CTO News

Archive for September, 2019

CTO Tourism Sector Outlook Forum Preview: How JetBlue Works with Caribbean Destinations

“Your destination must be not only present but ‘come alive’ in mobile placements across the web, with links to simple and fast booking options once a customer shows interest.” – Mike Pezzicola, JetBlue.


BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – (28 Sept. 2019) – Member governments of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and leaders from entities that generate business to the region meet in Antigua and Barbuda on Friday 4 October for the first CTO Caribbean Tourism Sector Outlook Forum.

Among the senior executives who will speak about their plans, programmes and activities is Mike Pezzicola, the head of commercial for JetBlue Travel, who went to JetBlue from Google where he spent the previous five years building out the Google shopping product.

Ahead of the forum, we quizzed him on a number of issues, including the Caribbean tourism product and how the region’s tourism sector should make better use of technology.

CTO: What makes JetBlue the number one carrier to the Caribbean?

MP: For our entire 19-year history, the Caribbean has always been a major focus of JetBlue. JetBlue operates over 1000 flights daily with a third of its route network in the Caribbean. Also, we are proud to have one of our focus cities located in the region at San Juan. We have continually grown our destinations and flights in the Caribbean over time as well as enhanced our service offerings with the addition and expansion of Mint service.

CTO: When you work with member countries to introduce service, what are some of the things you look for?

MP: Our customers are always our first focus. How can we expand our service in a way that excites our existing customers and introduces JetBlue to customers in new markets? Along with our customers, we are of course always looking to form strong partnerships with member countries to determine how we can introduce service in a way that is sustainable and poised for growth for both JetBlue and the member country.

CTO: Do you collaborate with the destinations on marketing? If so, how?

MP: Marketing our awesome destinations is a favourite part of my job. If you explore the JetBlue and JetBlue Vacations websites, you’ll notice how we strive to emphasise not only key attractions but also the unique aspects and culture of Caribbean destinations. We partner with destinations on cooperative marketing efforts for both large campaigns (month long out of home marketing efforts) and even smaller events (such as highlighting local regional sporting or cultural events).

CTO: Based on your experience at Google building out the Google sopping product, and combining Google’s search experience with seamless e-commerce shopping, how must the Caribbean use technology to facilitate travel?

MP: Most customers at the very least begin their inspiration and education for travel using their thumb (searching, scrolling, and exploring on their phone). Your destination must be not only present but ‘come alive’ in mobile placements across the web, with links to simple and fast booking options once a customer shows interest. How can you get customers not only to explore and learn on their phone, but then quickly BOOK as well?

CTO: What are your thoughts on the Caribbean tourism product as it currently stands?

MP: The Caribbean market provides such a wide variety of unique options for customers – which is both an opportunity and a challenge. We together must ensure customers consider the Caribbean as they begin planning their travel but at the same time ensure we leverage your variety of offerings.

CTO: Without going into too many details, please summarise what you intend to share with our member governments at the CTO’s outlook forum?

MP: I look forward to providing some details about the growth of JetBlue Travel over the next few years.


Please note the CTO Caribbean Tourism Sector Outlook Forum is for government members only, including, but not limited to, ministers and commissioners of tourism, directors of tourism, chief executives of destination management organisations, permanent secretaries, advisors and specialists and technical officers.

For further details on the tourism outlook forum, including how to register, please visit https://www.onecaribbean.org/events-calendar/october-2019-meetings/forum/.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Corporate News

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St Martin’s World Tourism Day Message

On this day September 27th, 2019 recognize as “World Tourism day”, I will like to salute all those that have been contributing directly or indirectly in this sector which is very dare to us all knowing the significant value of Tourism and what it represents.

This year’s theme is quite interesting “Tourism and Jobs”.

I take this, as a call of awareness for us stakeholders in the tourism industry to remember the importance of these two going hand in hand.

The Tourism industry is a sector, which is evolving at a rapid rate creating more and more job opportunities. Research suggests that every one in five new jobs were created by the industry over the last five years. In 2018, the Travel & Tourism industry experienced 3.9% growth, compared to the global economy (3.2%).

World travel and tourism council (WTTC) works to raise awareness of Travel & Tourism as one of the world’s largest economic sectors, supporting one in 10 jobs (319 million) worldwide and generating 10.4% (US$8.8 trillion) of world GDP in 2018.

We often overlook even underestimate the Tourism’s role in the jobs it creates.

We need to ensure equitable employment which will help with social inclusion, peace and security.

The creation of policies and actions around a major tourism awareness will help prepare and ensure a bright future, permitting us to be at the top of our game all this while creating the right types of job to answer to all advancement in the future of tourism (technology, innovation etc.….)

This will permit us to prepare professionals in this industry and create a true balance between both the tourism product needed and the tourism jobs required.

As mentioned, tourism is the major source of employment, but we must implement policies to promote sustainable tourism which will create jobs to preserve our local culture and products all while selling a unique experience.

In Saint Martin, tourism is our primary source of income.

