CTO News

CTO hosts first MICE Networking event for UK buyers

LONDON, UK (12 May 2015) – Over 50 buyers attended The Caribbean Tourism Organization’s dedicated MICE networking evening for UK buyers held recently.

By partnering with MICE specialist, Global Connect, the event which took place at Gordon Ramsay’s Heddon Street Kitchen, was the first of its kind for the CTO to showcase what the region has to offer UK buyers.

It proved to be a great success with many partners reporting new enquiries and business leads coming directly as a result of their attendance.

To build on this success, the CTO is aiming to arrange a series of informal networking events throughout the year to directly drive business for members and help develop a strong MICE database of UK & European MICE Buyers.

Carol Hay, director of marketing UK and Europe, Caribbean Tourism Organization, says, “We were really impressed with the quality of the buyers who attended the event and many of the partners have already started to receive leads for potential new business. We wanted to make sure that the event delivered a return on investment for our partners, as well as providing a setting for introductions to some of the MICE market’s key decision makers. We know that the region has a lot to offer groups and we will continue to execute our strategy to attract more group business to the Caribbean.’’

The event was a follow up to the CTO’s recent MICE masterclass held in March to inform some of the CTO’s members on best practice within the market. The CTO plans to host its first MICE fam trip by the end of the year for UK buyers.

Partners who attended the event were:

Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority
Bahamas Tourist Office
Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.
Boucan by Hotel Chocolat, Saint Lucia
Harlequin Hotel & Resorts
Jamaica Tourist Board
Pineapple, Luxury Hotel Specialists (representing  Cobblers Cove, Barbados & Carlisle Bay, Antigua) Resort Marketing International (Representing Occidental Hotels & Resorts, Elite Island Resorts & Sun Group Hotels)
St. Kitts Tourism Authority
Saint Lucia Tourist Board
Sandals Resorts
Trinidad & Tobago Tourist Office
Viceroy Anguilla
Virgin Atlantic
Windjammer Landing, Saint Lucia

UK Buyers interested in learning more about the Caribbean’s MICE product should contact the Caribbean Tourism Organization on 020 8948 0057 or email Lorraine Grant at [email protected] to register their interest.

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The Caribbean’s “smartest” festival, a Literary Jollification in Anguilla

ANGUILLA, B.W.I – May 7, 2015 – This Memorial Day weekend, travelers can combine a relaxing warm-weather getaway with the Caribbean’s “smartest” festival during the fourth annual “Anguilla Lit Fest:  A Literary Jollification” from May 21 – 24. Honoring the literary heritage of Anguilla, the three-day event brings together an accomplished list of celebrity authors and speakers with book lovers and literary connoisseurs to celebrate and explore the creative process. With special room rates currently being offered by participating hotels, including host property Paradise Cove, and Sponsor Hotel, Cuisinart Golf Resort and Spa, and an ever-expanding network of transportation options, including the newly launched service via Seaborne Airlines between San Juan and Anguilla, now is the time to book and finalize travel plans to attend this annual event.

Featured speakers for this year’s event include authors, poets and publishers from a variety of fields, including celebrity novelist, Zane; award-winning author and former Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine, Kate White; best-selling author, lecturer and philanthropist, Elizabeth Nunez; world-renowned author Benilde Little; Grammy-award-winning performance poet, author and motivational speaker, J. Ivy; debut Antiguan author, Joanne Hillhouse; award-winning author and associate publisher of The Sun magazine, Krista Bremer; as well as celebrated author, professor of Creative Writing, and co-founder of the Calabash International Literary Festival in Jamaica, Colin Channer.

The publishing panel features Books Editor of O: Oprah Magazine, Leigh Haber; Editor-in-Chief of Writers’ Digest, Jessica Strawser; Senior Publicity Manager of Atria Books/Simon & Shuster, Yona Deshommes; and critically-acclaimed author, educator and publisher, Dr. Rhoda Arrindell of House of Nehesi Publishers in St. Martin.

