CTO News

Saint Lucia celebrates 2nd Annual PADI Women’s Dive Day

SAINT LUCIA (July 22, 2016) – The Saint Lucia Tourist Board is pleased to have joined divers around the globe on Saturday July 16th, 2016 to celebrate the second annual PADI Women’s Dive Day.

Last year, PADI Women’s Dive Day featured events across 65 countries and all seven continents. Men and women from Alaska to Argentina, France to the Philippines enjoyed a day of diving together to celebrate the contributions of women to the sport. PADI Women’s Dive Day espouses that scuba diving is about community, as diving is a great way to network and share experiences with friends or family.

The event was promoted locally with a competition for the female divers. Hoteliers and Dive Shops around the island were invited to submit a nomination of their best female diver(s) and their accomplishments and provide a reason why these women should be recognized for PADI Women’s Dive Day. Nominations were received from the following:

  • Dive Saint Lucia – Wendy John
  • Dive Saint Lucia – Dawn Shewan
  • Body Holiday – Nikelia Williams
  • Body Holiday – Merlissa Brown
  • Anse Chastanet Hotel – Zita Glace
  • Sandals Grande – Nathalia Clement
  • Sea Adventures Inc – Hardasher Agdomar
  • Eastern Caribbean Diving – Eget Martyr

 The nominees were asked to submit a video and a biography and were assessed based on Dive knowledge/experience, overall presentation of the submission, and video content.

1st place went to Dawn Shewan (Dive Saint Lucia), in 2nd place was Nathalia Clement (Sandals Grande) and 3rd place went to Zita Glace (Scuba St. Lucia).

The SLTB’s Marketing Manager for Niche Markets Jemima Lorde expressed delight that Saint Lucia seized the opportunity to recognize its women folk in this capacity.  Lorde, a former PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer, EFR (Emergency First Response) Instructor as well as a swim coach, highlighted the “struggles and hardship that one must endure (especially as a female) in becoming a professional diver let alone making it a lifelong career.”

The following hotels have partnered with the Saint Lucia Tourist Board to provide prizes for the participants: Ti Kaye Resort & Spa, Bay Gardens Hotel, Royal St Lucia Resort & Spa and BLU Hotel.

For more information about the island of Saint Lucia, call 1-800-456-3984, or 1-888 4STLUCIA or visit http://stlucia.org/.

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British Virgin Islands Tourist Board announces new BVI Secrets Revealed Travel Agent Specialist Program

TORTOLA, B.V.I. — The British Virgin Islands Tourist Board (BVITB) proudly announces the launch of the BVI Secrets Revealed Travel Agent Specialist Program, along with its accompanying mobile app and website, www.bvisecretsrevealed.com. This program will connect the travel advisor community to the BVI by offering industry insiders access to exclusive insights and tools that allow clients to discover the unique and exciting aspects of the destination.

The BVI Secrets Revealed Travel Agent Specialist Program features three main areas of content: Destination Discovery, Product Showcase & Supplier Directory, and the Sales Toolbox. The tabs enable professionals to continually discover, re-visit, share, and reinforce their sales knowledge of the BVI, while empowering them to tell the most impactful story possible about the destination. Travel advisors will be able to easily access all the sales collateral they need, including videos, brochures, presentations, top 10 lists, maps, and more. By allowing users to select filters and quickly find properties that will surprise and delight clients, the new mobile app and website are indispensable tools for travel advisors.

After registering and completing a specialist program exam, travel advisors will be able to participate in on-site training and one-on-one webinars with Business Development Managers. As an added bonus, advisors who complete training will be qualified to win a complimentary trip to the BVI in 2017 and beyond. Additionally, a rewards program for travel advisors will kick off in 2017.

“We’re thrilled to work more closely with the travel advisor community through our new BVI Secrets Revealed Travel Agent Specialist Program,” said Sharon Flax-Mars, Director of Tourism. “This program provides advisors with all the tools they need to book trips for their clients to our beautiful piece of paradise and help them discover Nature’s Little Secrets.”

