Archive for October, 2019

Caribbean Tourism Organization Welcomes JetBlue’s Continued Growth in the Region

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (24 Oct. 2019) – Having doubled its seat capacity to the Caribbean over the last decade, JetBlue is looking to expand its business footprint in the region, including through its travel booking arm, JetBlue Travel Products.

Mike Pezzicola, the head of commercial for JetBlue Travel Products, presented at a recent Caribbean outlook forum organised by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) in Antigua and Barbuda.

He said JetBlue operates over 1000 flights daily with a third of its route network in the Caribbean, and this is likely to increase as JetBlue continues to expand capacity in the years ahead. Since May of 2018, JetBlue has added six additional non-stop routes to Caribbean destinations.

In addition, the JetBlue official told the senior tourism policymakers and executives the company was also focused on increasing bookings of ground transportation, tours, hotels and attractions in destinations through the travel booking arm.

“One thing we see is that as folks are planning to travel, when they book their travel vacation with us, and we help them plan it, their stay is longer and they are more likely to return, if not to the destination then to another destination in the tropics,” said Pezzicola.

He added that JetBlue was also focusing on improving its cooperative marketing with destinations and large resorts, while also emphasising the uniqueness of Caribbean destinations by highlighting their culture, food and events.

“We are working very heavily now on explaining the difference and as a lot of our customers, particularly those flying down from the US, have this vision that every  [destination in the Caribbean] is the same and we all know that is not true,” said Pezzicola.

The Caribbean tourism outlook forum was the first organised by the CTO as a platform for discussion between member governments and leaders from the tourism industry that generate business to the region. It was attended by ministers and commissioners of tourism, directors of tourism, chief executives of destination management organisations, permanent secretaries, advisors and specialists and technical officers from 12 member countries.

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2019 Caribbean Travel Media Awards UK Finalists Announced

London, UK 19 October 2019: The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is delighted to announce the final shortlist in each of the eight categories in the 2019 Caribbean Travel Media Awards. More than 130 entries across eight categories were reviewed by an expert panel of judges, representing the media and travel industry, via a strict criteria and points system.

Carol Hay, the CTO’s director of marketing for UK and Europe, said, “Over the past few weeks our expert panel of judges have deliberated and debated to decide the finalists for this year’s awards and we congratulate all the nominees who made it on the shortlist. The high calibre of entries received truly underlines the passion that media continue to have for the Caribbean and I am sure this made it a tough job for the judges. We acknowledge our Judges for their time and commitment and look forward to welcoming them and the finalists to the Awards.”

The full list of finalists in each category, in no particular order, is:

Best travel trade feature
Sponsor: Discover Dominica Authority
Kathryn Liston, Selling Travel
Andrew Doherty, TTG
Martin Steady, Selling Travel

Best national newspaper feature
Sponsor: St. Kitts Tourism Authority
Fiona Hyde, Irish Times
Juliet Rix, Telegraph
Ian Belcher, The Times

Best regional newspaper feature
Sponsor: Saint Lucia Tourism Authority
Priya Joshi, Press Association
Hannah Stephenson, Press Association
Jane Harris, Waterfront Magazine

Best consumer feature
Sponsor: Cayman Islands Department of Tourism
Nick Redman, Sunday Times Travel Magazine
Caroline Robertson-Brown, Dive Travel Adventures
Ronan O’Shea, Escapism Magazine

Best broadcast, TV and radio feature
Sponsor: Bahamas Tourist Office
Ainsley’s Caribbean Kitchen in Dominica, ITV
Greg McKenzie, BBC Travel Show
Ainsley’s Caribbean Kitchen in Antigua, ITV

Best online feature or blog post
Sponsor: Tobago Tourism Agency
Heather Cowper, Heather on her travels + Ella Alexander, Harpers Bazaar
Macca Sherifi-An Adventurous World
Ursula Barzey, Caribbean & Co + Laura French, Lonely Planet

Best Social Media Campaign
Sponsor: Cayman Islands Department of Tourism
Celebrating Creole Day – Ursula Barzey, Caribbean & Co.
Traverse Antigua Conference 2019
Charlie and Jess Wild – Kuoni and The Travel Project

Best Caribbean Round Up
Sponsor: Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.
Jo Cooke, Travel Weekly
Audrey Gillan and Nicola Trup, National Geographic Traveller
Lucy Thackray, Mandarin Oriental Magazine.

Amongst the panel of judges for the 2019 Caribbean Travel Media Awards were:
Johnson Johnrose, Communications Specialist, Caribbean Tourism Organization; Helen Tabois, Senior Product & Marketing Manager, Caribbean & Cruise, ITC Travel; Pat Riddell, Editor, National Geographic Traveller (UK); Greg Armstrong, Product Management Director, Blue Bay Travel; Gary Davis, GD Travel & Travel Tips; Donna Joseph, Sales Director, SN Travel; Laverne Walker, Director, Sackville Travel Services Ltd; Daniel Pearce, CEO, TTG Media; Eulanda & Omo, founders & creative curators of HDYTI; Paul Scudamore, Contributing Editor, Travel Bulletin; Rachel O’Reilly, Head of Communications, Kuoni; Denise Greene, Sunrise Marketing; Graham McKenzie, Travelmole.

Click here to read more about each of our 14 judges on the panel.

