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Archive for August, 2019

CTO Honours Eight Tourism Entities with Sustainable Tourism Awards at #STC2019

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (30 Aug. 2019) -The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has recognised eight tourism entities from CTO-member countries with its top awards for embracing sustainable tourism principles. The awards were presented on 29 Aug. during CTO’s Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Following a rigorous judging process by an esteemed panel of judges, across various tourism development and related disciplines, the winners for the eight awards were selected out of 38 entries and are as follows:

  • Excellence in Sustainable Tourism Award recognises a product or initiative that contributes to a better quality of life in the destination and provides a unique visitor experience. Winner: True Blue Bay Boutique Resort in Grenada.
  • Destination Stewardship Award honours a CTO-member destination that is making solid strides towards sustainable tourism management at the destination level. Winner: Guyana Tourism Authority.
  • Nature Conservation Award commends any group, organisation, tourism business or attraction working towards the protection of natural and/or marine resources. Winner: Kido Foundation in Carriacou, Grenada.
  • Culture and Heritage Protection Award honours a tourism organisation or initiative making a significant contribution to protect and promote heritage. Winner: Maroon and Stringband Music Festival Committee in Carriacou, Grenada.
  • Sustainable Accommodation Award recognises small or medium-sized (less than 400 rooms) tourist accommodation facilities. Winner: Karanmabu Lodge, Guyana
  • Agro-Tourism Award recognises a business that offers an agro-tourism product incorporating elements of food/agriculture production, culinary output and visitor experience. Winner: Copal Tree Lodge, Belize
  • Community Benefit Award honours an entity that manages tourism well for the long-term benefit of the destination, local people and visitors. Winner: Jus’ Sail, Saint Lucia
  • Tourism Social Enterprise, a special award recognising an initiative by an individual or group/association which addresses social problems by applying innovative tourism development ideas. Winner: Richmond Vale Academy, St. Vincent & the Grenadines

Sponsors of the Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Awards include: Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Barbados; International Institute of Tourism Studies, the George Washington University; Massy Stores, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; the Mustique Company Ltd., St. Vincent and the Grenadines; National Properties Ltd., St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission.

“The CTO is pleased to recognise and promote the pioneering sustainability initiatives being implemented in its member countries. The region’s public and private tourism industry stakeholders continue to exhibit a high level of interest and commitment to sustainable tourism development, making the region a world leader in responsible travel and tourism,” said Amanda Charles, CTO’s sustainable tourism specialist.

The Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development, otherwise known as the Sustainable Tourism Conference (#STC2019), was organised by CTO in partnership with the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority (SVGTA) and was held 26-29 Aug. 2019 at the Beachcombers Hotel in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines hosted #STC2019 amidst an intensified national thrust towards a greener, more climate-resilient destination, including the construction of a geothermal plant on St. Vincent to complement the country’s hydro and solar energy capacity and the restoration of the Ashton Lagoon in Union Island.

 

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, STC

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St. Kitts Undamaged by Tropical Storm Dorian

Basseterre, St. Kitts (August 29, 2019) – St. Kitts is pleased to report that it was fortunate to sustain no damage from the passage of Tropical Storm Dorian to its south on Tuesday morning.

All hotels in St. Kitts are open, fully operational and servicing guests, who, along with local residents, have all remained safe and are returning to normal activities. St. Kitts’ Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport (SKB) remained open and continues to welcome flights.  The Port Zante cruise pier and all sea ports remained open and continue to welcome vessels.  All infrastructure including roads, water mains and power lines are undamaged and functioning normally.

We extend our thoughts and prayers to our Caribbean brothers and sisters in those islands that may yet lie in the path of the storm.  Our sincere thanks to those who have sent thoughts and prayers to St. Kitts.

