CTO News

New direct flight: London Heathrow – Barbados by Virgin Atlantic

Commencing Winter 2017, travellers will be able to fly directly between London Heathrow Airport and Grantley Adams International Airport, thanks to a new service from Virgin Atlantic. The new, twice weekly service will launch on December 12, 2017, and flights go on sale from Saturday, February 25.

Currently, flights between Barbados and London are only available to Gatwick Airport. CEO of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), William Griffith, noted that the addition of the new Virgin service will open doors for Barbados. “London Heathrow is the largest airport in the U.K., handling over 70 million passengers annually. These new flights will make Barbados more accessible to passengers travelling on many major airlines that only fly into London Heathrow. We expect that this new route will make Barbados a more competitive and attractive destination to visitors choosing holidays.”

The flights will operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays as part of the Winter 2017 schedule using an Airbus A330. This new service means that Virgin Atlantic will now offer up to 11 Barbados flights per week from three U.K. Airports – Gatwick, Manchester and Heathrow.

Shai Weiss, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic, welcomed the new service, commenting that “The Caribbean has always been a core market for Virgin Atlantic and so we’re excited to announce we’re offering more choice to our customers with the option of flying from Heathrow, Gatwick or Manchester direct to Barbados.”

This news comes on the heels of remarks from the Minister of Tourism and International Transport, the Honourable Richard Sealy, that in 2016 Barbados recorded an all-time high of 6.7% growth in air visitor arrivals. During that year, the U.K. was the primary source market, contributing 35% of stay-over arrivals to the island.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Destination News

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CTO and CHTA Statement on CARICOM’s Decision to Advance the Regional Tourism Agenda

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (21 February, 2017)The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the region’s tourism development agency, and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), the umbrella private sector organization, applaud Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government for taking the lead in recognising the critical contribution of tourism to the economies of member countries and for their commitment to advancing a regional tourism agenda.

Following a presentation, prepared in collaboration with the CHTA, and delivered by CTO secretary general Hugh Riley to the Caribbean leaders at their 28th intersessional in Guyana last week, the Heads of Government supported the advancement of a series of steps addressing transportation and the facilitation of travel, human resource development, building the creative industries, and the marketing of the Caribbean brand.  They also invited CTO and CHTA to come forth with additional information to address the region’s competitiveness and financing for the sustainability of tourism.

They called for an urgent meeting of the Council for Trade and Development (COTED)-Transportation to address air transport issues in particular, including those related to the tourism sector; and supported the establishment of an interim tourism working group to coordinate with regional public and private sector stakeholder groups, the development of specific solutions which can be advanced in priority areas.

The group will comprise representation from the CARICOM Secretariat, the CTO and the CHTA and its mandate includes the preparation of a pilot region-wide public relations and marketing initiative for 2017/2018 for presentation to the Heads at their 38th regular meeting in July.

The CARICOM leaders also agreed that public-private sector partnerships, guiding the development and marketing of tourism for the Caribbean, needed to be more effective and requested that the marketing of tourism encompass, in particular, the eco-tourism product of mainland member states of Belize, Guyana and Suriname.

The CHTA and the CTO firmly believe that tourism is a key driver of socio-economic progress, helping destinations and countries to quickly create jobs and businesses, generate tax revenues and support infrastructure improvements to the benefit of residents and visitor. It is a proven tool to lower unemployment, stimulate indigenous entrepreneurial activity, increase foreign exchange earnings, and grow tax revenues for our treasuries.

However, it is a fiercely competitive business, and we are facing the stark reality that we must find ways of maximizing the collective strength of the Caribbean, if any and all of us are to truly succeed.

The support of the leaders is a progressive and positive move and a welcomed commitment towards furthering the development of our people, so that they can take full advantage of the employment, career and entrepreneurial opportunities available through the region’s largest industry.

We wish to thank the leaders for placing tourism on their agenda. We are particularly appreciative to Prime Minister Perry Christie of the Bahamas, who has responsibility for tourism in the CARICOM quasi-Cabinet, Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe and Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell for advancing the proposed initiative at the meeting.

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Visitors are spending more money on island

In addition to overall growth in arrivals, tourists are on average spending more money during their visits to Barbados. According to the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Quarterly Exit Survey, stayover visitors to Barbados spent a daily average of US $167.41 compared to US $164.40 for the corresponding period in 2015.

