CTO News

Archive for April, 2018

British Virgin Islands Tourism Sector Looks Ahead With Confidence

Seven months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the beautiful British Virgin Islands, the territory’s attractions, accommodations and activities continue to rebound. The tourism industry and team here at the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board have worked extremely hard to revitalize the BVI’s tourism product — the lifeblood of our islands. We are fortunate to have the support of our Government, which remains steadfast in its commitment to BVI tourism. Now more than ever, it is critical that we encourage visitors to come experience the BVI they know and love.

Over the last few months, our tourism season has come alive with vibrant events, property reopenings and new local initiatives, symbolic of a BVI renaissance. And as of April 10, the U.S. Department of State has updated its BVI travel advisory to Level 1 (exercise normal precaution), another indication of the territory’s return to normalcy.

The BVITB is pleased to provide a comprehensive update on accommodations, local businesses and upcoming events around the territory as we emphasize that the destination is indeed open for business.

In terms of landside accommodations, some of the BVI’s premier properties are welcoming guests once again, including Oil Nut Bay on Virgin Gorda, and Cooper Island Beach Club. On the island of Anegada, 10 of 11 hotels are operational, including Anegada Beach Club and Anegada Reef Hotel, among others. There are currently 552 total hotel rooms (about 16%) available for bookings throughout the BVI.

The remainder of our private island resorts are working fast and furious to restore their cherished luxury experiences. Guana Island Resort will reopen in July, as will Scrub Island Resort & Spa. Necker Island will have a partial reopening in the fall, while Rosewood Little Dix Bay and Bitter End Yacht Club — among the hardest hit resorts — are expected to reopen in late 2019.

Of course, the wonderful thing about the BVI’s tourism product is that we offer both land and sea accommodations. After the storms, we immediately identified the yachting sector as the first to rebound. The yacht charters have made a strong recovery, and as it stands now, the territory has 1,860 charter boat berths/cabins available. This includes premier charter companies such as The Moorings, Marine Max, Sunsail and Horizon.

Additionally, a total of 36 cruise ship calls have been made at the Tortola Pier Park since December, another encouraging means to bring visitors to the destination. This includes cruise lines such as Columbia and Silver Seas, while larger ships such as Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line will resume cruising to the BVI in the fall.

Getting to the BVI has never been easier. InterCaribbean Airways has expanded service between San Juan and Tortola, adding another convenient connection option for travelers.

When visitors land on our spectacular shorelines, there are a number of attractions that are open for them to explore at their leisure, like the iconic Baths on Virgin Gorda. Our exotic dive sites are open as well, so guests can enjoy underwater adventure and marine life at the BVI Art Reef and Wreck of the RMS Rhone. BVITB is also working in conjunction with the National Parks Trust to revive our parks (Sage Mountain, Mount Healthy, and others) and reopen them for locals and visitors alike. Local businesses around the islands are determined to provide the level of service and fun that patrons have come to expect. Legendary beach bars like Foxy’s Tamarind Bar and Soggy Dollar Bar have reopened on Jost Van Dyke over the past few months. Additionally, museums such as Sugar Works and the Old Government House will return this fall.

Most recently, the BVI hosted the 47th BVI Spring Regatta in March. Sailors from around the world convened on our shores and celebrated another successful week of competition and island spirit.

We are confident that with the help of our yachting sector and the reopening of land accommodations over the next several months, we will continue sailing towards the full rebuilding of our beloved BVI. Looking ahead, we’re excited to share a great lineup of events and festivals that will attract visitors as we move into the summer months.