For the most recent updates on Tropical Storm Dorian, please refer to the National Hurricane Center. For more information about St. Kitts, visit www.stkittstourism.kn.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Destination News

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Hurricane Dorian and the Islands of The Bahamas

NASSAU, Bahamas – The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation (BMOTA) continues to track the progress of Hurricane Dorian, which is expected to become a major hurricane on Friday, August 30 and remain dangerous through the weekend.

On this track, Hurricane Dorian should move over the Atlantic well to the Southeast and Central Bahamas today, Thursday, August 29 and Friday, August 30 and approach the Northwest Bahamas on Saturday, August 31, moving near or over portions of the aforementioned area on Sunday, September 1.

As of Thursday afternoon, a hurricane alert remains in effect for the Northwest Bahamas, including Nassau and New Providence, Eleuthera, Abaco, Grand Bahama, North Andros, Bimini and The Berry Islands – signaling that hurricane conditions are expected in these islands within 60 hours.

Hotels, resorts and tourism businesses throughout the Northwest Bahamas have activated their hurricane response programs and are taking all necessary precautions to protect visitors and residents. Visitors are strongly advised to check directly with airlines, hotels and cruise lines regarding possible impacts on travel plans.

“The safety of our residents and visitors in The Bahamas remains the highest priority for us,” said Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation Director General Joy Jibrilu. “We are liaising with our partners throughout the destination to gather updates and ensure preparedness for Hurricane Dorian, including the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD), the Port Authority and other relevant authorities.”

Residents and visitors may begin to experience effects of the storm, including maximum sustained winds near 85 miles per hour with higher gusts. Strengthening is forecasted during the next few days. Rainfall, flash floods and sea swells are also expected.

Small craft operators in the Northwest Bahamas should begin to seek safe harbor for their vessels and make sure they are properly secured. Mariners in the Central and Southeast Bahamas should exercise caution for moderate to large swells on Friday and Saturday.

Below is information on information on the status of airports, hotels, airline and cruise schedules at this time.

AIRPORTS

  • Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) in Nassau is open and operating at its normal schedule. Nassau LPIA representatives are continuing to monitor reports from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and the Bahamas Department of Meteorology regarding the projected path of Hurricane Dorian, and are collaborating with airline partners to understand their own flight plans in view of projected impacts of the storm in key source markets.
  • Grand Bahama International Airport (FPO) will close at 10 p.m. on Friday, August 30. The airport will not reopen until 6 a.m., Tuesday, September 3. This is subject to prevailing conditions.
    • Bahamasair will operate its last FPO/FLL flight at 9:10 a.m. on Friday, August 30 and its last FPO/NAS flight at 8:15 p.m. ,Friday, August 30.
    • American Airlines will depart FPO at 12:13 p.m., Friday, August 30.
    • Silver Airways will confirm a time for two post-cleared flights Friday, August 30.
    • Flamingo Air flights on Friday, August 30 may be impacted; travelers should contact the airline directly.
    • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (US CBP) will close at 12:00 p.m. , Friday, August 30 until further notice.

HOTELS

The following contains information on hotel status at this time, but this is not a comprehensive listing.

Reservation holders should contact properties directly for complete information.

  • Grand Bahama Island hotels and timeshares have strongly advised guests to leave in anticipation of Hurricane Dorian’s arrival.

FERRY, CRUISE AND PORTS

  • Bahamas Ferries have canceled all weekend operations and sailings beginning Friday, August 30 until further notice. Passengers seeking further information should call 242-323-2166.
  • Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s Grand Celebration will sail at 2 p.m. on Friday, August 30, and will accommodate any passengers who booked a sailing on Saturday, August 31 or Sunday, September 1. All passengers should be on board by 1 p.m. Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s Grand Celebration will resume operations immediately following passage of Hurricane Dorian.
  • Balearia Caribbean will sail at 12:00 p.m. on Friday, August 30. All passengers should be on board by 11a.m.
  • Grand Bahama Island’s Freeport Harbour will close 2 p.m. on Friday, August 30.
  • Nassau ports are open and operating at its normal schedule.