There is still a huge potential to be unlocked in this industry and on this World Tourism Day I call upon one and all as we overcome existing challenges to remind everyone that “Tourism is you, Tourism is me, Tourism is US” we are the ones to preserve and promote it.
As visitors will view this friendly island as a unique travel destination, filled with beauty, diversity and culture.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Destination News

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World Tourism Day 2019 Message by Neil Walters Acting Secretary General CTO

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – 27 September 2019 – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) joins the global community today in celebrating World Tourism Day 2019 under the theme, “Tourism and Jobs: A better Future for All”.

Tourism is the region’s primary money earner, with the Caribbean welcoming an estimated 30.2 million international tourists and 29.3 million cruise visits in 2018, generating approximately US$39.3 billion in revenue for regional economies.

The sector provides a myriad of opportunities to enrich the lives of residents. It drives meaningful employment, investment and entrepreneurial initiatives, contributes to sustainable alternative livelihoods and supports community development, which has importantly begun to include development in rural and traditionally marginalised communities.

At our recently held Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development (STC) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, we heard from various indigenous and other community presenters how sustainable tourism enterprises continue to act as conduits for social transformation by providing a means for women’s empowerment, youth engagement in meaningful work and contributing to poverty alleviation in communities such as the Charles Town maroon community in Jamaica, Rewa village in Guyana, and Hopkins Village in Belize. We also heard from The Bahamas how its People to People programme makes such a difference to the lives of Bahamians who host and connect with visitors.

Less than one week after STC, we received a stark reminder of the severe threats to the brighter future which tourism promises when Hurricane Dorian devastated Abaco and Grand Bahama in northwestern Bahamas where it lingered for two days. With sustained winds of 185 mph and higher gusts, Dorian was one more example of the increasing intensity of hurricanes, something that we fear is becoming all too common for the region.

The Dorian experience, along with Matthew in 2016 and Irma and Maria in 2017, emphasizes the urgent need for adaptation to the impacts of natural disasters propelled by climate variability and climate change (CVC). It should also highlight the support needed by the tourism sector, and most particularly national governments, to enhance climate resilience. Scientists have predicted among other CVC impacts, an increase in the frequency and severity of natural disasters.

These powerful climatic events in the last four years make it clear that the time to act is now. It is important to ensure climate adaptation and resilience of the sector, for the Caribbean to secure and maintain tourism’s role and capability as an engine for social and economic growth, the generator of jobs and the foundation of a future for all.

We have to do our own critical analysis, and in some cases, rebuild this important industry by ensuring the optimal use of social, natural, cultural and financial resources on an equitable and self-sustaining basis. The setbacks caused by these natural disasters present a very powerful opportunity for us to ‘build back better’, to borrow the slogan made popular by one of our members after the hurricanes in 2017.

Let us begin a journey of turning our threats into opportunities, that along with the existing strength of the Caribbean brand, can help us to move tourism to become an even more robust industry; one with an enhanced tourism product, generating new jobs and possibilities for our people and creating a better future for all.

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Dominica’s Official Hike Passport

Roseau, Dominica – (September 24, 2019) Dominica has a vast network of hiking trails that suits all interests and levels of ability. Most trails traverse through diverse natural habitats such as rainforest, montane thicket or elfin woodland. The scale and diversity of hiking in Dominica makes the island unique to the Caribbean region.

As a means of encouraging visitors to hike the various trails in Dominica, Discover Dominica Authority has developed Dominica’s official Trail Hiker’s Logbook and Passport. This hike passport is a fun way to record one’s hiking experiences; Hikers will be awarded for their achievements, based on the number of trails hiked.

Hike passports are free of charge and can be obtained from Discover Dominica Authority’s main office on Great Marlborough Street, Forestry Division, DHTA office and Tourist Information offices at the Roseau Bayfront, Roseau Ferry Terminal and Douglas-Charles Airport.

Because Dominica’s hikes are all very different and have their own unique challenges, each is given a score against the TREAD categories listed in the hike passport.  These ratings are simply meant as indicators to help hikers make hiking choices; the indicator provides details on the level of difficulty.

The Government of Dominica through the Ministry of Tourism and Culture has invested in the restoration of various hiking trails, reconstruction and refurbishment of structures on or near the trails, so as to provide great experiences to visitors and locals alike.

Visit www.discoverdominica.com or call us at 1 767 255 8221 for further details.

For more information on Dominica, contact Discover Dominica Authority at 767 448 2045. Or, visit Dominica’s official website: www.DiscoverDominica.com, see Dominica’s updates on the tourism sector post Hurricane Maria: www.dominicaupdate.com, follow Dominica on Twitter and Facebook and take a look at our videos on YouTube.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Destination News

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Puerto Rico Says Thank You

Today marks two years since Hurricane Maria, and Puerto Rico’s tourism community wants to say THANK YOU to all the travelers who have helped Puerto Rico have a record-breaking year so far. With year-to-date tourism revenue and passenger arrivals at an all-time high, the tourism industry, currently one of Puerto Rico’s shining lights, and a success story worth sharing, has made a historical comeback and has never been stronger.