2016 also saw a 6.7% increase in actual arrivals, which when coupled with an increased average daily spend, realized a 9.2% growth in overall visitor expenditure on the island. Total expenditure in 2016 was US $984,342 million, compared to US $901,294 million in 2015.

CEO of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), William ‘Billy’ Griffith, asserted that “these favourable conditions are ripe with opportunities for Barbadians. More tourists are coming to our shores and they are spending more. In response, we need to ensure we encourage this upward trend in visitor spend by focusing our efforts on consistently offering exciting, quality experiences.”

U.K. visitors spend most on average

There was an increase in average daily expenditure during 2016 at an estimated US $167.41 compared to US $164.40 for the corresponding period of 2015 – an increase of 1.8% or US$3.01. When the markets were examined, visitors from the United Kingdom spent the most on average, US $184.72, which represented an increase of 4.1% or US $7.22.

Visitors from the Caribbean and Canada territories also spent more in 2016, recording increases of 3.5% and 1.9% respectively.

Overall top performers

Total visitor expenditure increases during 2016 were spread across several markets. The United States recorded an increase of 18.5% in total visitor spend, while the United Kingdom, Canada and the Caribbean region registered growths of 12.6%, 7.4% and 1.3% respectively.

Although the remaining markets saw declines in spend, they contributed generously to the overall total expenditure. Visitors from Europe spent US $61 million during 2016 on island, followed by visitors from “Other” countries which included Latin America, Asia, and Africa which spent US $27 million.

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Air visitor arrivals at all time high

In 2016, Barbados attracted an increase of 6.7%, or 39,641 more visitors than 2015, signaling opportunities for expansion within the industry. Minister of Tourism and International Transport, the Honorable Richard Sealy, said that “this growth stands to have a positive impact on every Barbadian. An increase in stay-over visitors, and an increase in average visitor spend, translate to new and growing opportunities for individuals in the Barbados labour force, as well as the overall economy.”

According to the Barbados Statistical Service, for the period January to December 2016, Barbados recorded 631,513 stay-over visitors. All of the months of the year 2016, with the exception of April, recorded increases in arrivals with December (67,643), November (62,802), January (62,338) and February (60,969) emerging as the peak months. Of these, the highest growth was recorded during the month of November when arrivals grew by 18.5% to a total of 62,802. Even September, a generally slow period, enjoyed a growth of 10.5% when compared with September 2015.

U.K., U.S. retain lion’s share

As in previous years, the United Kingdom remained the primary source market.  This market contributed 35% of stay-over arrivals to the island, or 218,638, an increase of 2.1% from 2015.

The United States followed in second position, capturing 27% of the market share with 168,945 arrivals; registering an increase of 14.1% compared to January to December 2015.

The Caribbean continued to hold its own, contributing 15% of business during the reporting period. Some 99,679 arrivals were recorded (Trinidad & Tobago, 34,000 arrivals and Other Caribbean, 65,679 arrivals). Increases of 14.6% and 12.6% were recorded for Trinidad and Tobago and the other Caribbean territories respectively, when compared with 2015.

Generating 12% of business to Barbados, arrivals from Canada grew from 74,494 during 2015 to 78,903 during 2016, resulting in an increase of 5.9%.

Europe maintained its 6% share of overall business, with Germany as its top performer.

According to in-house figures from the BTMI, there was also a small contribution from Central and South America, particularly Colombia, whose arrivals grew from 776 during 2015 to 2,350 during 2016.

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Barbados celebrates 2017: The Year of Sports

On the heels of a successful Run Barbados in December, comes 2017: The Year of Sports. This designation is one of the pillars of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI)’s comprehensive three-year sports tourism plan.

In keeping with current tourism trends, and a growing traveler appetite for adventure and activity, the BTMI has identified key events aimed at capitalizing on available infrastructure and resources to generate additional business for Barbados.

The Year of Sports 2017 will feature a blend of established calendar favourites, and new, carefully crafted events, covering interests from watersports to cricket and beach tennis. These new events include the OK Dinghy World Championships, the Golden Oldies World Cricket Festival, Barbados Pro World Surf League 3000QS, the Barbados Beach Tennis Open, Barbados Beach Wellness Festival, the Barbados Festival of Cycling, Dragon World Championships 2017 and the Barbados Open Club Championship.