  • Foxy’s Wooden Boat Regatta on Jost Van Dyke (April 21-22)
  • Lowell Wheatley Anegada Pursuit Race at Anegada Reef Hotel (April 28)
  • BVI Dinghy Championships at Nanny Cay Hotel and Marina (May 19-21)
  • Second Annual BVI Jazz & Style Festival (May 25-27)
  • Leverick Bay Poker Run (May 27)
  • BVI Summer Sizzle (July 25-30)
  • BVI Emancipation Festival (July 27-August 10)

Finally, with an eye on preservation, our team has just unveiled its Seeds of Love initiative, a project that aims to replant the islands’ indigenous trees and vegetation. Environmental protection is vital to the future of our unspoiled landscapes. Donations can be made through Pledgeling, and the funds will be used for gorgeous trees such as coconut palms, white cedars, and mangroves. The seeds will then be planted by BVI residents, visitors and local organizations. The Tourist Board is also collaborating on voluntourism opportunities for those travelers who want to give back during their visits.

BVITB will launch a new multi-channel ad campaign next month to showcase the breadth of our rebuilding efforts, and highlight the abundant natural beauty that remains at tourists’ fingertips. Plus, a special summer promotion is just around the corner to encourage eager vacation planners to make their return to the BVI.

For real-time updates, visit www.bvitourism.com/bvistrong where you can find the latest information about attractions, restaurants and property reopenings on each island. As our treasured islands continue on the road to full recovery, we must always remember that we are ONE BVI. We are stronger together.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Caribbean Recovery, Destination News

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Bahamas.com Wins ‘Best In Class’ at Interactive Media Awards

Nassau, The Bahamas: The official website of The Islands Of The Bahamas has been a hit with visitors, an achievement that has landed the destination the highest honor of the Interactive Media Awards.

Bahamas.com, which is the official Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation (BMOTA) site, has won the ‘Best In Class’ award in the category of Travel and Tourism.

The website represents the very best in planning and execution.

Officials at the BMOTA have been hard at work and now rely heavily on analytics to drive smart, data-driven decision making.

To assist with data collection, the Ministry has established a dynamic digital dashboard to see real time statistics like traffic to Bahamas.com and engagement on all social channels.

The website’s dashboard also measures website visitors’ clicks on deals to book as well as converting those clicks to hot leads for hotel properties.

Recently, officials added a commission-free, hotel book direct engine on Bahamas.com, powered by a company called JackRabbit.

For the period of December 1, 2017 to February 28, 2018, the “book now” links from individual hotels listed on Bahamas.com generated 5,040 leads directly to hotel partners.

“This shows that we are moving in the right direction,” said Director General of Tourism Joy Jibrilu.

“The Islands Of The Bahamas has benefited greatly from our online presence and the world is certainly taking notice. We are going to continue utilizing the array of digital platforms to show the world what we have to offer and why it is better in The Bahamas.”

Bahamas.com has seen significant increases in unique visitors and page views, according to officials.

Plans are also on the drawing board to continue to improve Bahamas.com by enhancing the site’s capability for visitors to search for places to stay in The Bahamas.

The website will also expand individual property listings with larger imagery, videos, a map, relevant activities and Trip Advisor reviews.

Additionally, Bahamas.com won recognition by a very large and accredited organization within the web development industry called ‘The Webby Awards’.

The organization boasted about The Islands of The Bahamas saying,

“Congratulations once again to you and your team on EDUCO’s success as an Honoree in the 22nd Annual Webby Awards. Out of over 13,000 entries received from 70 countries and all 50 United States, your work was ranked among the top 18 percent by the academy. That’s an incredible achievement!”

The Webbys is presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS)—a 2000+ member judging body. The Academy is comprised of Executive Members—leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities—and Associate Members who are former Webby Winners, Nominees and other Internet professionals.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Destination News

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Five new members join the CTO UK Chapter Board of Directors

The Caribbean Tourism Organisation announced the appointment of four new members to its UK Chapter Board of Directors, as well as the full slate of board members for 2018. Joining the Board of Directors are Jenny Peart, Lindsay Ingram, Cherrie Osborne, Jane Hansom, whilst Marc James was re-elected for another term.

