CTO News

Saint Lucia Tourist Board reports another successful North American Showcase

Saint Lucia (August 03, 2015) – The Saint Lucia Tourist Board and industry partners have hailed the just concluded North American Showcase “another fruitful and productive marketplace encounter”. The 2015 North American Showcase attracted twenty-five international wholesale and tour operator companies, and double that number out of the domestic market.

According to the Director of Tourism Louis Lewis, another indicator of success for the Board has been the admirable level and quality of partner support extended by award winning Saint Lucian resorts and tourism and hospitality service providers.

“The vision and aim of the Showcase can only be fully realized with the input of our resorts and allied services. In that regard we are very pleased for the partnership of Windjammer Landing Beach Resort, Capella Marigot, Ladera, Jade Mountain, Anse Chastanet, NatMed, Holiday Taxi, FLOW, Barefoot Holidays and Sugar Beach Resort and Spa this year.”

The North American showcase is an annual marketing event by the Saint Lucia Tourist Board to connect tour operators from the US and Canadian Markets with owners and executives of tourism related services from Saint Lucia. Among its manifold objectives, is the forging of new business partnerships and building product knowledge among those who sell Saint Lucia, through a destination exploration experience.

A much anticipated highlight of the program every year is the announcement and recognition of top selling tour operators. This year, six leading tour operators from the US and Canada were singled out for recognition for top sales performance during a dinner ceremony set against the backdrop of picturesque Marigot Bay. The Capella Resort sponsored event culminated the opening day, Friday August 1st.

From Canada, Classic Vacations took the award for the Most Improved Sales Support from a tour operator, having sold the largest volume of room nights to Saint Lucia from that market, while Air Canada Vacations copped the Top Producing Canadian Tour Operator award 2014. Out of the US market, EXPEDIA made off with the Top Producing Online Tour Operator award while   Travel Impressions took the award for Top Producing Traditional Tour Operator, as the On-line tour operator who has produced the greatest number of room nights out of the US market for 2014.  BOOKING.COM was named the Fastest Growing Tour Operator having demonstrated the greatest growth for 2014 over 2013.

This year saw the introduction of a new award category – Best Producing Tour Operator for Weddings & Honeymoons which was captured by Travel Impressions.  Each recipient received a one of a kind sculpture commissioned by the Board from Saint Lucia’s iconic and internationally celebrated sculptors – Eudovic Studios.

According to the Tourism director, the awards are determined annually from analysis of confidential statistics collected from the partners by the Board. In his remarks to the business partners and sector representatives in attendance, the Director emphasized the value placed by the Board on nurturing its partnerships and continually investing in building product knowledge and in recognizing the performance of the partners who interface with the market.

“Saint Lucia salutes all of the tour operators here with us this evening as your business is very important to Saint Lucia. Tonight we are celebrating combined successes, for we recognize that your success is our success, and our success comes as a consequence of your performance”, Mr. Lewis said.

The packed three-day program also included breakfast visits to resorts in the north, and western coast site visits by cruise, to Anse Chastanet, Jade Mountain and Ladera Resorts with dining at Sugar Beach, a Viceroy Resort.  The curtains came down on the packed three-day program with an All-White Spa and Beachside Party sponsored by Windjammer Hotel. The event started out with a tour of the resort’s newly completed Spa and Gym Facilities, then a Dancing Congo Line to the Beach followed by dinner served under all white decorated tents. A farewell brunch sponsored by Coconut Bay Beach Resort in the island’s south brought an official close to the program on departure day.

Posted in: 2015 News, Blog, Destination News

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New luxury hotel breaks ground in Puerto Rico’s central mountain region

August 4, 2015, OROCOVIS, Puerto Rico – Yesterday the prestigious Nayara hotel chain and Toro Verde Adventure Park came together for a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the construction of the new luxury Nayara Toro Verde Hotel in Orocovis. The Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC) is excited to welcome the Nayara flag to Puerto Rico, specifically to Toro Verde Adventure Park in the central mountain range region. The Nayara  hotel chain, which is no longer exclusive to Costa Rica with its expansion to Puerto Rico, has ample
brand recognition and holds a high reputation in the international tourism industry community.