As a BVI Secrets Revealed Specialist/Advisor, each member will receive:
•        A personalized certificate
•         Continuing Education credits from the US Travel Institute
•         Marketing collateral templates
•         Sales Support from Business Development Managers
•         Concierge support for clients
•         Access to special rates from industry partners
•         Access to consumers via the BVITB’s website, www.bvitourism.com

The program can be accessed via the BVI Secrets Revealed Sales Companion mobile app, available for iOS and Android, or the dedicated website, www.bvisecretsrevealed.com.

The BVI has recently received accolades in the travel industry. BVI’s Virgin Gorda was named The Best Island in the Caribbean, Bermuda, and the Bahamas in Travel + Leisure’s annual “World’s Best Awards.” Additionally, the BVI was named the #1 Best Place to Visit in the Caribbean by US News & World Report.
 

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Visitors spending more in Barbados

BARBADOS, Bridgetown. July 11, 2016 – Long stay visitors to Barbados spent 20 percent more money during the first quarter of 2016 than during the same period in 2015. 

These are the findings of the quarterly survey conducted by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) on behalf of the destination.  According to the report, total visitor expenditure on island grew from US $280 million to US $337 million in the first quarter.  This was achieved through a 14.9 percent increase in visitor average length of stay and a total growth of 7.4 percent in visitor arrivals. The latter compensated for a decline in the average daily spend of 5.6 percent to generate the recorded growth in expenditure of US $57 million in the first quarter of 2016.

Overall Barbados was able to achieve growth in the average length of stay for all markets during the period with the exception of the Caribbean which remained unchanged.  This resulted in an overall increase of 8.9 percent in the visitor expenditure per person per trip.  Additionally, all markets, with the exception of the Caribbean, recorded increases in visitor expenditure per person per trip, with the USA leading the way with an significant 42.4 percent increase in spending by American guests.  Conversely, the Caribbean was the only market that did not record an increase in the visitor expenditure per person per trip.  Instead, there was a 28 percent reduction in average daily spend from that market.

A breakdown of the spending by market during the first quarter revealed that the visitors from the USA market spent the most on average per day; US $240.78 represented an increase of 22 percent or US $43.75.

This coincides with an improved US economy and lower oil prices, as well as additional airlift out of Boston and New York during the reporting period, which generated more than 4800 additional seats.

There was an increase in expenditure from all of the markets, with the exception of the Caribbean. Visitors from the UK contributed to 43 percent of the overall total expenditure with US $146 million, an increase of US $23 million over Q1 2015.  Total expenditure by visitors from the USA and Canada followed with US $83 million and US $53 million, respectively.  Meanwhile, spend by European visitors totaled US $27 million, an increase of eight percent.  On island spend by travelers from other countries, which include Latin America, Asia and Africa rose by three per cent to approximately US $10 million.

Spending Habits

Respondents, who represented one person per family and/or spending party, also revealed details on how they spent their holiday monies.

The largest share of traveler’s spend, 55.1 percent, went to accommodation, a decline of 2.6 percent year-on-year. This was followed by food and beverage outside of the accommodation establishment, 18.2 percent, an increase of 0.5 percent.

Miscellaneous spending was recorded at 10 percent, 1.8 percent more than in the first quarter of 2015, while transportation, entertainment/ recreation and souvenirs all recorded small increases.  Shopping for items not categorized as souvenirs was the only category of spending to record a small decline of 0.6%.

Spending by Types of Accommodation

The CTO report also examined spending by types of lodging.  Visitors using ‘Other Hotel Accommodation’, a category which includes the vast majority of hotel accommodation with the exception of all-inclusive properties, had the largest average daily spend of US $305.69 an increase of 12.5 percent or US $33.97 over Q1 2015.  Barbados achieved increases in average daily spend in the majority of other accommodation categories, including Guest Houses, Friends and Relatives, Villas and Condos.  However, decreases were registered for persons staying in all inclusive accommodation, apartments and ‘Other’ category.