OK Dinghy World Championships (May 25-31) & Finn World Masters Championship (June 3-9)
The OK Dinghy International Association (OKDIA) is the world organization for the OK-Dinghy class.  OK Class Worlds travels to various destinations around the world each year and it is expected that this event will attract at least 100 of the world’s best sailors to compete against each other.  The 2017 World Championships in Barbados will be the class’s 55th championship, and the class will also be celebrating the boat’s 60th anniversary.

In addition, each year the Masters, the Grand Masters and the Legends sail a separate World Championship called the Finn World Masters and feature races among a class of heavier dinghies as seen in the Summer Olympic Games.

Collectively, these events are expected to attract as many as 250 competing boats.  Approximately 500 visitors including the sailors, their family and friends, are expected to converge on the island for what essentially, will be the largest yachting and sailing event ever to be staged in Barbados.

Golden Oldies World Cricket Festival (May 7-14)
Following a successful bid in 2014, Barbados was announced as the host venue for the 2017 edition of the Golden Oldies World Cricket Festival. Held every two years, the competition is geared towards those over the age of 35 from around the world, who love the game of cricket. It provides them with an opportunity to play against fellow enthusiasts, regardless of their abilities. To date there are 32 overseas teams registered for the event, representing a range of countries including Australia, Canada, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. A further 10 local teams are also registered to compete in the event.

Barbados Pro World Surf League 3000 QS (April 16-21)
The World Surf League qualifying world tour is a combination of events which take place at various locations around the world to pick the top finisher to join the elite Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour. The 3,000 events are amongst some of the highest rated qualifying events throughout the year.

Scheduled to be contested in both the men’s and women’s divisions over an eight-day period, this will be a major ground-breaking event for Barbados and presents a massive opportunity to further promote the island as a world-class surfing destination.  Not only does it represent the first time that a surfing event of this magnitude will be staged on the island but it will also be the biggest surfing event in the Caribbean region to date.  In a list of firsts, never before has a Dual 3000 event ever been contested in the Caribbean, an accomplishment to which Barbados can boldly stake claim.

Visitor participation is expected to exceed the 300 mark and will see some of the world’s best surfers competing against local talent. Travelling along with the surfers will be a team of coaches, managers, families and friends, potentially translating to as many as 500 visitors on island.

The Barbados Beach Tennis Open (June 26-July 2)
This invitational beach tennis tournament capitalizes on what is essentially a relatively new sport that is growing rapidly in the European and South American regions, namely Brazil.  Beach tennis combines physical elements of tennis and beach volleyball with a fun, party atmosphere.

The Barbados Beach Tennis Open is expected to feature some of the world’s best male and female beach tennis players, competing in both doubles and mix-doubles. There will also be a Nation’s Cup featuring players from Brazil, France, Italy, Aruba as well as local players competing for the grand prize purse.

Dragon World Championships 2017 (October 28-30)
The popularity of Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Boarding continues to rise. Utilising inflatable SUPs developed by the Red Paddle Co., this event will be the first of its kind to be staged in the region. The Dragon World Series will see teams from around the world competing to have the chance to take part in the first dedicated team World Championships in Barbados and be crowned the first Dragon World Champions.

In the coming months, teams of four people will be taking part in a variety of Dragon races in key regions including the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, the U.S.A, Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand. These races will be part of larger SUP race events, as well as stand-alone Dragon Series events.  The competition will be open to paddlers of any level and competing categories including men’s, women’s, mixed and juniors.

The event is expected to attract a minimum of 20 teams (four members per team plus supporters), in addition to the Red Paddle Co. team, journalists, influencers and Red Paddle Co. ambassadors.

The Barbados Beach Wellness Festival (September 2-3)
Global trends continue to show an increased level of participation in health and wellness activities. Travel for health and wellness as the primary motivation is also on the increase. In response to these trends, Barbados will be hosting a wellness festival over a two-day period this September. The festival will feature yoga sessions from beginner to expert level, including SUP yoga, Thai yoga bodywork, tai chi and capoeira. There will also be beach activities such as workout sessions and watersports, and nature lovers can partake in biking, horseback riding and hiking tours.

