace Jamaica Grande: providing the beach wedding ceremony from the Palace Resorts exclusive Nautical Wedding Collection.

With over 2 million weddings in the U.S. Market “today’s consumers are empowered and travel savvy and know more about their travel options than ever before. At MarryCaribbean.com we pride ourselves on providing the tools to enable them to make informed choices with ready access to our advertisers and their products” she concluded.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Destination News

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Antigua and Barbuda celebrates historic arrival of the MS Anthem of the Seas

St. John’s, Antigua (December 2, 2016) – One of the largest cruise vessels in the world, and the largest cruise vessel to dock into Antigua and Barbuda, the MS Anthem of the Seas, made her presence felt in Antigua and Barbuda today, as she towered over other vessels in Heritage Quay, on her inaugural arrival into Antigua with a host of fan-fare and celebrations from the Government and People of Antigua and Barbuda.

Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Asot Michael extended a warm and hearty welcome to both Royal Caribbean International and MS Anthem of the Seas, her Captain and Crew, during the inaugural ceremony on board the vessel.

The Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda, Sir Rodney Williams, The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, The Hon. Gaston Browne, over 200 Government officials, dignitaries, stakeholders and invited guests were present for the on-board inaugural ceremony this morning.

In speaking to the Captain of the vessel on the inaugural visit, the Tourism Minister said, “We view this visit as a true sign of the confidence that Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines has in Antigua and Barbuda as a marquee destination capable of offering a first class experience to your cruise guests.

“We could not have thought of a more fitting way to commission the extension and improvements of our Heritage Quay Pier but to have history record that the Anthem of the Seas was the first ship to use these facilities on her inaugural voyage to our shores! So your arrival is an inaugural event – not just in terms of your visit, but for the seminal moment that it marks for our growing cruise industry overall.”

The Heritage Quay pier was extended to accommodate the large quantum class vessel.  The commissioning of the extension of the pier is scheduled to take place later this afternoon at 2:00 p.m. with another event, where hundreds of Antiguans and Barbudans have been invited to share in the historic moment.

To further mark the occasion, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda, has also announced that duty free shopping will be implemented throughout the Heritage Quay and Redcliffe Quay area in celebration of the inaugural visit.

Duty free shopping is extended to all residents without the requirement of proof of travel that normally indicates that the goods purchased are leaving the country. This will be for one day only on Friday 2nd December from 9:00 a.m. 9:00 p.m.

This inaugural event will be celebrated with major activities in the Quay well into the evening after the ship has departed.

The 4220 passengers plus 1603 crew will have a major economic impact leading into the busy Christmas shopping season.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Destination News

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