The Bahamas is an archipelago with more than 700 islands and cays, spread over 100,000 square miles; there could be a tropical storm or hurricane warning for parts of the country while other parts remain unaffected.

Each Bahamas Tourist Office (BTO) throughout the islands is equipped with a satellite phone to keep in touch with the command center in New Providence. The Ministry continues to monitor Tropical Storm Dorian and will provide updates at www.bahamas.com/storms. For further information, visit www.nhc.noaa.gov.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Destination News

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Acting CTO Secretary General Neil Walter’s Remarks for STC-2019

Good morning, everyone. It is with great regret that I am unable to join you today at the official opening of this year’s Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development. Given the arrival of Tropical Storm Dorian I was unable to fly to St. Vincent to participate in person in one of the CTO’s most important conferences, which, given the present climatic circumstances, is very timely.

Despite this hiccup, there are quite a few things for which I am grateful. I am grateful that to date, the impact of the weather has remained minimal and the Caribbean continues to – quite literally – smile through the storm. I am grateful for the technology which has allowed me to have at least a virtual presence at this conference. Most importantly, I am grateful to you, the delegates, who despite the challenges posed by the weather, have decided to attend the conference, which is a testament to your commitment to the development of sustainable tourism in the Caribbean.

We at the CTO would especially like to thank the Government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for agreeing to host this important event. This event is the first CTO event of its kind being hosted by St. Vincent and the Grenadines and we would like to thank you for your hospitality, especially in the face of the weather conditions earlier this week. We also commend you on your resolve to host the conference given the delay by one day.

It gives me great pleasure to speak to you at the opening of what promises to be a very interesting, thought provoking few days. More importantly, we hope that at the end of this period, the discussions will lead to actions and collaborations which will in turn assist with the reshaping of this industry we rely on for the sustainability of our regional economies.

Indeed, the concept of sustainability, almost unheard of just 30 years ago, has now become a buzz word, as it should. More and more, we realize that this word, hardly spoken in previous generations is now a powerful focal point since it clearly and succinctly defines how we should manage our own lives, in addition to the world around us.

The Caribbean is our slice of the earth, and like everywhere else on this planet, it comes with its own unique blend of natural characteristics. It has sustained life for thousands (maybe millions) of years and continues to do so even as life everywhere becomes more complex. We as custodians have a responsibility to ensure that we contribute to the sustenance of life now and in the future.

It is very instructive that this conference’s theme includes the phrase ‘Keeping the Right Balance’. We must keep at the forefront of our minds the delicate balance between our development as the human race and the changes we have caused in the world around us. In the latter part of the Iron Age in which we now live man has seen exponential levels of mechanical and scientific development. In fact, it is clear that man’s development in the last one hundred years has essentially outpaced the earth’s adaptation to this development. This has led to some dire consequences such as climate change which we face today.

So now, we come to tourism. As the most tourism-dependent region in the world, there is no doubt that tourism is – to a large extent – the region’s economic lifeblood. Millions of our citizens depend on tourism in both direct and indirect ways. In addition to the jobs which have contributed directly to the wellbeing of Caribbean households, tourism has also contributed to the construction of schools and medical facilities, the upgrading of utilities and roads, and has generally improved the quality of life in the region. This has translated, in some cases, to almost phenomenal levels of development in some countries in the last thirty years, especially when compared to the previous thirty years. And, like the global human development versus natural adaptation relationship I referred to earlier, the development of tourism in the Caribbean has at times not been in sync with the environment in which this growth has occurred.

Conferences like this one are very relevant, as they provide platforms for the dissemination of good practices which can, if properly implemented, help to bridge the gap and ensure a symbiotic relationship between the tourism industry and the environment in which it functions.  In this region, like other regions of the world, tourism taps into several different resources, not just the sun, sea and sand. Now more than ever before, visitors are collectors of experiences and not just any experience, but an authentic experience. This places demands on the region’s cultural, heritage, human, financial and natural resources as we seek to refine our tourism product to cater to these ever-expanding needs.

