CTO News

Archive for 2017

New Year’s Message from CTO Secretary General, Hugh Riley

Bridgetown, Barbados (28 Dec 2017) – This has been a challenging year for Caribbean tourism. While the first half of the year saw exciting growth in both tourism infrastructure and tourist arrivals over the previous year, in September we were hit hard by a series of unusual hurricanes that not only destroyed property, but also took the lives of many of our citizens. We must never forget the souls we lost along the way.

Physically, we will recover. Our Caribbean people are a resilient population. We will put the bricks and mortar back together and the hotels and vegetation will rise again and shine in the brilliant sunlight.

We take this time, a season of celebration and joy and the promise of a new beginning, to both reflect on the preceding year and look forward to tomorrow. And we will take the time to give thanks.

Travellers coming to the countries that were impacted by the storms will now see various stages of the rebuild/recover effort. Some are already fully up to speed and ready for the winter; others, only partially so. Our affected islands respect the safety and security of guests and staff and are therefore being frank and open about their state of readiness.

As tourism is the main economic driver for most of the Caribbean, we place enormous emphasis on delivering value and a superb visitor experience. In the hurricane-affected islands guests in 2018 and beyond will expect to see a product that is rebuilt stronger, better and even more attractive than before. That’s the plan, however long it takes to deliver.

We are thankful that the vast majority of the Caribbean never got touched by the hurricanes, so those islands have continued to welcome visitors every day. For them it’s business as usual. We are grateful to the travel professionals, the many visitors and our citizens themselves who continue to share images of the Caribbean today. Those pictures tell a thousand realities.

We want to use this time to thank our member countries that were quick to come to the aid of others not so fortunate. We want to thank our partners, the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, the airlines, cruise lines and the hotels across the region that have worked and are still working to bring the Caribbean back to normal operations. We want to thank our marketing and sales partners, the tour operators, wholesalers and travel agents from around the world who have stood by the region and continue to promote and sell our destinations. And we want to thank the media that have, for the most part, painted a proper picture of our region that is clearly open for business. Through it all, we are also eternally grateful to our visitors and to the Caribbean Diaspora who stand shoulder to shoulder with our region in times of need.

Even as we prepare to greet a New Year let us take a moment to look back on a few of the successes of 2017.

Recently we embarked on a strategy to substantially enhance the Caribbean’s engagement in Canada, to develop business in non-traditional areas and work closely with our members’ representatives for maximum impact. New travel agent training and certification, increased use of targeted social media, enhanced deployment of the CTO’s data analysis tools, and more focused engagement with the Caribbean Diaspora were all components of the 2017 strategy for Canada. The Canadian market was a strong performer for most of 2017, with arrivals up by 6.4 percent. We can now look forward to more expansion of that market in 2018.

We also continued to focus on our two primary markets, the United States and Europe, with the UK, in particular, taking a central role. These markets were more robust in 2017 and we trust this will continue in 2018.

We realized too, that intra-Caribbean tourism, which has also been on the rise, would need our continuous attention, especially under the current circumstances where the task of educating the travelling public and removing the barriers to intra-Caribbean travel will continue to be a challenge.

At the start of the year we declared 2017 the Year of Adventure in the Caribbean and we capitalized on this in multiple promotions with member countries and industry partners. The Caribbean Year of Adventure linked directly with the United Nations Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and allowed us to pair adventure with sustainability.

The year culminated with the World Tourism Organization holding its Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth, in Jamaica, followed by the CTO’s partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank to host the Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum in St. Kitts.

For the New Year the CTO has declared 2018 The Year of Rejuvenation in the Caribbean. With wellness and rejuvenation being important aspects of the Caribbean tourism product, we are encouraging our member countries and private sector partners to plan and organise events and activities around that theme.

For travellers who focus on renewing body and spirit, the options are virtually endless; from beachfront workouts and yoga retreats, to wellness resorts and spa treatments, the notion of being rejuvenated in the Caribbean is one more reason to let us pamper you in 2018.
The 2018 Caribbean Year of Rejuvenation will be promoted through social media and traditional media channels and will create opportunities for locals, travellers and holiday/vacation planners to share their ideas on how to capture the Caribbean’s huge capacity for wellness and rejuvenation. It will be a time of rebirth for us and for those who come to share the joy of a Caribbean vacation experience.