The Caribbean Travel Media Awards continue to celebrate and reward the very best representation of the Caribbean by the media industry in the areas of story-telling in print and online, social media and broadcast. The overall winners will be announced at a special awards ceremony on Monday 4 November to be held at the Crowne Plaza London Docklands at Royal Victoria Dock.

Individual sponsors support each category with this year’s headline sponsor confirmed as Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.

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CTO Mourns Passing of Flora Gilford, Former President of CTO Northern California Chapter

NEW YORK, NY (17 Oct., 2019) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is grieving the loss of a longtime friend of the Caribbean, Flora Gilford, who passed away on 9 Oct., 2019 in Michigan at the age of 97. Gilford was a travel agent who served as president of the CTO Northern California Chapter between the late 1980s to mid-1990s. Visitation will be held on 21 Oct. from 7 – 8 p.m. at the Gorsline Runciman Funeral Home in Lansing, Michigan.

“Flora Gilford was well loved by her peers; she wholeheartedly loved the Caribbean and was always willing to volunteer when we needed a helping hand,” said Sylma Brown, director of CTO-USA, Inc. “She treated the CTO staff members and young sales representatives for CTO member countries as her children, always looking out for their well-being in a motherly way. To this day, my own children, nieces and nephews that knew her while they were growing up refer to her as ‘Grandma Flora’ because that is what she told them to call her,” Brown added.

Gilford was instrumental in the execution of the Caribbean Sales seminars, held annually in CTO member countries, which provided travel agent members of the CTO Chapters across the U.S. and Canada with the opportunity to participate in exclusive training and in-country workshops. She always attended the Caribbean Tourism Conferences (CTC) and consistently volunteered to assist CTO with managing the travel agents who attended the conferences.

Gilford also spearheaded fundraising efforts for the Audrey Palmer Hawks Memorial Scholarship Fund, a pre-cursor to the current CTO Scholarship Foundation.

“Flora was a loving, compassionate and wonderful woman who will be missed by many who loved her,” said Brown.

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Statement by CTO Chairman, Dominic Fedee, on Organization Restructuring

Over the past two decades, there has been much discussion surrounding the promotion and development of tourism in the Caribbean, the world’s most tourism dependent region. While there have been many visions, plans, papers written and philosophies espoused, there has been widespread acceptance that much improvement  is needed to elevate tourism development in the region.

Some of the most discussed aspirations range from marketing the Caribbean as a single brand, more in-depth research, and a greater uniformed approach to policy formulation and product development.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) therefore recognizes that it plays a most essential role in the changes required to achieve the long held view to enhance tourism’s role as a tool for sustainable development among member states. Consequently, we are of the firm view that in order to play a stronger role in the new era of tourism development, we have to reinvent  and reposition the organization as a pillar upon which tourism advancement can rest.

To better streamline our operations and finances, we are announcing the following:

  1. Closure of our New York office by December 31, 2019
  2. Closure of our United Kingdom office by January 31, 2020
  3. A comprehensive audit of the Barbados office

This restructuring exercise is expected to significantly reduce the operational expenditures of CTO, giving it more capacity to undertake its key functions of regional marketing, statistics and research, and product development.

CTO notes that this exercise will lead to some displacement, but firmly believes that it represents a strong revitalization of the organization. This is a necessary process to ensure tourism plays its most vital role as a means to bring about opportunity and prosperity for the people of the Caribbean.

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Turks & Caicos Islands’ ‘Junior Tourism Minister’ Wins CTO Tourism Youth Congress

JOHN’S, Antigua (7 Oct. 2019) -The representative of the Turks & Caicos Islands emerged the winner of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Tourism Youth Congress held in the Antigua and Barbuda parliament building on Friday 4 October.

Fifteen-year-old Helena Jones Robinson High student Danae Dennie was among 14 ‘junior ministers of tourism’ from CTO member countries who exchanged thought-provoking and spirited presentations on topics related to the future of the industry.

Danae Dennie receives her prize from CTO’s acting secretary general, Neil Walters

Dennie presented a compelling presentation and offered suggestions to enhance the national tourism product of the Turks & Caicos Islands through a national tourism service programme, a visitor satisfaction review app dubbed “My Absolute Truth”, and a STAR awards programme.

The junior ministers each spoke on one of the topics of: ‘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 youth delegates were also each given a ‘mystery’ topic on which to speak.

In second place was Hailey Mahy, 15, of the Ursuline Convent School in Barbados, while Tobago’s Kayleigh Lewis, 16, of Scarborough Secondary placed third.

Dennie received a cruise for two compliments of Royal Caribbean International, while Mahy received two return tickets compliments of JetBlue, and Lewis received a cash prize of US$500 compliments of the CTO Scholarship Foundation.

The other junior ministers and commissioners of tourism who took part were: Jody-Ann Parker, 15, of Antigua & Barbuda; Akeya Herbert, 17, of the British Virgin Islands; Leanna Allen of the Cayman Islands; Jenna Thomas, 16, of Jamaica, Meïssane Carpin, 15, of Martinique; Brianne Chapman, 14, of Nevis; Anastasia Korstanje, 16, of St. Eustatius; Aneeda Hardat, 14, of St. Martin and Kenisha Castello, 15, of St. Vincent & the Grenadines.

The youth congress, which simulates a CTO council of ministers and commissions meeting, was chaired by the last year’s winner, Bryanna Hylton, 18, of Jamaica. It brought to an end two days of activities by the CTO – including business meetings and a Caribbean tourism sector outlook forum – held in collaboration with the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority and the ministry of tourism.

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