“In addition to the prestige that the construction of a Nayara hotel brings to our destination’s tourism industry, the project also represents an important initiative for the economic development of the mountain region and Puerto Rico,” stated Ingrid I. Rivera Rocafort, executive director of the PRTC. “The first phase of the construction process represents a $2.5 million investment which will create between 50 and 60 jobs. In its operational phase, the hotel will employ between 50 and 60 additional individuals.”

In addition to its economic contribution, the hotel will also supplement Puerto Rico’s tourism industry as plans for expansion are already underway. The first phase of construction will include 20 luxury cabins, a lobby, common guest areas, and a swimming pool. The hotel is expected to comply with all the PRTC’s requirements to be certified as an eco-touristic development. According to Rivera Rocafort, plans for the completed construction project include a total of 50 cabins for an estimated comprehensive investment of $6 million in the island’s economy.

“Toro Verde is a dream come true,” said Jorge Jorge, CEO of Toro Verde. “Thanks to your support and our desire to always be innovators and stay on the cutting edge of the eco-tourism trends, we have joined forces with the Nayara flag, a world renowned five-star hotel chain with plenty of experience in providing unforgettable experiences to their guests. These facilities in the Toro Verde Mountains will bring a new perspective to the luxury and ecotourism niche markets in Puerto Rico. I am positive that this is the beginning of another successful undertaking, one that will showcase the potential of our beautiful Island to the world.”

“Today is a very important day for us,” said Mr. Fredy Obando, Nayara Hotel Company.  “It marks the first time Nayara Hotel expands its horizons beyond Costa Rica. We are very excited that this growth is happening in this beautiful island and within such a successful project as Toro Verde is. I am sure that this partnership be very beneficial to Puerto Rico and will attract a new market to the destination.”

The groundbreaking ceremony for the hotel in the renowned nature adventure park also included the inauguration of the Labyrinth Rope Course. The innovative, $200,000 structure measures 60 feet by 60 feet and boasts 36 different adventure courses, including suspension bridges, canopies, obstacles, and rappelling lines. The Labyrinth Rope Course will be the largest in America and have a capacity to host 50 people per hour. It will be used mainly for team building dynamics and birthday celebrations.

“We are grateful to the Nayara Hotel Company for its trust in Puerto Rico as a travel destination and the developers of the Toro Verde for their vision and commitment to creating a unique adventure park,” said Rivera Rocafort. “This park will continue to attract travelers to our Island in search of adventures such as the challenging ‘The Beast’ zip line, the newly inaugurated Labyrinth Rope Course and the upcoming Nayara Toro Verde Hotel. At the Puerto Rico Tourism Company we are very fortunate to have Toro Verde as an ally of the tourism industry and the promotion of Puerto Rico as a five-star destination”.

Posted in: 2015 News, Blog, Destination News

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Grand Bahama Island visitor occupancy soars for summer 2015

Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas – August 5, 2015: Grand Bahama Island visitor arrivals and occupancy levels have increased significantly this year. Statistics show that the occupancy rate for Grand Bahama Island in June has increased by 18.2% compared to the previous year, to 72%. Another sign of increased demand is a 40.1% increase in the year-to-date number of room nights sold in June was 253,941 versus 181,248 from the previous year. The amount of available rooms was 352,767 in June 2015, as compared to 337,009 last year, an increase of 4.6%.

Partnerships with Vacation Express, Sunwing Travel Group, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, the Grand Bahama Island Promotion Board, Balearia and Grand Celebration Cruise Line have all been instrumental in the outreach efforts this summer, selling great package deals and fantastic accommodations. Sunwing Travel Group, specifically, has sold 76,538 room nights in June 2015—a phenomenal increase of 90.52%, which could not have been accomplished without strong collaboration between all partners. Since the inception of Sunwing’s operation on Grand Bahama Island in January 2014, they have sold an average of 8,100 room nights per month, through June 30, 2015.

Additionally, Vacation Express’ summer program has booked 21,153 passengers this year compared to 10,000 passengers booked last year. One of the main factors in the success of the packages offered by Vacation Express and Sunwing Travel Group has been the strategic multi-pronged promotion plan implemented by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism in the US market. The plan included not only national promotion of the packages but media blitzes in the eight gateway cities in the US, with multiple interviews with local media from broadcast to print to radio, geo-targeted radio and digital ads and geo-targeted PR outreach.  The marketing plan resulted not only in successfully raising Grand Bahama Island’s brand awareness and driving destination desire but also in increased bookings.