Discover Puerto Rico developed a video called “Thank you from Puerto Rico,” a compilation of stories and thank you’s from Puerto Ricans who depend on tourism. It shines a light on the importance of tourism and its impact on the local economy, and shows just how impactful a visit to the Island can be. Puerto Rico’s story is one of resiliency, especially among the local community, and those that tourism impacts each and every day. A slightly longer version of this video just went live here, as well.

Island images can be found here, and hi-res images from the video here, as well as tourism stats below.

Tourism Growth

  • Welcoming over 4M visitors each year, Puerto Rico is on track to achieve a record-breaking year in 2019.
  • According to CTO, tourism on the Island experienced an increase of 62.3% in the first 6 months of 2019.
  • Puerto Rico is recovering 4X faster than New Orleans after Katrina.


  • YTD tourism revenue has been at an all-time high.
    • – Apr. 2019 occupancy spending for hotels/independent rentals combined reached $373.6M, the highest in 8 years, and an increase of 12.4% compared to 2017 pre-Maria levels. The rest of ‘19 is booking 24.1% higher than ‘18 for hotels.
    • – June lodging demand showed significant growth, with traditional lodging/independent rentals combined, Puerto Rico is less than 2% off record highs in 2017.
  • YTD inventory is more than the Island has ever had.
    • Overall, the number of room nights in hotels and independent rentals in Q1 increased 17% over 2018, generating the highest Q1 demand in room nights ever recorded in Puerto Rico.
    • Puerto Rico dominated the list of the top 10 Airbnb world destinations this summer.

Air Access

  • San Juan International Airport (SJU) set a June record for most arrivals in the month’s history, surpassing the previous record from June 2017.
  • In the first 8 months of 2019, San Juan International Airport (SJU) has handled an 11.4% jump in passenger traffic, representing a total of more than 6.5M passengers.
    • arrivals to San Juan International Airport (SJU) saw 7.6% growth compared to Aug. 2018, with a total of 815.043 passengers.
  • The Aguadilla airport established individual and collective passenger records for January – April, reaching 251,898 passengers, an increase of 98,271 compared to the same period in 2018. This, being a strong sign of growth as carriers expand capacity.

Cruise Industry

  • The projection for 2019 cruise ship passengers is expected to break records at 1.8M passengers.
  • 2019 numbers reflected an increase of 28.9% of visitors from previous years.
  • There was a 56.6% increase in homeport cruise passengers compared to Jan. 2018.


  • The Puerto Rico Convention Center, the most technically-advanced convention center in the Caribbean, experienced its most successful year in its 14-year history during the 2018-2019 fiscal year. It saw:
    • An increase of 26% in total attendance (644,000 visitors) over the previous 13-year average.
    • 96% overall customer satisfaction ratings along with a 21% increase in total events.
    • 417 events in comparison to previous 13-year average.
  • In addition to this, using 3-year historical volume, group sales on the Island are booking 212% higher for 2020.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Destination News

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Caribbean Youth to Tackle Issues of Smart Travel at CTO Youth Congress

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (20 Sept. 2019) – Students from 14 Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) member countries will tackle some of the most pertinent issues facing the regional tourism industry at the CTO-organised Caribbean Tourism Youth Congress in Antigua & Barbuda next month.

The ‘Junior Ministers of Tourism’ will present proposals on three topics – Towards Smart Travel Experiences Within The Caribbean Region; Equipping Our Youth To Thrive In A Changing Tourism Environment; and Making Excellence A Habit In Caribbean Tourism.

The students, aged 14 to 17, will do so in the presence of the key decision-makers from CTO-member governments, among other tourism leaders, at the event to be held at the Royalton Antigua Resort & Spa on Friday 4 October.

On the issue of smart travel experiences, students will propose policies or actions which can be implemented by governments to facilitate smart travel experiences at ports of entry. They will also address the quest for habitual service excellence in the tourism industry in order to meet growing expectations on businesses and keep the industry competitive and growing.

In addition, the students will also look at government strategies which can help prepare young people for the changing nature of work brought about by technology.

An Overseas Development Institute 2015 report on ‘Jobs for the Future’ predicts that such jobs “will look dramatically different” from what we are used to. “Fundamental changes in Technology – the ‘digital revolution’ – are breaking down barriers and building new bridges with unprecedented speed. Together with the retirement of the baby boomer generation and rise of the millennials generation [and Generation Z], we see a workforce with new characteristics. Interconnectivity and globalisation are weaving a new economy that connects the world at great speed, creating new powerhouses and threatening traditional models,” the report states.

The gathering, typically a thought-provoking and spirited exchange of views from the youth leaders, will be chaired by last year’s winner, Bryanna Hylton of Jamaica.

The Caribbean Tourism Youth Congress is the final event of a three-day programme of activities organised by the CTO in Antigua and Barbuda. It will follow the members-only Caribbean Tourism Sector Outlook Forum on the morning of Friday 4 October, at which Caribbean tourism policymakers, marketers and other senior officers will engage leaders from the tourism industry that generate business to the region. Both these events will be preceded by the CTO business meetings on 2 and 3 October.

For details on the programme of activities, including how to register for the forum and the youth congress, please visit https://www.onecaribbean.org/events-calendar/october-2019-meetings/.

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