A number of Anguilla’s leading literary giants will also be featured at this year’s Lit Fest, including the author of a Fortunate Member of a Caribbean Diaspora, Phillip Arnell; author and host of Positive Living, Marilyn Hodge; noted poet, Lena Gumbs; and performance poet, Timmie Webster.

This year’s event will also celebrate the 2015 Malliouhana Poetry Competition winners,  under the theme, Jollification in the 21st century, which is coordinated by the Anguilla Community College and the Department of Youth and Culture in memory of cultural activist, the late Linda Lake; as well as  presentations by poets of Anguilla’s  soon-to-be-released foundational anthology of poetry, “Where I See the Sun – Contemporary Poetry in Anguilla”, which includes more than 90 poems from 42 seasoned poets and up and coming writers from Anguilla.  A selection of books of the featured guest authors, poets and publishers will be available for purchase on-site from The Anguilla Lit Fest Book Table, which is coordinated by the Anguilla Library Service.

The Anguilla Lit Fest: A Literary Jollification honors Anguilla’s literary heritage and offers another enticing reason to come to the island in the early summer. A registration fee of US$150.00 includes a welcome cocktail party, breakfast and lunch presentations, special sessions with the authors and fun-filled evening soirees. The program also includes a day at leisure on Sunday to ensure that participants will have the opportunity to experience the island’s various offerings, from beaches to culinary to watersports and more. As in previous years, arrangements are being made for students from the Primary Schools to interact with the visiting authors, and for students from the Secondary School to attend the presentation of the event headliner as specially invited guests. There is also a special session for children and young writers on Saturday, May 23 in the afternoon.

Residents of Anguilla can take advantage of a special rate of US$100.00 for Lit Fest 2015, subject to proof of residency.  Registration is available online at www.iVisitAnguilla.com, and tickets can be purchased in person at The Anguilla Tourist Board office and the Anguilla Public Library.

Special vacation packages for the event are being offered by Anguilla’s accommodation establishments, including:  the Host Hotel, Paradise Cove Resort; Sponsor Hotel, Cuisinart Golf Resort and Spa; Little Butterfly Villa; Bird of Paradise Villa; Anguilla Great House Beach Resort; and Nathan’s Cove.  Flights can be arranged on American Airlines/US Airways, Continental Airways, Delta Airlines, JetBlue and United Airlines, through San Juan, Puerto Rico, connecting directly to Anguilla with Seaborne Airlines, or Trade Wind Aviation; through St. Martin with onward connecting flights or ferry into Anguilla; or on regional carrier LIAT. Travel from the Caribbean can also be done through Winair.

For more information on the Anguilla Lit Fest: A Literary Jollification, or to register for this year’s event, go to http://iVisitAnguilla.com/register ; visit our website at www.anguillalitfest.com ; or call 305-444-4033, 800-553-4939, or 264-497-2759.

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Trinidad and Tobago woos Atlanta Business Community

Port-of-Spain, trinidad – May 6, 2015. The Trinidad and Tobago Convention Bureau (TTCB), a department within the Trinidad and Tobago Tourism Development Company (TDC) kicked off its three city North American Road Show at the Ellis Hotel in downtown Atlanta on May 4, 2015.

In attendance was the Honourable Dr. Anil Ramnanan, Consul General of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago of Miami, Florida who brought welcome remarks on behalf of his Consular office and the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.  Dr. Ramnanan endorsed the initiative and invited the packed audience of Meeting Planners and Association Heads in attendance to seriously consider Trinidad and Tobago as a viable destination to host their next big meeting.

Also, speaking at the cocktail reception was Arveon Mills, Sales Manager of the Convention Bureau who made a destination presentation to the audience and debuted a new destination Convention DVD which was warmly received.