We look forward to 2018 with optimism and excitement.

On behalf of our CTO Chairman, The Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar, Bahamas Minister of Tourism, the CTO Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism, the Board of Directors, Members and Staff of the CTO, I thank you for your continued support of our region, and I wish you and yours a safe, peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Corporate News

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Representatives of Hurricane-Battered Countries Share Invaluable First-Hand Information

From left to right: Angela Burnett, Environmental Officer (Climate Change), Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, Government of the Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands; Roland Royer, Chief Technical Officer, Ministry of Tourism, Dominica; Gina Brooks, Tourism Planner, Ministry of Finance, Economic Development, Investment, Commerce &Tourism, Anguilla; Vashti Ramsey-Casimir, Senior Tourism Officer, Sustainable Tourism,  Ministry of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy, Antigua; Rolando Brison, Director of Tourism, St. Maarten Tourist Bureau; Brian Been, Senior Product Development Officer, Turks and Caicos Tourist Board

BASSETERRE, St Kitts (15 December 2017) Delegates attending the Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum (CSSTF) held this week heard some dramatic stories that demonstrated the resolve and resilience of the territories worst affected by the hurricanes Irma and Maria in September, during the Tourism Recovery roundtable at the Forum.

The discussion focused on four areas: destination access, supply capacity, marketing and public relations, and how destinations can get television coverage. It was one of the highlights of day two of the three-day conference.

The panel featured representatives from Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, St. Maarten and Turks and Caicos Islands.  It was hosted by the Forum’s keynote speaker, Gregory McKenzie and his twin brother, Michael, both of whom are BBC presenters and producers.

The countries’ representatives shared with the audience the national and international efforts following the storms, including how the countries worked closely with agencies on the ground to restore ports and tourist sites, as well as how partners in markets across the region and around the world assisted with raising funds and awareness of their situation. They also gave detailed updates on their room stock and general timelines for the re-opening of hotels.

The panellists were also able to speak about the channels being used to let others know that the countries are open for business and the ways in which they seek to manage visitor expectations.

The session’s hosts gave suggestions on approaches that could be adopted to improve the chances of media coverage on the various destinations, advising that the officials would first need to consider how to attract the particular audience’s attention to the story.

The McKenzie brothers recommended, as well, that the stories must be about people, and to build on those stories by creatively weaving in information about the territory, what it has to offer and how it aims to achieve sustainability.

In a true Caribbean fashion, the participants also used the Forum as a storytelling opportunity, sharing first-hand accounts of the devastation and recovery efforts that might not have fallen within the discussion areas. They also committed to keep providing the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) with regular updates to be shared with the wider public.

The roundtable was the latest effort by theCTO to provide avenues for impacted countries to disseminate detailed, first-hand accounts of their status, including the efforts to rebuild and reopen their countries.

In addition to being the hub for reliable information for both media and the general public before and after the storms, the CTO also facilitated the sharing of information on what was needed to recover and rebuild stronger by organising a special session at the State of the Tourism Industry Conference in Grenada last October.

A number of key entities and partners, including the Caribbean Development Bank, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, airlines, cruise lines, and telecommunications companies, shared invaluable details at that session.

“The CTO was both proactive and reactive in providing regular updates and granting interviews to virtually every major media outlet in our key markets during and after the hurricanes on a daily basis using information provided by official government sources from the destinations that were both adversely impacted as well as those that were spared any damage from the storms,” according to Hugh Riley, the secretary general.

“Our use of social media has been prolific. In addition, we worked closely with the private sector through our partner, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, to gather information from the hotels in order to properly inform all media which hotels were open and which facilities were damaged. In this way, a daily report was provided to the media with real-time information on the hotels and the destinations following the hurricanes.

“The roundtable at the Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum was one more such opportunity provided by the CTO as we continue to seek avenues to help all our member countries tell their stories. Of the six destinations on stage, three had been visited by us immediately after the hurricanes, so the details we were able to provide in those critical early stages were also first-hand accounts,” Mr. Riley explained.