CEO, William Griffith of The Barbados Tourism Marking Inc. (BTMI) mentioned that, “ We continue to be very encouraged by the positive direction in visitor arrivals and, even more importantly, in visitor expenditure. This makes the role of the BTMI and our partners at the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA) and the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) so important in creating more exciting and compelling ways for visitors to spend their money on the island.

Hoteliers had predicted a strong first quarter and these results reflect that expectation. This is just one quarter so we continue to be very cognizant and focused on sustained success in the tourism sector. The recent Brexit decision in the UK has posed a challenge in our number one source market. We are confident that our entire team will rise to the challenge of influencing continued positive growth in the industry”

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Go green on the Caribbean’s Emerald Isle: Montserrat

Brades, Montserrat – July 12, 2016 – The Caribbean island of Montserrat, known as “the other Emerald Isle” – a nation rich in tradition and culture – has reached a new milestone on the road to developing the island’s tourism infrastructure. By focusing on sustainable practices that include ‘green’ energy development and usage, the island continues its efforts to bounce back from the volcanic activity in the mid-1990s.

With the creation and successful testing of two geothermal wells, and plans in place for a third, the foundation has been laid for an energy program that will ensure the destination is fully sustainable. Situated in the region between Weekes Village and Garibaldi Hill, near the now buried capital city of Plymouth, the development of the energy program is critical to the island’s future. Previously a reminder of Montserrat’s past, the ash-laden town, considered a modern-day Pompeii, is now poised to become a major attraction.

In partnership with an Icelandic drilling company, and backed by the UK government’s British Overseas Territory’s Master Plan for Growth, Montserrat’s geothermal wells will produce environmentally-friendly, long-lasting energy, sufficient to power the island in the near future. Geothermal energy is playing a key role in the transformation of the island, making not only a sustainable environment but also an attractive destination.

The island of Montserrat offers an array of activities for travelers including birding, hiking, diving, snorkeling and more. The island is a haven for dive enthusiasts, with pristine reefs communities and marine habitats. The unspoiled island allows travelers to immerse themselves into the local culture and cuisine with no fast food restaurants and little to no traffic on the roads. Additionally, the island offers a number of luxurious villas that won’t break the bank, and provides unbeatable views. Visit www.visitmontserrat.com.

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Get hitched & honeymoon in Montserrat

Brades, Montserrat – July 12, 2016Couples looking to ditch the traditional and get hitched island-style need look no further than the picturesque tropical island paradise of Montserrat. Soft pearl-grey volcanic sand under the bride and grooms toes, crystal blue waters beating against the shore and the Caribbean sun’s glow gives way to the perfect ambiance for nuptial bliss. Couples can tie the knot in a sunlit garden wedding with the enticing Soufriere Hills Volcano as a scenic backdrop, or pledge their devotion at the edge of the deep blue sea. Montserrat features many breathtaking natural locations for an unforgettable wedding venue or honeymoon escape.

After vows have been exchanged and the ceremony is over, Montserrat’s unspoiled island getaway offers couples an idyllic setting for a memorable honeymoon. Intimate villas, cozy bed & breakfasts, charming hotels and quaint inns provide a romantic stay for newlyweds. For the adventure seeking honeymooners, Montserrat is ideal for an eco-adventure getaway. Enjoy a romantic picnic whilst viewing the volcano from Jack Boy Hill, which is one of the few areas on the island that provides first-rate views of the Soufriere Hills Volcano or, erupt with excitement at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory where visitors learn about the history and science behind this natural wonder or host your wedding with the spectacular mountain as your back drop, a perfect location for that extraordinary, memorable wedding.

Newlyweds can also dive into the deep on scuba/snorkel excursions and venture under the sea in explorable areas covering more than 13 miles of coastline, witnessing everything from colorful reef, fish and sea plumes to stony ledges, spiny lobsters and copper sweepers.  Honeymooners can step into the unknown in a variety of hiking adventures. “The Blackwood Allen Trail” offers panoramic views of the northern villages and coastline while the “The Oriole Walkway” is where hikers are most likely to get a glimpse of the Oriole, Montserrat’s national bird.