Mr. Keith Chin, Chief Executive Officer of the TDC brought the night’s official function to a close and invited the appreciative audience to sample the food and music of the destination while encouraging networking with representatives from Hyatt Regency Trinidad; Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort, Tobago and the Tobago House of Assembly- Shaw Park Complex who were present to promote their various properties and product offerings.

Increasing the number of meetings and events held in Trinidad and Tobago is a key deliverable of the Bureau and the road show is a marketing promotional tool employed to build awareness of Trinidad and Tobago as a Meeting, Incentive, Conference and Exhibition (MICE) destination in the USA and to promote the services offered by the TTCB in an effort to increase bid opportunities.

Worldwide, at least 50 million trips are taken each year for MICE purposes which according to the World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC) Economic Impact report is expected to rise by 3.7 % per annum to USD 1,666.1 bn in 2024. Current trends indicate that with an improving global economy, there is once again a renewed demand for meetings and events for associations to showcase their latest products and attract clients.

The United States of America continues to be the main source market for arrivals to the destination with over 80,000 MICE arrivals per annum and 39% of total stop over arrivals, making it a lucrative lead generation strategy to position Trinidad and Tobago as the place to do business. Trinidad and Tobago’s presence in these cities will aim to strengthen relationships with key meeting planners in the North American market.

Other cities included in the road show are Washington DC and New York which like Atlanta are headquarters to a large number of associations, professional bodies and Caribbean interests who are heavily vested in the MICE market and are looking for new destinations to bring their meetings and conferences. The road show rolls into Washington DC at the Grand Hyatt Washington on May 6th and concludes in New York City on May 8th at the W New York Times Square.

The Trinidad and Tobago Convention Bureau (TTCB) acts as a liaison between meeting planners and local suppliers and offers a number of complimentary services. These services include assistance with conference bids, site inspections, destination information packages and tour proposals.

For more information on the North American Road Show or the Trinidad and Tobago Convention Bureau please contact Arveon Mills, Sales Manager, Trinidad and Tobago Convention Bureau at [email protected]  or visit our website at www.gotrinidadandtobago.com/trinidad/meetings.

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JetBlue expands Caribbean network by adding new seasonal Boston-Barbados route

BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS. May 1, 2015 — JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ: JBLU), the largest airline to the Caribbean, today announced its continued expansion in the region with seasonal weekly service from Boston’s Logan International Airport (BOS) to Barbados’ Grantley Adams International Airport (BGI), which will launch November 7.

“Barbados has proven a customer favorite for our New York customers, and we’re happy to offer Boston customers the chance to experience the beauty and culture of Barbados,” said Robin Hayes, President and CEO of JetBlue.

Barbados’ Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy, welcomed the service as a critical part of the strategy to diversify the island’s tourism source markets.

“Boston is one of the most affluent states on the eastern seaboard of the United States and it presents an opportunity to diversify Barbados’ tourism business beyond the current US gateways.  We look forward to continued strong cooperative marketing efforts with our partners at JetBlue to ensure the success of this new service”.

As at April 2015, Barbados’ arrivals out of the USA were up by 27.4 per cent.

The weekly Boston-Barbados flight will complement JetBlue’s existing daily service from New York JFK to BGI, which was launched in 2009. The flight sale is scheduled to commence on May 1, subject to receipt of government operating authority, with an introductory fare of only US $149 one way for travel from November 7, 2015 until April 30, 2016. JetBlue Getaways will offer customers heading to Barbados the opportunity to bundle flights and hotels, as well as with their car rentals and other amenities and activities. Four-day, three-night packages will start at US $345 per person at Courtyard by Marriott.

JetBlue’s flights to Barbados will be operated on a 150-seat Airbus A320 and will offer the airline’s award-winning service featuring assigned and comfortable seating; free Fly-Fi, the fastest broadband internet in the sky; complimentary and unlimited name-brand snacks and non-alcoholic/soft drinks; free, live DIRECTV® programming and 100+ channels of SiriusXM® radio in every seatback; and the most legroom in coach (based on average fleet-wide seat pitch of U.S. airlines).