The CSSTF, which was organised jointly with the St. Kitts ministry of tourism, was the region’s bespoke event in observance of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, themed, “Good for Use, Better for All”.

Read coverage of the Climate Smart Forum:

https://paxnews.com/news/other/ctos-climate-smart-sustainable-tourism-forum-addresses-link-between-consumers-and-climate-change

https://paxnews.com/news/other/special-report-roundup-caribbean-recovery-efforts

https://paxnews.com/news/tourism-board/cto-resilient-caribbean-key-fighting-climate-change

Posted in: 2017 News, Climate Smart Forum

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CTO S.G. Urges Support of Tourism for Caribbean Recovery at UNWTO Confab on Jobs, Growth

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (18 Dec, 2017) – Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the region’s tourism development agency, urged building upon the resilience of tourism and supporting Caribbean tourism to prepare, manage and recover from crises, to more than 1,500 participants at the Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism, held recently in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Mr. Riley called for exploring potential strategies for the tourism sector to plan for future preparation, management and recovery, specifically after the category five hurricanes that impacted a handful of member counties. He advised participants of the scope, size and resilience of the tourism sector and of the CTO, and highlighted CTO’s focus on sustainability and the depth and breadth of the relationships CTO has created, as well as the resources the organization makes available for CTO member countries.

The secretary general also urged establishing energy policies and observing protocols that improve the region’s climate resilience, effective disaster risk management and reduction, enforcing and maintaining proper building codes.

“It was truly an honour to present at this conference where the goal was centered on a new, collaborative framework for tourism, moving towards the 2030 agenda for sustainable development,” he said.

Addressing the topic of resilience, Mr. Riley shared the six areas of focus that the CTO considers essential to building support for Caribbean tourism: sustainable development, resource mobilization, brand leadership, research and market development, human capital development and advocacy.

“Resource mobilization should utilize available resources to sustain, develop, improve and rebuild,” he told the audience. “Rapid recovery of tourism is needed for debt reduction, employment and poverty alleviation, and to most especially to generate foreign exchange.”

Brand leadership should reinforce the value and attributes of the Caribbean brand, Mr. Riley noted. “We need to educate the public and the travel industry on the geography of the Caribbean,” he said, adding: “Every one per cent decline in arrivals could mean a significant loss of revenue.”

Regarding human capital development, the secretary general wants to train, re-train, certify and equip. But he was quick to add: “Being good hosts is not just the responsibility of a select few. As long as the region continues to boast that its people are its most sought after tourism asset, every citizen has a role.”

In closing, Mr. Riley urged the region to enlist champions among celebrities as well as public and private sector leaders. “Effective advocacy speaks powerfully to the issues that facilitate the development of travel and tourism globally,” he added.

In addition to his presentation, Mr. Riley moderated the “Caribbean Tourism within the Context of the Americas” session.

Organised by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Government of Jamaica, the World Bank Group and the Inter-American Development Bank, the global conference brought together world leaders from governments, the tourism industry, donors, and international development and finance organizations, to design and coordinate an international road map and foster collaborative relationships for inclusive economic and social development of tourism.

An official event of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017, the event gathered more than 1,500 participants and over 150 speakers to help identify successful models and initiatives of public-private partnerships that will contribute to sustainable tourism development globally. In order to achieve results, the conference yielded practical plans to guide future development initiatives including specific development protocols and opportunities related to the achievement of global partnerships for sustainable development.

For more information about the UNWTO Global Conference on Building Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism for Development, visit http://know.unwto.org/event/unwto-global-conference-building-partnerships-sustainable-tourism-development.

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UBERSOCA Cruise Patrons Win Luxury Caribbean Vacations at CTO Destination Showcase OnBoard

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) partnered with Ubersoca Cruise (USC), the largest Caribbean soca music and carnival festival at sea, which sailed from Miami to Cozumel, Mexico, November 16 – 20, 2017. CTO hosted a Destination Showcase onboard Ubersoca Cruise 2017, which included a presentation on Caribbean destinations and ongoing CTO initiatives, highlighting the CTO Hurricane Relief Fund and the CTO Scholarship Foundation; initiatives which generate funding to provide financial assistance to support member countries post disaster, and nationals to pursue studies in tourism, hospitality and related fields.

