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Archive for September, 2018

Immersive Technology-driven Experience Slated for SOTIC

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (11 Sept. 2018) – The opening day of the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) centres on the “Recreate” theme with discussions focused on innovation, business development and building better. The conversation will transcend physical infrastructure to examine an entire immersive experience that is driven by technology among other factors.

“The Caribbean must examine and utilize new technologies designed to upgrade and enhance the region’s tourism product in order to be competitive on a global scale,” said Sylma Brown, the head of the CTO’s New York office, which oversees the conference. “The first day of the State of the Tourism Industry Conference will challenge previous notions with innovative ideas for redesigning business operations and infrastructure to optimize the guest experience within each destination, resort, guesthouse, attraction and cultural event,” she added.

Scheduled for 2-5 Oct. 2018 at Atlantis, Paradise Island in The Bahamas, general SOTIC sessions start on 3 Oct. and will be anchored by Puerto Rico-born Santana Rodriguez, television producer and former news personality at Crown City News in Pasadena who also served as entertainment host and morning news reporter at KLEO Television in Hollywood, California.

The first general session, “Building Better,” aims to guide the development of regional infrastructure and product evolution while influencing the enhancement of the Caribbean’s unmistakably infectious brand. There will be a sharp focus on the critical priority areas that are necessary to build better, including financing, design and execution, and best practices that take into consideration the practical realities of physical infrastructure.

Panellists include Hugh Riley, the CTO’s secretary general; Tom Hook, the North American director of planning and landscape at B+H Architects; General Russel Honore, a retired U.S. military officer who led the department of defense response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana; and Jena Tesse Fox, a writer and editor for Questex Media’s Hotel Management and Hotel Design magazines.

Moderated by Dr. Deborah Hickling-Gordon, Principal Consultant, Ink and Vision, Ltd., the second general session, “Commoditization Without Exploitation,” will examine the critical factors which catalyze the misuse and overuse of the Caribbean’s intrinsic resources for tourist consumption, as well as explore feasible opportunities to maximize the Caribbean’s marine, cultural and heritage treasures to enhance the tourism product without exploiting the region’s inherent wealth. The panel will feature Gregory Bethel, senior economist at the department of marine resources of The Bahamas; Dr. Marcia Burrowes, lecturer in cultural studies at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill campus; and Senator Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson, president of the Caribbean Congress of Labour.

A general session on “Modernizing the Experience: Using Technology to Enhance the Visitor Experience” will analyze how rapidly developing technology is forcing every sector of the industry to shift their approach and define their own experience utilizing mobile technologies and virtual reality to set themselves apart. From airports becoming more memorable and enjoyable with facilities to shop without checkout systems to hotels adopting customer-centric models, this session will feature some of the best examples of how governments and brands are using technology to move beyond the ordinary.

Travel industry veteran Noreen Henry, who has over 25 years leveraging innovative technologies and who served as chief executive officer of WayBlazer, an artificial intelligence travel technology start-up, is a speaker on the panel. She will be joined by Kristie Powell, a former senior technical advisor at Google and the co-founder and chief executive Founder, Coral, a software development startup transforming the B2B market in the Caribbean; and Ed Limon, a Toronto-based filmmaker, producer and virtual reality expert.

Caribbean tourism practitioners, policymakers, travel professionals and strategic partners from the public and private sectors throughout the region and internationally participate each year in SOTIC, organized this year by the CTO in collaboration with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. The conference will be preceded by business meetings on 1 – 2 Oct.

Sponsorship opportunities and details are available from CTO at 212-635-9530 or via http://sotic.onecaribbean.org/sponsor.

For further details on the conference, including how to register, please visit http://sotic.onecaribbean.org/.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, SOTIC

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British Virgin Islands Continue to Achieve Recovery Milestones

TORTOLA, BVI — When Hurricane Irma tore through the Caribbean last September, it made a particularly harsh impact on the spectacular shores that 30,000 of my fellow BVIslanders and I call home.

But one year later, I am pleased to say that the Herculean efforts put forth by the local community, international volunteers and the BVI government have paid off. The beaches have been cleaned up, roads cleared, and visitors are flocking into the territory once again.

As the largest sector of the economy, restoring the BVI’s tourism product was a huge priority during the immediate aftermath of the storm. There is still work to be done, but we at the BVI Tourist Board are proud to recognize the progress made over the past year. The BVI Reborn video gives a glimpse into the progress of our recovery.