The Boston-Barbados flight is the fifth new Caribbean seasonal service launched from Boston in the last year following Liberia, Costa Rica (LIR); Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic (POP); Saint Lucia (UVF); and Port-au-Prince, Haiti (PAP). JetBlue also recently announced it would offer its highly successful Mint experience between JFK to Barbados on Saturdays between November 7, 2015 and April 30, 2016, and daily between December 19, 2015 and January 4, 2016.

JetBlue’s Schedule between Boston and Barbados on Saturdays as of November 5, 2015:

BOS – BGI
7.45  a.m. – 1.39 p.m.

BGI – BOS
2.35 p.m. – 6.59 p.m.

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JetBlue to begin service to Antigua & Barbuda in November

(St. John’s Antigua) – Antigua and Barbuda’s Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy, The Hon. Asot A. Michael, has said that airlift into Antigua and Barbuda from its critical North East corridor of the USA will be augmented by the arrival of JetBlue Airways for the upcoming winter season.

The arrival of JetBlue, he announced, will open up the destination to even more business, increase the competitiveness of the destination within the US travel market and encourage more air travel.

The Tourism Minister made the remarks, at a press conference held last week Friday at the V.C Bird International Airport, attended by Antigua and Barbuda Government Officials, Senior Executives of JetBlue Airways, Antigua and Barbuda Airline Executives and Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Officials.

JetBlue Airways, will begin direct service to Antigua from its base in New York’s JFK International Airport on November 5.

The airline is known for its attractive fares, and value service which has created a strong brand loyalty among a younger demographic in the US.  The JetBlue Airbus A320, which carries 150 seats will be available to travellers to Antigua on, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

The Tourism Minister said, “We are excited to be bringing JetBlue to Antigua and Barbuda following successful negotiations. As a new airline flying into Antigua, JetBlue will make the destination more accessible to visitors searching for affordable and direct same day connections.”

“We are confident in the ability of our team in the US, to stimulate demand for the destination within the north eastern region, from New York to Washington.  This is an opportunity to, increase our tourism arrivals for the 2015/2016 winter season, and grow our tourism business.”

The Tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut is the largest metropolitan area of the US and is home to some 23.6 Million people who comprise a key demographic amongst the US source market.

“We offer customers more options than any other airline to the Caribbean, and the beautiful destination of Antigua will be a great addition to our network for those wanting to discover something new. A gorgeous Caribbean island, Antigua offers beaches, history and romance, along with world-class resorts like Sandals.” said Marty St. George, executive vice president, commercial and planning, JetBlue.

The news of the new JetBlue flight was received with much enthusiasm by hoteliers on island who look forward to the impact that the increased seats will have on occupancy and revenues.

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Courtyard Marriott is coming to Curaçao (and other developments on the island)

Willemstad, Curaçao – April 2015 – The tiny, yet bustling island of Curaçao, located in the Southern Caribbean, shares its latest news and events:

ISLAND NEWS
  • New Direct Service From Toronto This Summer

For the first time ever, Canadians can travel direct to Curaçao from Toronto via Air Canada during the summer season.   Air Canada flies nonstop to Curaçao on Fridays with an 8:00 a.m. departure from Toronto and a 3:15 p.m. return flight from Curaçao.  For more information, visit vacations.aircanada.com/Curacao.

  • Curaçao Unveils New Winery

Located near Hato International Airport, Curaçao recently opened the island’s first-ever winery and vineyard.  Run by the Visscher family, the vineyard has over 2,000 plants on two acres of land, which will eventually be expanded to 25 acres.  The wine will be harvested from the island’s soil and will be available to bottle and sell next year.  In the meantime, visitors can enjoy tastings and special events at the winery, open everyday from 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. with happy hour Fridays at 5:00 p.m.