All five of our elected Board members embody the spirit of the Caribbean and bring talent, expertise and energy to the table. We are very fortunate to have them by our side as we continue to strengthen the CTO’s focus on developing new and scalable innovative ideas to drive brand awareness of the Caribbean region. We welcome the addition of these outstanding new board members”, said Colin Pegler, Managing Director, Resort Marketing International and Chair of the CTO UK Chapter Board

Jane Hansom, one of the CTO’s newest board members, is the Director of Sponge Marketing on behalf of Nevis Tourism Authority. Hansom is an expert in driving tourism to destinations via sports and adventure travel and comes with marketing expertise and knowledge of the Caribbean to enhance both the CTO and the Caribbean region as a whole.

A seasoned industry veteran, Lindsay Ingram is the Managing Director of Newmont Travel. His extensive first-hand experience of the entire Caribbean region as a historically VFR specialist operator will bring a novel perspective into the further promoting the Caribbean region.

Marc James, Partnership Manager for British Airways will continue to utilise his extensive skills set to be an asset to the region as the airline continues to grow capacity. Marc’s 18 + years working with airlines, tourist boards and hotel partners in the Caribbean will be strategically important as the UK chapter continues to evolve and remain sustainable in the long term.

Jenny Peart, Caribbean Product Manager of Kenwood Travel, has been an integral part of the team at Kenwood Travel. Her reputation in the Caribbean is second to none and she has been at the forefront of the resurgence in Caribbean business. Her expertise and commercial acumen will be pivotal in helping the UK Chapter to continue to grow.

Lastly, strategic leader and marketer Cherrie Osborne, Director of Marketing for Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority brings over 12 years of well-rounded tourist board experience to contribute to building brand Caribbean. Osborne is credited with spearheading prominent PR projects, such as the filming of the X-Factor episodes in Antigua, and her prowess in engaging with tourism partners.

The full slate of board members for 2018 is listed below.

The CTO also recently appointed Jamie-Lee Abtar as Business Development Manager, UK Chapter. Abtar has over a decades experience in the travel and tourism industry supporting travel brands to grow, develop and increase revenue, and was also named as one of the TTG’s 30 under 30 Future Travel Leaders.

Carol Hay, CTO’s Director of Marketing UK & Europe stated, the CTO UK Chapter is a dynamic body and we felt that Jamie-Lee’s knowledge of the Caribbean, networking and digital skills will be a great asset.

 

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Corporate News

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CTO Signs Agreement With BITT to Promote Use of Digital Currency in Regional Tourism

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (5 April, 2018) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the region’s tourism development agency, has entered into an agreement with blockchain technology company, Bitt Inc., aimed at facilitating the implementation of more efficient payment processes for tourism-related products and services.

The two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) this morning at the CTO’s headquarters in Barbados, under which Bitt’s digital wallet and merchant applications will be promoted to help foster broader economic participation in community-based tourism and related sectors.

“The Caribbean aims to fully examine the advantages offered by new financial technology. In particular, blockchain financial services have the potential to advance the objectives of specific programmes and activities within the tourism sector, and the CTO has a responsibility on behalf of our members to fully explore those possibilities. Our memorandum of understanding with Bitt underscores the importance of collaborating with this forward-thinking, cutting edge, Caribbean company with whom we have a shared commitment to the economic success of our region,” Hugh Riley, the CTO’s secretary general, said.

Both organisations anticipate that by leveraging digital currency, the Caribbean region could become a more integrated economy in terms of the ease of doing business for visitors who move through multiple regional destinations.

CTO secretary general Hugh Riley (left) and Bitt CEO Rawdon Adams (right) sign MOU

“Expanding Bitt’s footprint throughout the region is very important to us because we know how transformational our technology can be. That’s particularly the case for the region’s informal sector, for the unbanked and by extension for the economy. Tourism is the largest single contributor to the Caribbean economy and is absolutely critical to every single Caribbean nation’s well-being and development. Thus we see this as a very natural and necessary association,” Rawdon Adams, Bitt’s chief executive officer, said.

The arrangement is for an initial three-year period, but it can be extended by mutual agreement.

The Barbados-based Bitt Inc. is a financial technology company that utilises distributed ledger technology to offer efficient, cost-effective digital payment products and services through its Bitt Suite.

 

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Corporate News

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