For those wishing to marry in Montserrat, there are three certificates, which must be obtained before the marriage can be performed:

  1. Governor’s License (approximately $185 USD)
  2. certificates of due publication of banns
  3. Registrar General’s certificate

A minimum stay of three working days in Montserrat is required before application can be made to obtain a Governor’s Marriage License. Applicants must also have the following original documents:

(a) Marriage Application Form (issued by the Office of the Deputy Governor, Consular Division)
(b) Valid Passports of both parties, Original Absolute Divorce Decree (if divorced)

(c) Original Death Certificate of deceased spouse (if widowed)
(d) Non-Marriage Certificate (if applicable)

For more information on Montserrat’s marriage requirements contact [email protected]

About Montserrat

Montserrat, the only country outside of Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as a national holiday, is a lush green and mountainous island of approximately 39 square miles that lies in the Eastern Caribbean chain of islands. Known fondly as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, this pear shaped island is a traveler’s paradise for nature lovers, divers, adventurers, family and villa vacationers, and honeymooners.  This British overseas territory boasts the spectacular Soufrière Hills Volcano, a modern day Pompeii in the form of its buried former capital city Plymouth, alongside lush, green mountains, world class nature trails, deserted dark sand beaches, untouched reefs and a quiet friendly charm reminiscent of the way the Caribbean used to be. For more information on Montserrat and its breathtaking scenery and unspoiled, unpolluted coral and volcanic vistas, visit www.visitmontserrat.com.

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The New Peaks of Perfection Package explores the unexplored island of Montserrat

BRADES, Montserrat –July 12, 2016 – In partnership with Montserrat’s Olveston House and Caribbean Helicopters, Four Seasons Resort Nevis’ new Peaks of Perfection package provides travelers with the rare opportunity to walk atop more than 15 ft. of hardened pyroclastic flow, soak in sunshine on largely isolated beaches and explore the verdant green forests and moonscape-like valleys that have made Montserrat a highly-anticipated destination for visitors wishing to discover and explore the little-known vacation hideaway.

With an itinerary that includes a helicopter tour offering breathtaking aerial views of the former capital city Plymouth, a visit to the home of late Beatles producer Sir George Martin, as well as access to Montserrat’s Exclusion Zone, the package offers travelers an exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime experience of the “Other Emerald Isle.”

The Peaks of Perfection package includes:

  • Takeaway breakfast from Four Reasons Resort Nevis
  • Roundtrip, chartered flight between Nevis and Montserrat on Caribbean Helicopters
  • Guided tour through Montserrat’s landmarks, including the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) where scientists monitor the still-active Soufrière Hills Volcano
  • Entry into Montserrat’s Exclusion Zone with a certified guide
  • Tour of Olveston House, historic home of the late Sir George Martin, long-time producer for The Beatles and owner of the Air Studio Montserrat recording studio
  • Montserratian lunch at Olveston House
  • ‘Essence of the Peaks’ spa ritual at Four Seasons Resort Nevis

The Peaks of Perfection package is available at Four Seasons Resort Nevis. For additional information on the package, call 869-469-1111. For additional information on Montserrat’s Olveston House, call 664-491-5210 or email [email protected] On Montserrat’s Volcano Observatory, call 664-491-5647.

About Montserrat

Montserrat, the only country outside of Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as a national holiday, is a lush green and mountainous island of approximately 39 square miles that lies in the Eastern Caribbean chain of islands. Known fondly as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, this pear shaped island is a traveler’s paradise for nature lovers, divers, adventurers, family and villa vacationers, and honeymooners.  This British overseas territory boasts the spectacular Soufriere Hills Volcano, a modern day Pompeii in the form of its buried former capital city Plymouth, alongside lush, green mountains, world class nature trails, deserted dark sand beaches, untouched reefs and a quiet friendly charm reminiscent of the way the Caribbean used to be. For more information on Montserrat and its breathtaking scenery and unspoiled, unpolluted coral and volcanic vistas, visit www.visitmontserrat.com.