  • New Shopping Center Opening in May

Sambil Curaçao, slated to open in May 2015 and located between Willemstad and Curaçao International Airport, is an upscale shopping center being built and operated by the Sambil Group.  The new shopping center, designed in a fish-shape, encompasses over 100,000 square feet and will feature 180 establishments, including 156 shops, 8 movie theaters, 4 restaurants, and a food court offering a variety of local and international cuisines. For more information, visit www.sambilmall.com/Curacao.

  • IGLTA Awards Curaçao With ‘Destination Pioneer’ Honor

The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) recently awarded the Curaçao Tourist Board with its prestigious “Destination Pioneer” award for its exceptional efforts in developing the island into an all-welcoming destination for travelers.  Curaçao boasts a substantial number of hotels and attractions with IGLTA memberships, which reflects the island’s “Live and Let Live” philosophy to embrace all travelers.  The awards ceremony took place in Los Angeles at IGLTA’s 32nd Annual Global Convention, where the island was honored alongside influential LGBT advocates. For more information on LGBT travel in Curaçao, visit www.gaycuracao.com .

HOTEL NEWS
  • New Courtyard by Marriott To Open in Curaçao

Marriott International has announced plans to open the first Courtyard by Marriott hotel in Willemstad.   The hotel, set to open in 2017, will feature 177 rooms and will be situated just a few blocks from the existing cruise ship terminal.  The property will be part of a mixed-used development that will include retail space, an entertainment area, three restaurants and a casino. The hotel will feature the brand’s signature business lobby, a coffee shop, an outdoor pool, fitness center and flexible meeting area.

  • Baoase Luxury Resort Debuts New Villa-Style Suites

The island’s five-star upscale property, Baoase Luxury Resort, has unveiled ten new exclusive suites. The new villa-style suites include a private infinity pool and garden with a spectacular view over the Caribbean Sea as well as either direct access to a private beach or the resort’s beach. Constructed of natural stone, these secluded one-level luxury suites offer the perfect amount of privacy with unparalleled luxury offerings. For more information, visit www.baoase.com.

  •  Acoya Hotel Partners With BLVD and Mambo Beach Club

The island’s newest resort, Acoya Hotel Suites and Villas, recently signed an agreement allowing its guests access to Sea Aquarium Beach and use of Mambo Beach Club’s lounge chairs at no additional cost. The Curaçao Beach Boulevard, known as the BLVD, is an expansive strip combining shops, dining, and entertainment along one of the island’s most popular beaches, Sea Aquarium Beach. For more information, visit www.acoyacuracao.com.

  • Hilton Curaçao Undergoes Second Phase of its Renovation

Following refurbishments to its hotel rooms in 2013, Hilton Curaçao recently began the second phase of renovations to its lobby and hotel bar.   The property’s entrance signage and Bligh’s Bar will also be entirely refurbished to reflect a more contemporary look and feel, and are expected to be completed in Spring 2015. Additional renovations will also take place in the third quarter of this year and will include the property’s restaurants and gym facilities.  For more information, visit www.hiltoncuracaoresort.com.

  • Renaissance Curaçao Launches New Dining Experience

Renaissance Curaçao, located in downtown Willemstad, has given its CRU Steakhouse & Wine Bar a makeover, transforming it into Xquisit, a dining experience with a new modern concept. Xquisit will offer a three-course prix fixe menu of appetizers, main dishes, and desserts along with a separate steak and wine menu.  Menus will be changed seasonally, with sample dishes such as Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio with Truffle Oil, Stuffed Pork Loin with Brie cheese, and Ratatouille. For more information, visit www.renaissancecuracao.com.

OPERATOR NEWS
  •  Dive Bus Offering Free PADI Dive Courses

In celebration of its 10-year birthday, the Dive Bus is offering free PADI dive courses, complimentary diving excursions, cake and more throughout 2015! Lead by friendly and experienced PADI dive professionals, the Dive Bus specializes in shore diving at the island’s best dive spots. For more information and details on how to win prizes, visit www.the-dive-bus.com.