A highlight of the onboard activity was the exciting ‘I Am Caribbean’ Trivia competition which featured questions on the culture, geography and history of the region. A packed auditorium of over 200 patrons participated in the event vying for a chance to win one of the luxury Caribbean vacations on offer.

The CTO is pleased to announce the winners of the Trivia Competition as follows:

Name                          Nationality                 Prize

Valery Lionel        British Virgin Islands        Valentines Residences Resort and Marina, The Bahamas

Jawaan Riley          British Virgin Islands       Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, The Bahamas

Delora Samuel       Dominica                          Kittitian Hill, St. Kitts

Meleke Turnbull    US Virgin Islands                San Ignacio Resort Hotel, Belize

Jason Seignoret      Dominica                            Le Cap Est Lagoon Resort and Spa, Martinique

Kamona Ayres        Trinidad and Tobago        True Blue Bay Boutique Resort, Grenada

The CTO was pleased to partner with Clarke’s Court Rum of Grenada Distillers Limited, Grenada, producers of award-winning rums and spirits, who provided free product samples and rum tastings during the event. Clarke’s Court Rum Distillery in operation since 1937, is the island’s best-known and largest distillery and is an iconic historical site, offering rum making and factory tours and tastings.

Special thanks are extended to all participating resort properties for providing complimentary 3 nights’ accommodation for two, for the trivia competition winners. Special thanks are also owned to our tourism partners in the respective destinations: The Ministries of Tourism, National Tourist Boards and Hotel and Tourism Associations of Belize, The Bahamas, Martinique, Grenada and St Kitts for assisting us in facilitating outreach to the respective resort properties in their destinations.

Ubersoca cruise is the first and only full cruise ship charter dedicated exclusively to Caribbean Soca music and culture, which brings together Caribbean nationals with members of the Diaspora and friends of the region from across the globe. In addition to multiple live concerts and themed events, Ubersoca cruise offers a myriad of other exciting activities onboard, which make it an ‘experience beyond the music’. To learn more about Ubersoca Cruise and partner for the 2018 sailing, please email [email protected] or visit www.ubersocacruise.com.

Feel free to book your next Caribbean adventure with our partnered hotels:

Valentines Residences Resort and Marina, The Bahamas – https://www.valentinesresort.com/

Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, The Bahamas – https://bahamar.grand.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html

Kittitian Hill, St Kitts – http://www.kittitianhill.com/

San Ignacio Resort Hotel, Belize – https://www.sanignaciobelize.com/

True Blue Bay Boutique Resort, Grenada – https://truebluebay.com/

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BBC Presenter Encourages Broadcasters To Help People Understand Climate Change

Basseterre, St Kitts, 13 December, 2017 – The keynote speaker at the Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum (CSSTF) being held in St. Kitts and Nevis, encouraged participants to think about people and how their decisions as potential and actual travellers were influenced by media reports. Gregory McKenzie, television presenter and reporter with the BBC, was the opening speaker for the CSSTF on Wednesday, December 12, which is being held at the Ocean Terrace Inn.

He explained that viewers may not want to know about climate change because they might not find it interesting or easy to understand.

“Our role as broadcasters is to…help people understand that it’s real, it’s happening,” he said. “…It’s about how we can tap into that and show people around the world on our shows that…it’s an issue. People’s lives are a at risk and many have died.”

However, he noted that while media practitioners should aim to educate their audiences about climate change, they also needed to accurately describe climate change-related events and the areas in which they occurred. For example, the coverage on the destruction in the region caused by the passage of two major hurricanes recently might have led some persons to believe that the entire region suffered severe damage.

“The global picture is [that] the Caribbean [is] one, and people forget there’s different islands,” the broadcast journalist said. “So, a part of my role is to show people the Caribbean is open for business.”

Having spent more than 15 years working for the BBC, Gregory McKenzie said he considered his role with the entity and thought about how he could encourage editors there to think about climate change in a different way. For the past four years, McKenzie has been directing, producing and reporting content for the BBC’s flagship Travel Show which is broadcast to more than 300 million viewers a week.  In doing so he has travelled to more than 30 destinations across the world.