In addition to traditional skin and beauty massages, there will be a Speakeasy Tent featuring motivational speakers and live performances. Visitors can also expect a cultural immersion via a Kula Market with art and craft, food and cooking demonstrations.

The Barbados Festival of Cycling (September 9-10)
Geared towards cycling enthusiasts, this event will feature a mix of road cycling activities culminating in a Round the Island Sportive entitled the Barbados 360, and Mountain Bike (MTB) trail rides culminating with a MTB race event.

The road cycling event will comprise four days of cycling to various locations, an event village, and two courses to choose from – the Barbados 360 Gold (112km route) and the Barbados 360 Silver (64km route).

Barbados Open Club Championship (October)
The Sir Garfield Sobers International Golf Tournament is the largest international golfing tournament on island to date.  However, the event remains largely at peak capacity and as such the potential for growth is restricted.  The Barbados Open Club Championship answers the call to further develop Barbados’ golf offerings, targeting clubs across key market jurisdictions.

To qualify, competitions will take place at various clubs within the respective jurisdictions with the eventual winners being invited to Barbados to compete for top honours in the Barbados Open Club Championships.  The competition will be open to Amateurs and Club Professionals, both male and female.

Sports to lead the charge

These events and initiatives during 2017 are expected to diversify the Barbados product and reach fresh audiences. The new events alone are projected to welcome over 2,000 additional visitors to the island. BTMI CEO, William ‘Billy’ Griffith, added that the organization is fully committed to the Year of Sports 2017, which will feature prominently in upcoming promotional activity. “We expect that these new initiatives will contribute to the long-term objective of establishing Barbados as the number one sporting destination in the Caribbean region,” Griffith said.

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Antigua and Barbuda launch world’s first tourism social media channel dedicated to romance

February 14, 2017 (New York, NY) –  Antigua and Barbuda is celebrating Valentine’s Day by launching the world’s first tourism social media channel, dedicated entirely to romance on Facebook. Known for being one of the most romantic destinations in the world, and holding the record for most weddings per capita, Antigua and Barbuda has launched the Facebook ‘Antigua Barbuda Romance’ channel. This new interactive platform provides visitors the best information and tools for those planning their perfect romantic trip.

The Honorable Asot A. Michael, Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy stated, “Introducing a ground-breaking new platform dedicated to romance is just another example of why Antigua and Barbuda is awarded time and again for being the most romantic Caribbean islands. This new initiative cements our position as the leading Caribbean weddings and honeymoon destination and I applaud all of our industry partners for helping us to attain this distinction and recognition in such an integral market. Ultimately, love improves lives, and we look forward to helping couples do just that with the new platform.”

Research shows love and healthy relationships have been proven to improve people’s lives. Benefits range from happiness and improved mental well-being to bolstering immune levels, to improving heart health and helping people to live longer.

The first interactive digital platform dedicated to romance by a destination, Antigua Barbuda Romance features will include: logistics on how to plan the perfect destination wedding, honeymoon tips, favorite activities, top restaurants, and popular beaches. Resources include listings for local romance vendors including wedding planners, photographers and island guides. The platform is manned by romance experts who provide advice and feedback on planning the perfect trip with daily posts to inspire and engage followers.

CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Colin C. James explains, “This interactive new platform allows us to gain valuable customer insights, while increasing our brand awareness and customer loyalty. Our goal is to provide exceptional experiences for all visitors each and every time, and we believe that this tool is another way to provide a richer customer and visitor experience. I look forward to additional relationship building with our visitors, and helping them reap the benefits of romance as only the Caribbean can do.”

As part of the launch, the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority is running a global month-long sweepstakes for one lucky couple from around the world to win a romantic 3-night all-inclusive getaway to Antigua.

To find out more, visit the new ‘Antigua Barbuda Romance’ platform at www.facebook.com/AntiguaBarbudaRomance

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Curaçao stuns in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2017

WILLEMSTAD, CURAÇAO – FEBRUARY 15, 2017 – The colorful ABC island of Curaçao, famed for its picturesque cove-like beaches and shorelines, stunning European architecture, and unique natural beauty, set the stage for this year’s highly anticipated Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2017.  With an unprecedented reach of over 60 million readers worldwide, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit went back to its beach roots to showcase the world’s most exceptional beaches, and Curaçao’s striking blue waters are prominently featured in the magazine, which hits newsstands, the web and mobile platforms today.