EVENTS
  • International Drag Fest

Celebrating its 44th year anniversary, the International Drag Fest will take place April 28- May 2, 2015 at the Curaçao International Raceway in Willemstad. The festival will include ten different automobile classes and five motorcycle classes competing in traditional drag races.  For more information, visit www.curacaodrag.com.

  • International BlueSeas Festival

Following the success of the renowned Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival, the island will host its inaugural Curaçao International BlueSeas Festival this May 7 – 9, 2015. The festival will be a celebration of traditional and gentrified jazz music, and will feature a variety of international musicians, including the legendary Original Blues Brothers, Buddy Guy, and emerging artists such as Kat Riggins, The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band and Moreland & Arbuckle. For more information, visit www.curacaoblueseasfestival.com.

  • Viva La Musica Latina (Latin Music Festival)

Taking place May 29 – 30, 2015 in Willemstad, Viva Musica Latina Curaçao is a Latin music festival that will feature some of the biggest names in the industry.  Performers will include Jorge Celedón, Alberto Barros, Olga Tañón, Gilberto Santa Rosa, the Guaco Group Venezuela, among others. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit TicketsCaribbean.com

  • International Tourism Safety & Security Conference

Held at Curaçao’s World Trade Center, the island will host this year’s International Tourism Safety and Security Conference on June 24 – 26, 2015.  The goal of the conference is to enhance awareness of tourism safety and security, and the theme of this year’s conference is “Working Together to Provide a Safer Caribbean Tourism Destination.”  The conference will feature speakers from around the world discussing issues, such as airline securities, tourism police, cruise security, and human trafficking. For more information, visit www.curacao.com/ssc.

  • Curaçao North Sea Jazz Festival

Now in its sixth year, the popular North Sea Jazz Festival is back for another run on   September 3 – 5, 2015 at the World Trade Center near Piscadera Bay in Willemstad.  A wide range of internationally renowned artists were recently announced for this three-day festival, which will include performances by John Legend, Enrique Iglesias, the Pointer Sisters, Lionel Richie, Wyclef Jean, Randy Newman and more.   Another major headliner will be announced in the coming weeks.  For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.curacaonorthseajazz.com/en/. 

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World Happiness Report names Trinidad & Tobago as the happiest in the Caribbean

Port of Spain, Trinidad – April 28, 2015 – The numbers are in and Trinidad & Tobago has been named the “happiest” Caribbean nation yet again.  With its vibrant lifestyle, dynamic culture, booming business center, strong government and, of course, largest Carnival celebration in the Caribbean, it is no surprise that the dual-island nation leads the way in happiness. According to the World Happiness Report from the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) released on April 23, 2015, the destination ranked highest in happiness in the Caribbean and 41st in the world.

Trinidad & Tobago’s flourishing culinary scene and year round festivals, combined with local steel pan and soca music and picturesque beaches, bring out the happiness in both locals and visitors alike.  Whether sampling world-renowned street food on “The Avenue” [Ariapita Avenue], “wining” to the music at cultural and food festivals, getting a taste of adventure in the mountains of Trinidad or unwinding on Pigeon Point beach in Tobago, Trinbagonians have plenty of reasons to smile.  Additionally, with 15 public holidays last year, Trinidad & Tobago is among the top ten countries in the world for the number of public holidays.

The World Happiness Report aims to help country leaders recognize the importance of happiness and well-being for the success of the world and sustainable development.  Researchers examine 11 areas essential to happiness and well-being, including health, education, local government, personal security, income and overall satisfaction with life. Trinidad & Tobago was also the top-ranked Caribbean nation in the previous Happiness Report, which was published in 2013.

For more information on Trinidad & Tobago visit www.goTrinidadandTobago.com  or www.visittobago.gov.tt.

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