Where the tourism industry was concerned, McKenzie explained that as more territories developed their tourism industry, it would produce significant impacts on their natural resources, consumption patterns, pollution and social systems. Because of this, he said that sustainable and responsible planning and management was imperative for the industry to survive.

“Now we already know that global tourism is reaching unprecedented levels. The demand is huge, and, for the first time in our history, the number of tourists crossing international borders in a single year has reached over the one billion mark, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation;” he said.

“The role of the consumer in all of this really shouldn’t be overlooked.”

Consumers, he added, needed to be engaged and stakeholders needed to find ways to prompt them to think in a sustainable way.

“When you’re on holiday, probably the last thing a tourist is thinking about [is] ‘where do I put the plastic?’ or ‘what do I do with that?’, but we can change that in terms of the mindset of tourists and show them different initiatives,” he explained.

“A balance has to be found between limits and usage so that [we] continuously change monitoring and planning [to] ensure that tourism can be managed, and this requires long term thinking and realizing that change is often gradual and often irreversible for economic, social and environmental aspects. Sustaining development must include the interests of all stakeholders, including indigenous people, local communities, visitors, industries and of course more importantly, government.”

The 12-13 December forum, jointly organised by the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the St. Kitts and Nevis Ministry of Tourism, is the region’s bespoke event in observance of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.  The conference theme is “Good for Use, Better for All”.

 

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Climate Change, Climate Smart Forum, Corporate News

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St. Kitts is a Destination on the Move

Basseterre, St. Kitts (November 21, 2017) – St. Kitts had a record-setting day this past Friday, November 17, with the Grand Opening of the new Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour, the Caribbean’s first Park Hyatt featuring the first Miraval Life in Balance Spa in the Caribbean, while also welcoming a record-setting total of seven cruise ships in one day.

“This is truly an historical day for the island and a testament to our growing tourism industry,” said Minister of Tourism, International Trade, Industry and Commerce the Hon. Mr. Lindsay F.P. Grant. “Never in one day have we had a Grand Opening of this significance marking a regional debut of one of the world’s leading luxury hotel brands while also hosting this many cruise ships at a time. St. Kitts is clearly a destination on the move.”

The official Grand Opening of the Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour took place Friday morning, following the property’s soft opening on November 1. Spanning the secluded beach of Banana Bay at the foot of the island’s lush rolling hills, the 126-room resort introduces the Park Hyatt experience to the Caribbean. It is home to three signature restaurants, two pools, a destination resort spa and wellness sanctuary, and indoor and outdoor event spaces.

Setting another record for the cruise sector, St. Kitts welcomed a total of seven vessels on Friday, as follows: Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas; the Thomson Celebration, Windstar Cruises’ Wind Surf; the Crystal Esprit; the Celebrity Summit; the Sabourn Odyssey; and the TUI Discovery. Cruise ship passengers were able to enjoy all of the island’s many attractions and activities, from shopping in the many retail outlets in Port Zante and Basseterre to going ziplining or hiking, or simply “liming” (a local term for simply hanging out and relaxing) on one of St. Kitts’ sandy beaches.

For more information about Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour or to make reservations, visit https://stkitts.park.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html, or visit www.ChristopheHarbour.com for more information about Christophe Harbour.

About St. Kitts:

Intoxicating natural beauty, sunny skies, warm waters, and sandy beaches combine to make St. Kitts one of the most seductive spots in the Caribbean. Located in the northern Leeward Islands, it offers a diverse tourism product developed from the destination’s natural beauty, cultural heritage and rich history.  The island’s stunning variety of tourism attractions include hiking or ziplining through the tropical rainforest, riding the scenic railway that connects the island’s former sugar plantations, visiting the Caribelle Batik factory, and touring Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the more traditional vacation pastimes available are water sports, golf, shopping, tennis, dining, gaming at St. Kitts’ exclusive casino or simply relaxing on the beach.

For more information about St. Kitts, visit www.stkittstourism.kn.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Destination News

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