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Top 10 reasons to visit Montserrat

BRADES, Montserrat – July 12, 2016 – Located at the heart of the Leeward Islands chain in the Caribbean, the tiny island of Montserrat boasts a diverse cultural heritage, beautiful landscapes, and unique eco-friendly activities that have made the island a highly-anticipated destination for visitors wishing to discover and explore the little-known vacation hideaway. Recognized for its rich Irish heritage, the “Other Emerald Isle” enables travelers the opportunity to soak in an environment of soothing tranquility, partake in unique adventures that include black-sand beaches and bountiful marine habitats, verdant green forests and moonscape-like lands, as well as immerse themselves in the diverse culture that has made Montserrat a “must-visit.”

Here are the Top 10 Reasons to make Montserrat your next travel stop:

  1. Irish Heritage – Although a British Overseas Territory, the island was settled by Irish indentured laborers and boasts a strong Irish heritage. The Irish legacy is present in the folklore, surnames and even the local speech, which is laced with an Irish brogue. On arrival to the island, the immigration passport stamp is a shamrock. The harp and the figure on the island’s flag are also derived from the Irish heraldry. Additionally, Montserrat is the only nation in the world, outside of Ireland, that celebrates St. Patrick’s Day as a national holiday with week-long events, Montserratian Residents and visitors alike take part in a week of feasts, costumed parades, concerts and cultural exhibitions celebrating the island’s Irish and African heritage.
  2. Volcano Viewing – Characterized by dome-building materials, the Soufrière Hills Volcano holds an irresistible lure. The volcano, which has been active since July 1995, is continually monitored at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO), where international and local scientists conduct research and keep local authorities and residents current with volcanic information. On a clear day, visitors can stop by Garibaldi Hill or other designated safe points for a panoramic view of the volcano and, perhaps spot a thin plume of steam rise from the crater.
  3. A Modern-Day Pompeii – Montserrat’s now- buried capital city, Plymouth, has been compared to a modern-day Pompeii– minus the fossilized bodies. As the only volcanic-buried city in the Americas, Plymouth offers visitors the rare chance to witness a city frozen in time. Although many buildings have been buried by ash and mudflows, some rooftops remain visible. Visitors wishing to access the city may do so through a certified tour operator, a list is available at the Tourism Division.
  4. Luxury Villa Vacations at Bed & Breakfast Prices – Montserrat offers a number of luxurious villas at rental rates that won’t burn a hole in visitors’ pockets. Upon request, most of the villas offer airport and ferry transfers, car rentals, stocked kitchens, housekeepers, baby-sitting services and cooks. Additionally, visitors can enjoy the villa-specific organized activities during their stay. Rates start at USD $1000 per week from mid-April through mid-November for a three-bedroom, three-bathroom villa with a housekeeper, swimming pool, wet bar, wireless internet, washer and dryer.
  5. Birdwatching – The Centre Hills is a haven for birdwatchers and nature lovers alike, boasting over 34 species of birds and diverse flora and fauna. Visitors can observe the Montserrat Oriole, Brown Trembler, Forest Thrush, Bridled Quail-Dove, Green and Purple-Throated Caribs, and the Antillean Crested Hummingbird. Visitors may also hear the distinctive single-note call of the Scaly-Breasted Thrasher, cheery song of the Caribbean Elaenia, peculiar tri-syllable-ending call of the Scaly-Naped Pigeon, and the sweet whistling call of the Yellow Warbler.
  6. World Class Trails — Montserrat’s mountainous vistas, curvy slopes, deep valleys and fertile fields make hiking a natural and popular activity. The island hosts several trails that allow visitors to explore the dramatic diversification of the landscape. “The Blackwood Allen Trail” allows for panoramic views of the northern villages and coastline, while the “Centre Hills Trail” is renowned for its biological diversity, rich habitats and vegetation. “The Oriole Walkway” is where hikers are most likely to get a glimpse of the Oriole, the island’s national bird, while “Duberry’s” and “The Cot” trail provides visitors the opportunity to drink from the cool spring water at “Runaway Ghaut,” where legend has it that if anyone drinks here, he or she is guaranteed to be drawn to Montserrat repeatedly in their lifetime.