With an industry such as this, which straddles such a wide cross section of our lives while relying on so many of our resources, a sound sustainable framework for tourism is essential, even as we critically examine previous tourism development and look toward the future. As you can imagine, these changes like any other form of change, come at a cost. At this point in time, change is being encouraged when most economies can least afford any additional pull on resources.

The CTO is committed to providing the good practices to its members, which can be used to achieve the ultimate goal of sustainable tourism development.  Our approach has been to seek out ways to bring these good practices using the most contemporary information and methodologies which are available.

The second part of the title phrase: ‘Tourism Development in an Era of Diversification’, recognizes the requirement at this point in tourism development in the Caribbean to embrace our diverse assets. This is especially important as we note that some of our main competition, such as Asian and Pacific tourist destinations, has – to a large extent – built their tourism product from the ground up by embracing their diverse natural and cultural assets. This conference will seek to examine the economic, environmental and socio-cultural pillars of sustainability, thereby offering a holistic approach to addressing the sustainable tourism dynamic.

Sustainable tourism development efforts would not be possible without close collaboration. Consequently, In the implementation of the Sustainable Tourism Development Programme, the CTO partners with various regional and international organizations to enhance inter-sectoral linkages, expand the scope and impact of our initiatives, contribute to capacity-building of the region’s human resources and increase the competitiveness of member destinations.

Two noteworthy initiatives being implemented over the past two years have been the ‘Climate Smart and Sustainable Caribbean Tourism Industry project, funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) through the ACP-EU Natural Disaster Risk Management Programme. This initiative has significantly supported the updating of the Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Policy Framework, the provisioning of training and tools in disaster risk management, and a regional education and awareness campaign to promote sustainability practices.

The Innovation for Tourism Expansion and Diversification project is another pioneering regional initiative being implemented with financial and technical assistance from the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). This initiative, which has a community-based tourism (CBT) focus, will culminate in the provision of a community-based tourism toolkit for Caribbean countries, in-depth primary market research on the demand and willingness to pay for CBT experiences and a project to foster the adoption of digital payments and mobile wallet technologies among Tourism Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises.

In the execution of its role to support regional tourism development, CTO has a mandate which takes into account the need to maintain product quality, increase profitability, promote the region effectively, engage local populations and strengthen linkages between tourism and other economic sectors. The CTO works collaboratively with its member states and partners to support the development of adequate policies and to implement strategies to maximize potential benefits and opportunities while also mitigating the threats and challenges to the sustainability of Caribbean tourism.

We look forward to continued collaboration beyond this conference. It is our fervent hope that the presentations and discussions enhance the pursuit of sustainable tourism development in the region.

I thank you.

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TTAL Encourages British Birders to Flock to Tobago

SCARBOROUGH Tobago, Friday August 23, 2019: The Tobago Tourism Agency Limited (TTAL) represented the island at the British Birdwatching Fair (Birdfair) from August 16 to 18, 2019, in ongoing efforts to promote Tobago as a premier, globally competitive bird-watching destination and eco-holiday option in the United Kingdom.

The UK is notably one of the strongest source markets for birdwatching travelers, and the Tobago Tourism Agency’s targeting of travelers in that niche aligns with the destination’s strategic pillar of eco adventure and nature. Tobago has considerable assets to attract birding enthusiasts, as the island is ranked 5th per capita in the world by the National Audubon society and offers a variety and density of birds through accessible sites, which translates to good value for money.

Birdfair 2019 was held at the Rutland Water Nature Reserve in Leicestershire, United Kingdom. The event is the largest of its kind in the UK, attracting over 23,000 visitors annually seeking out new ideas for destinations to travel to, equipment to try out and lectures to attend.