The tiny, yet bustling Southern Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao remains one of the most exceptional islands worldwide, offering endless choices for every kind of traveler.  Whether exploring 300 year-old forts and the colorful capital city of Willemstad, sampling delicious cuisine at one of the local markets, or relaxing at one of the island’s 35 beautiful beaches, Curaçao provided no shortage of sensational backdrops for the SI Swimsuit shoot.

“Swimsuit hasn’t been to Curaçao in over 30 years!” says MJ Day, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Assistant Managing Editor.  “Its unique characteristics like the beautiful brightly colored houses in downtown Willemstad set it apart from every other island in the Caribbean. The location really worked for our photographer, Ben Watts, as he loves to shoot in really colorful and vibrant environments…it was a match made in heaven.”

Overlooking the turquoise blue waters of the Caribbean Sea, Curaçao’s historic and elegant Avila Beach Hotel welcomed the SI Swimsuit crew and top models Vita Sidorkina, Rose Bertram, Samantha Hoopes, Barbara Palvin and Myla Dalbesio for the 2017 photo shoot. Featuring luxurious accommodations fit for royalty, Avila Beach Hotel’s warm, white sands and expansive stretch of private beach was an ideal home base and setting for the two-week shoot, photographed by veteran photographer, Ben Watts.

“Sports Illustrated Swimsuit is known for selecting the most remarkable destinations worldwide for their shoots, and we are honored to have been chosen for this issue,” said Eugene Rhuggenaath, Curaçao’s Minister of Tourism and Economic Development. “Curaçao is a hidden gem in the Southern Caribbean, and we encourage readers to experience the island’s unparalleled beaches, welcoming locals, eclectic cuisine, rich culture, and authentic heritage for themselves in the near future.”

To celebrate Curaçao’s appearance in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2017, travelers can re-create the incredible experience that the models enjoyed on island with Avila’s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit-themed “Strike a Pose and Get Spoiled” package which includes:

– A 3 night/4 day stay in Avila’s Octagon Deluxe room where the models’ stayed

– A one-hour Rolls Royce drive, including a one-hour photo shoot by Claudia Sanches from Wow Weddings, as well as makeup & hair on location by Hair & Beauty Experts from Cherie

– A $100 USD food and beverage credit at Avila’s Blues Bar & Restaurant

– A bottle of champagne upon arrival

– A couple’s massage at the Santai Spa

– A romantic dinner at Avila’s Belle Terrace restaurant, including a bottle of wine

– A private boat excursion provided by Small Field Adventures, including a snorkeling adventure, a private beach picnic for two, and a sunset ride along Curaçao’s beautiful coastline to explore some of the locations photographed during the shoot

Package rates begin at $2,499 USD and are valid through December 22, 2017.  Certain blackout dates may apply.  To book, visit www.avilabeachotel.com or call 1-800-747-8162.

The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2017 photos and video shot in Curaçao are available online at si.com/swimsuit and Swim Daily.

For more information on Curaçao, visit www.curacao.com.  For additional details on Avila Beach Hotel, visit www.avilabeachhotel.com.

ABOUT SPORTS ILLUSTRATED SWIMSUIT

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit (www.SI.com/Swimsuit) reaches more than 70 million US adults annually and more men 18 to 34 than the Super Bowl. The iconic brand spans 20 product extensions, along with a vibrant experiential marketing business. Since debuting in 1964, Swimsuit has become a pop-culture phenomenon and a revered launching pad for successful careers in TV, fashion, business and film, including those of Elle Macpherson, Kathy Ireland, Cheryl Tiegs, Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Kate Upton, Chrissy Teigen and Ashley Graham. The fashion industry describes SI Swimsuit as the “Oscars of Swimwear,” as an appearance in the issue is a crowning achievement for swimsuit and accessory manufacturers.

Website: SI.com/Swimsuit     |    Facebook: www.facebook.com/SISwimsuit

Twitter: twitter.com/SI_Swimsuit   |   Instagram: www.instagram.com/si_swimsuit

Snapchat: ‘siswim’ | App: iOS | Android   |  YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/SIswimsuit

Official Hashtag:#SISwim   |   VIBES by SI Swimsuit Festival 2017SI.com/SwimsuitVibes

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