Rounding out the successful increases in visitors, since resumption of service in February of this year, the Grand Celebration Cruise Line has sold a resounding 23,804 room nights, with the Grand Lucayan receiving 78.5%.

“The Bahamas’ tourism industry continues to reap the results of all of its hard work and dedication from both the public and private sector. The increase in business is a direct result of the combined, strategic efforts across the board. We still have lots of work to do, but we are on the right track,” said the Honourable Minister of Tourism, Obie H. Wilchcombe.

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Belize Tourism Board hosts annual Tourism Industry Conference

Belize City, Belize – July 30, 2015 – The Belize Tourism Board will be hosting its annual Tourism Industry Conference on August 1st, 2015. The venue is set in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, at Fido’s Courtyard.

The purpose of the event is to update industry partners about the tourism accomplishments over the past year in the “Year in Review”, and inform on strategies implemented for the ‘Year Forward’. This year’s event will have a slight twist from the usual setting, as there will be two informative sessions administered by local and international panelists. The topics and panelists are listed below:

a) Service Excellence: A Silent Seller – focused on hospitality and customer service

  • Importance in the Caribbean- Dr. Emil Lee- President of Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association
  • Importance of Service Excellence in Wedding Destination- Mrs. Jacqueline Johnson- President of Global Bridal Group
  • Importance of Training in Service Excellence – Carlos Cuellar Chair of Tourism & Business Studies, Stann Creek Ecumenical College

Moderator- Javier Gutierrez– Manager of Banyan Bay and Hospitality trainer

b) Digital Marketing- focused on branding, social media, and online mediums of marketing

  • How to bridge offline and online media: QR Codes- Ms. Tanya Mc Nab from Mc Nab Designs
  • Digital Domination: A precursor on working the cursor for your brand- Mr. David Fiedler- Olson International
  • Importance of Digital Marketing to Cruise Passengers- Allison Smith Media and Marketing Manager for Norwegian Cruise Line

 Moderator- Roberto Harrison Marketing Manager Chaa Cree

The event is scheduled for 9:30 a.m.-3:00 p.m. A boat will be leaving Belize City from San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi terminal at 7:00 a.m. and leaves San Pedro to return at 3:30 p.m. on August 1st, 2015. The boat will stop in Caye Caulker both ways. Attire is business casual and you are asked to RSVP with Neuton Garcia at 227-4240 or [email protected]


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New airline carrier to Belize

Belize City, Belize – July 29, 2015 – Today, a press conference was held at the Best Western Belize Biltmore Plaza Hotel, announcing airline services to Belize via Copa Airlines.

Starting December 8th, 2015 Copa airlines will be offering 2 weekly flights to Belize City from Hub de la Americas Panama City, Panama. With this new addition, Copa Airlines will now expand its route to 75 cities and 31 countries in North, Central, South and the Caribbean with Belize being the 7th in Central America.

With the addition of Belize, they are now covering all of Central America, strengthening their regional leadership.

Panama City, Panama. July 29th, 2015
“For Copa Airlines it is with much joy that we announce this new destination with which we consolidate our leadership in the region, strengthen our existing routes while at the same time allowing us to offer better connectivity and world class service to all of Central America, from Hub de las Americas, in Panama. The connectivity will open enormous opportunities for tourism and commercial development for this interesting Caribbean country, as well as allowing for tourist from the same region to have the opportunity to enjoy all the tourism and commercial strengths Belize has to offer”

Said Pedro Heilbron, Executive president for Copa Airlines.

Flight CM 281 will leave Belize City Tuesdays and Fridays at 2:17 p.m., arriving at ‘Hub de las Americas’ at the Tocumen International Airport  in Panama City at 5:34 p.m. The return flight, CM 280, will leave Panama Tuesdays and Fridays at 11:29 a.m. arriving in Belize at 12:52 midday. All flights are local time and the flight time is approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes.

