CTO News

Archive for December, 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.

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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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