Tobago’s stand was managed by TTAL Marketing Coordinator Ms. Sheena Des Vignes, Marketing Officer Ms. Marsha Patrick, and UK Sales and Marketing Manager Mr. Stephen Smith of AMG Ltd. They were also accompanied by Tobago’s premier bird-watching and natural history guide, Mr. Newton George. The stand’s eye-catching design impressed not only attendees, but also the Birdfair organizers who judged Tobago 2nd place in the “Best Stand” awards.

The team was able to educate birding enthusiasts and experts on the unique aspects of birding in Tobago, and highlight the commercial travel packages that are available to birdwatchers considering Tobago as a destination option. They also engaged in data collection to inform future marketing strategies, and met with UK Tour Operators, with the overarching goal of getting more UK visitors to book a holiday to Tobago.

As part of their marketing strategy at the event, TTAL also engaged BBC Wildlife Magazine to prominently feature Tobago in their official British Birdwatching Fair Guide- which allowed the destination to be exposed to 226,000 readers. The partnership with the BBC subsidiary also allowed Tobago exposure on digital platforms, with a “website takeover” and boosted social media posts.

Based on feedback from partners on the destination’s stand at the 2018 Birdfair, there were a reported 912 bookings to Tobago from the show to date – an increase of 40% from 2017 which recorded 650 bookings, illustrating a definite return on investment. These visitors also utilize supporting services in the tourism industry including accommodation, transportation and food, which spur additional economic activity for Tobago.

Marketing Coordinator Sheena Des Vignes said, “This particular visitor segment is very informed. Many of them already had Tobago on their list of birdwatching destinations to explore, and with the combination packages we offered on stand, we made it easy for them to see the range of experiences they could have. That helped to seal the deal in terms of them coming booking a trip to Tobago.”

Ms. Des Vignes also noted that the Tobago team was able to leverage the experiences of birders who previously visited the island to persuade potential visitors to book, as Tobago has a growing positive reputation within the UK birding fraternity. “We had a stream of attendees share positive endorsements about their experience birdwatching in Tobago, which was a welcome and helpful addition to our activities at Birdfair. These visitor to visitor interactions really helped us to successfully sell the destination.”

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Spicemas Continues Strong Positive Growth in Arrivals

St. George’s, Grenada – 22nd August, 2019 – On the heels of a phenomenal 24.9% growth in arrivals for the 2018 Carnival Season, Grenada records a 7.7% increase in arrivals for the 2019 festival of 13,327 compared to 12,379. This figure is a measure of the visitors and diaspora arriving in the destination, prior to Carnival Monday. Of the 13,327 stayover visitors, 10,505 were tourists and 2,822 were Grenadians residing abroad. Part of this growth is attributed to additional airlift including 3 extra flights from LIAT, increased marketing and the global recognition of Grenada’s artistes, culture and music.

The best performing markets for Spicemas 2019 were:

  • United States, 21%, a total of 6,818 visitors
  • Trinidad & Tobago, 7%, with a total of 1,973 visitors

Grenada’s soca, groovy and calypso music coupled with its authentic and distinctly unique offerings of Jab Jab and Monday Night Mas, served to wow visitors and highlight what sets Spicemas apart from other Carnivals. 2019 also saw a marked increase in participation with twelve (12) bands parading for the Monday Night Mas street party. The masqueraders reveled to the rhythms of carnival and lit up the night sky with a plethora of colourfully branded t-shirts, lighted hats and wands. Fancy Mas on Carnival Monday and Tuesday also saw increased participation from bands (11) and masqueraders with bejeweled costumes, pageantry and storytelling.

Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation Hon. Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen thanked all the contributors to Spicemas 2019 including the artists, bandleaders and service providers. She said, “The numbers speak to the growing interest in Spicemas as one of the best Carnivals to visit in the Caribbean. Our people make the experience memorable and enjoyable with their warm hospitality and visible pride in their music and culture. Grenada for Spicemas 2020 promises to be a spectacular event, I encourage you to book early.”

Grenada’s Spicemas Carnival 2020 is carded for August 10 and 11. Visit www.puregrenada.com to begin planning your trip.

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