  7. Acquatic Adventures The island’s coral reefs are teeming with exotic wildlife, some of which can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Visitors can swim from Little Bay toward Rendezvous Beach, the island’s only white sand beach, and go snorkeling to explore the rich coral and marine life. Divers can also access the two caves that house Montserrat’s colony of Antillean fruit-eating bats with a tour guide. For a unique adventure, visitors may learn lionfish hunting and have the extraordinary opportunity to prepare, cook and eat their catch.
  8. No Fast-Food Chains, Traffic Jams or Noise Clutter – Unlike some of its Caribbean neighbors, Montserrat boasts the serenity that results from the lack of mega-resorts and crowded beaches. This is further exemplified by the fact that Montserrat has no fast-food chain restaurants. Instead, visitors can taste local delicacies and sumptuous island-style cuisine, and may even stumble upon a special gathering serving goat water, a tasty stew cooked on a wood fire, the national dish of the island. Additionally, visitors will find Montserrat’s lack of rush hour congestion and traffic lights refreshing, although it might take some getting used to Montserratians driving on the left side of the road.
  9. Still Growing In Size – Pyroclastic and other flows in the Exclusion Zone areas as a result of volcanic activity have increased the physical size of the island and even created a new beach. Bottomless Ghaut beach is the ideal spot to relax for a leisurely afternoon picnic. Sun lovers can bask on a beach towel or chair nestled on its dramatic black sand while enjoying Instagram-worthy vistas punctuated by distinct rock formations jutting from the sides of craggy cliffs.
  10. Festivals And Culture – In addition to the island’s week-long celebrations for St. Patrick’s Day, Montserrat invites visitors and locals alike to several key festivals that highlight the island’s rich heritage and cultural diversity. Named after the calabash, fruit traditionally used to produce eating utensils, musical instruments and decorative items, the 11th Annual Calabash Festival, which will be celebrated July 17-23, includes a family fun day, hike, island tour, food fair and boat excursion to the former capital city Plymouth. The annual Cudjoe Head Festival, named after the 18th century slave Cudjoe who ran away from his master and was caught and beheaded, will be celebrated July 29-31 with a steel band performance, road race, J’ouvert and an exhibition of goods produced in the village. The Alliouagana Festival of the Word in November brings together acclaimed writers and readers from the Caribbean, North America, the UK and Australia for readings, poetry, conversations, lectures, panel discussions workshops and freestyle performances. Finally, from mid-December to New Year’s Day, Montserrat erupts with an explosion of color, music, revelry, and creativity during the year-end Carnival (Festival), with cultural activities such as calypso competitions, masquerade street performances, J’ouvert, the festival Queen Competition and a parade of costumed troupes on New Year’s Day.

About Montserrat

Montserrat, the only country outside of Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day as a national holiday, is a lush green and mountainous island of approximately 39 square miles that lies in the Eastern Caribbean chain of islands. Known fondly as the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, this pear shaped island is a traveler’s paradise for nature lovers, divers, adventurers, family and villa vacationers, and honeymooners.  This British overseas territory boasts the spectacular Soufriere Hills Volcano, a modern day Pompeii in the form of its buried former capital city Plymouth, alongside lush, green mountains, world class nature trails, deserted dark sand beaches, untouched reefs and a quiet friendly charm reminiscent of the way the Caribbean used to be. For more information on Montserrat and its breathtaking scenery and unspoiled, unpolluted coral and volcanic vistas, visit www.visitmontserrat.com.

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