The charter yacht and sailing industry was the first to rebound, with some operators accepting guests as soon as November 2017 to jumpstart the winter season. Cruise calls resumed at Tortola Pier Park the following month, bringing in thousands more visitors. Disney Cruise Line made its return just days ago to much fanfare, and Norwegian Cruise Line will follow in Fall 2018. We are expecting a remarkable 2018/2019 cruise season with projections of over 200 calls and 400,000 passengers at Tortola Pier Park and Road Harbour alone.  Additionally, we expect over 50 calls by the smaller boutique ships, to other islands including; Anegada, Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda, demonstrating the diversity of our destination to accommodate cruise visitors.

To date, many of the BVI’s premier resorts have come back online as well. This includes: Scrub Island Resort & Spa, Cooper Island Beach Club, Guana Island Resort, Oil Nut Bay, Anegada Beach Club, and more. Visitors will enjoy enhanced offerings at several of these properties, including an expanded private beach at Scrub Island, and brand-new glamping accommodations at Anegada Beach Club. In fact, Anegada has emerged as a must-visit island thanks to its unique attractions like world-class kitesurfing, amazing conch shell mounds and iconic bright pink flamingos. The only coral island in the group, Anegada boasts the Caribbean’s third largest barrier reef, the Horseshoe Reef.

Oil Nut Bay has significantly upgraded its facilities, and this December, will be offering stunning new one-bedroom suites with nightly availability. A marina village with 93 slips that can accommodate yachts up to 40 meters, will also be opened in December.  The resort’s helipad which facilitates air arrivals along with the new facilities, will now give guests the freedom to explore neighboring islands, embarking by boat or helicopter, with ease.

As of August 15, there are 769 rooms on land and 2,930 berths available throughout the Territory. By winter season, that number will rise to over 1,000 rooms and 3,200 berths. Necker Island is scheduled to reopen on October 1st, with several of our luxury properties to follow in late 2019 including Bitter End Yacht Club and Rosewood Little Dix Bay.

Traveling to the BVI has never been easier. We have regained full capacity in terms of airlift and ferry service, with some airlines even expanding service between San Juan and Tortola.

Over the past several months, we have hosted major events like the annual BVI Spring Regatta and the Emancipation Festival, a celebration that highlighted our culture and resilience. This November, BVI Food Fete will return with a fantastic lineup of culinary events.

As we reflect on the lessons learned from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the BVI recognizes the need to plan for the future. The government successfully restored 100% of power across all of our islands by May 2018, while continuing efforts to strengthen our infrastructure in anticipation of future storms. Click here for information on the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Act.

There is also a new Disaster Alert App launched by the BVI Department of Disaster Management to improve disaster alert notifications for our residents and guests.

For those looking to offer their support to the BVI, the most vital way to help — as always — is by booking a trip and patronizing our local hotels and businesses. The Tourist Board will also continue running the Seeds of Love program to replant the islands’ indigenous trees and vegetation in Tortola, Virgin Gorda and other islands. Donations can be made here.

General donations for the territory are still welcome through the BVI Recovery Fund.

The BVI is grateful to all of the volunteers and “voluntourists” who have devoted time and energy to our recovery. We thank everyone for their passionate support, as the British Virgin Islands continue to progress, and we look forward to providing ongoing updates on the status of our cherished islands.

On September 6, the BVI Government will hold a “Service of Thanksgiving, Reflection and Restoration” on Tortola, while an interdenominational prayer service will be held on Virgin Gorda, recognizing our “Journey to Healing.”  #BVILove

About the British Virgin Islands

Known as a treasured destination rich in undiscovered experiences, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) is an alluring archipelago comprising 60 islands and cays located 80 kilometers (60 miles) east of Puerto Rico, in the northwestern region of the Caribbean Sea. The main islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke have attracted travelers globally with their cultural Caribbean authenticity. Located in Tortola, Road Town is the BVI’s capital.

Ranked #1 Best Place to Visit in the Caribbean by U.S. News for two consecutive years in 2017 and 2018, the BVI is where nature’s best secrets are kept with an abundance of pristine beaches, azure seas, towering sage mountains and burnt-orange sunsets. It’s no wonder the BVI’s Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke were featured on the “Top Islands in the Caribbean, Bermuda and the Bahamas” list in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards 2017 and 2018.

Despite its status as a United Kingdom territory, the BVI uses the U.S. dollar as its official currency.

The BVI Tourist Board invites everyone to experience the tropical mystique of the country’s unparalleled and enriching offerings. For more information, visit www.bvitourism.com.

Posted in: 2018 News, Caribbean Recovery, Destination News

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