For its direct flight to Belize, Copa will be operating a modern Embraer 190 aircraft with capacity for 94 passengers, 10 in Executive Class and 84 in the main cabin. This aircraft is characterized for having 2 seats in each side of the isle without a center seat, which makes it more attractive and comfortable for passengers.

From Hub de las Americas in Panama, Copa airlines offers more international flights than any other airline with a center of operations in this continent. The flight from Belize to Panama was programmed to provide convenient connection to Sao Paulo, Brazil; San Jose, Costa Rica; Bogota, Cartagena and Medellin in Colombia; Santiago de Chile, Chile; Quito and Guayaquil in Ecuador; Managua, Nicaragua; Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago; Havana, Cuba; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Lima, Peru. The passengers in transit will not need to pass through immigration or wait in a customs line, and their luggage will be checked at their final destination. In addition, Belizeans will have access to the top 5 biggest shopping malls in Latin America, a “Stop Over” two nights free of charge in Panama, and easier access to the Caribbean and Latin America for business and vacation.

“I must reiterate how important this partnership is, as COPA will not only supply significant potential markets for Belize, but also offer excellent and competitive linkages to the Caribbean, Central and especially to the South American market. Currently, the latter represents less than 5% of overnight tourist arrivals to Belize, with the biggest barrier being limited accessibility. As a result, and in keeping with our initiation of strategic and targeted marketing efforts in South America, this partnership could not come at a more opportune time”.

Hon. Manuel Heredia Jr. – Minister of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation.

For more information on Copa Airlines, please contact Marketing and Public Relations Manager, Noriko Gamero.

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Nutmeg Princess comes alive at the Underwater Sculpture Park

(St. George’s, Grenada) 21st July 2015 – The Nutmeg Princess has been added to the world’s first underwater sculpture park at Moliniere Bay in Grenada. The statue depicts Grenada’s first fairy tale princess emerging from a large nutmeg pod, reaching to the heavens with a handful of Grenada’s most famed spice, the nutmeg. The 11-foot tall sculpture was inspired by the 1992 book The Nutmeg Princess by Grenadian author/playwright Richardo Keens-Douglas and designed by artist Lene Kilde.

“I am humbled. Seeing the sculpture of the Nutmeg Princess descend into the water made me feel like a child reading the book all over again! It is an honour to know that something so Grenadian and enchanting now has a home at a beautiful underwater park,” remarked Richardo Keens-Douglas.

The Nutmeg Princess has since been republished over six times, has been scripted into a play, and has recently been included in Canada’s top 100 books for children of all time. In the story, the princess is a positive character who represented the land. Her motto being “If you believe in yourself all things are possible.”

This iconic statue now joins nearly one hundred (100) sculptures at the underwater sculpture park that was developed in 2007. The park is an artificial reef that forms a substrate for the growth of marine life. Strategically placed within a Marine Protected Area, this marine gallery can be seen by snorkelling, diving and viewing from a glass bottom boat.

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Harbour Island wins “Best Island in the Caribbean” in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards 2015

NASSAU, BAHAMAS, JULY 9, 2015……Harbour Island, Bahamas, has won top honors as Best Island in the Caribbean in the prestigious Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards 2015. Harbour Island was voted “Best Island in the Caribbean” by the publication’s most discerning travelers, who rated their experiences in the annual World’s Best Awards 2015 readers’ survey.  This is the second time that Harbour Island has received this influential award.

“We are thrilled to receive this impressive award, a fitting tribute to this lovely island that was once the capital of the Bahamas,” said Joy Ann Jibrilu, Director General of Tourism for The Bahamas.  “We invite everyone to discover the magical pink sand beaches, secluded coves and gorgeous coral reefs of this island treasure, and enjoy the unique experiences that so impressed Travel + Leisure’s global travelers.”

For the last 20 years, the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards has been the travel industry’s leading barometer of the places and companies that are satisfying the most passionate and sophisticated travelers in the U.S.

According to Travel + Leisure Editor Nathan Lump, “The Awards showcase a widely changed travel landscape, one in which exotic destinations, intimate hotels, and one-of-a-kind experiences stand out from the crowd—the preferences of individuals who have been all around the world and are seeking out ever more distinctive travel options.”

The complete survey results are featured in the August issue of Travel + Leisure, which goes on sale on newsstands July 17.

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