Archive for March, 2021

Antigua and Barbuda Begins Vaccination for Tourism Frontline Workers

JOHN’S, ANTIGUA (MARCH 15, 2021) – The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has begun the Covid-19 vaccination process for frontline workers in the Tourism Industry.

Speaking on the accelerated vaccination process for those within the country’s vital tourism industry, CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Colin C. James said, “We are encouraged by the enthusiasm of our tourism stakeholders who made themselves available for the vaccine.

The continued health and safety of our tourism workers remains a priority for us as we welcome visitors safely to our destination and prepare for a strong tourism rebound when travel restrictions ease within the next few months in our key source markets.”

Over two thousand (2,000) Hospitality professionals across Antigua and Barbuda to include Hotel workers, Tours Operators, Restaurant and Retail employees were vaccinated this past week.

Mr. Alex de Brito Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association stated that “It is of utmost importance for us to protect our employees. Our industry cannot survive without their dedication, hard work and commitment to seeing the Industry bounce back. With so many already taking the step towards vaccination, we are confident that our destination will have a positive image in the international travel media. Our message is definitely one that promotes the safety of our destination and the commitment that the Government has shown in reviving the economy of Antigua and Barbuda and getting us beyond the grips of the pandemic.”

Additionally, 473 persons from the airline community also received their first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week, at the VC Bird International Airport.

Amongst those given the opportunity to receive the vaccine were Administrative, Operations and Security staff of the Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority, airline staff, concessionaires, ground handlers, taxi drivers, red caps, and tour companies.

CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority Euletta Francis reflected on the past year.

“In March 2020, the pandemic forced the closure of our borders.  Today, I am mindful that we are at this point having come through an extremely challenging year.  I am indeed grateful that employees who have sacrificed so much and overcome their worst fears during a difficult time got this important layer of protection in the fight against Covid-19,” Francis noted.

To date, over 23,000 persons in Antigua and Barbuda have been vaccinated.  Those vaccinated include health care workers, senior and vulnerable citizens, educators, those within the public sector, and tourism frontline workers.

Posted in: 2021 News, Blog, Coronavirus (COVID-19), Destination News

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Caribbean Tourism Performance Report 2020

Overview

Across the Caribbean,  the impact of COVID-19 on the travel and tourism industry has been very apparent. The impact was particularly evident during the period of April to about mid -June when there was literally no activity in some of our destinations.

This was characterised by empty hotels and restaurants, deserted attractions, shut borders, laid-off workers, grounded airlines and crippled cruise lines. While we saw some fluctuations in the levels of visitors for the remaining months of the 2020, the influx of visitors has not reached levels even closely comparable to those being experienced prior to March 2020. In fact, some destinations remain closed to visitors, with limited airlift primarily for repatriation of locals and cargo.

Cruise lines plying Caribbean routes remain non-operational due to a  strict ban imposed by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC).

With government restrictions both in the Caribbean and globally reducing, and in many cases, preventing travel for large periods of time, the Caribbean had a significant drop in arrivals in 2020, although the region performed better than any other region in world.

Data received from Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) member countries reveal that tourist arrivals to the region in 2020 fell to just over 11 million, a declined of 65.5 per cent when compared to the record 32.0 million tourist visits in 2019. Still, this was better than the world average of 73.9 per cent decline during the same period.

This lower rate of decline in the region can be attributed to two key factors: a significant portion of the Caribbean’s winter season (January to mid-March 2020) saw average levels of tourist arrivals when compared to 2019, and the fact that the main (summer) season in other regions coincided with the period where there was normally very limited international travel.

A period of virtually no tourism began in mid-March – the second quarter was the worst-performing with arrivals down by 97.3 per cent. But tourists began visiting again in June as the sector began to reopen.  Still, the fall-off in stayover arrivals continued through to September – when a gradual reversal began –  and continued right up to December. Destination initiatives such as the long-stay work programmes, other promotional activities and efforts of regional organisations such as the CTO, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and the Caribbean Public Health agency, contributed to the gradual rise in arrivals.

Cruise

Like stayover arrivals, cruise was buoyed by the performance in the first three months of 2020, particularly the month of February, when there was a 4.2 per cent rise in visits. However, a 20.1 per cent fall in the first quarter was followed by no activity for the remainder of the year as ships remained non-operational. The overall result was a 72 per cent slide to 8.5 million cruise visits, when compared to the 30 million visits in 2019.

Visitor Expenditure

The limited travel beyond the first two-and-a-half months of the year, resulted in difficulties in compiling visitor expenditure numbers in 2020. However, based on information derived from international partners such as the UNWTO, and the limited reporting by Caribbean countries,  we estimate that across the region visitor expenditure declined by 60 to 80 per cent, in line with the decline in stayover and cruise arrivals.

Preliminary data indicates that the average length of stay for 2020 remained at roughly seven nights, the same as in in 2019.

Forecast

The Caribbean’s performance in 2021 will depend largely on the success of the authorities in the marketplace and the region in combatting, containing and controlling the virus. Already, there are some encouraging signs like the vaccine roll-out taking place in North America, Europe and the Caribbean.

However, this must be tempered by some other factors such as: lockdowns in our key source markets which are expected to continue into the second quarter,  international travel confidence not expected  to pick up until the summer 2021,  a steep fall in the number of people planning to travel abroad and the possible requirement by the authorities in our key markets for their citizens to vaccinate before travelling abroad.

With these factors taken into consideration, our initial forecast is for a 20 per cent rise in arrivals in 2021, with a similar increase in visitor expenditure, when compared to 2020.

Posted in: 2021 News, Blog, Corporate News

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“Under The Volcano” Selected To Make World Premiere At SXSW

Brades, Montserrat – March 9, 2021 – Australian feature documentary, Under The Volcano, has been selected to make its world premiere at South by Southwest (SXSW), which is being held March 16 – 20, 2021. “This is truly an exciting time for the destination and people of Monserrat,” noted Warren Solomon, Director of Tourism for the Montserrat Tourism Division. “Being able to showcase how a small island in the Caribbean, with a larger-than-life impact, influenced and shaped the music industry on a global scale, is a proud moment for us all and one we are happy to see brought back into focus after so many years.” The film is directed by Gracie Otto and produced by Cody Greenwood of Rush Films.

Under the Volcano charts the rise and fall of AIR Studios Montserrat, the recording studio at the centre of the pop universe in the 1980s. Built by Beatles’ producer Sir George Martin in 1979, AIR Studios Montserrat was a custom-built, state-of-the-art recording facility tucked away on a Caribbean paradise. In the shadow of an active volcano, the studio not only attracted the biggest musical talent on the planet, but was the birthplace of mega-hits such as that defined the sound of the 80s. For a decade, AIR Montserrat formed the backdrop to monumental events in music history including the break-up of The Police, the reunion of The Rolling Stones, and the reinvigoration of Paul McCartney after the tragic murder of John Lennon. After a decade of hits, and at the peak of its popularity, the studio was destroyed when the island was hit by a series of devastating natural disasters.

Cody Greenwood – ‘We are thrilled to be included alongside a stellar line-up of local and international films at SXSW. The festival is universally recognized for its music documentaries, so to have Under The Volcano premiere at this festival is a huge honour. Our whole team worked tremendously hard to pull the film together and I can’t wait for it to be shared with audiences’. The documentary is a celebration of the creative process, and tells the story of the world’s most iconic recording artists including The Police, Paul McCartney, Duran Duran, The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Earth Wind and Fire and Dire Straits. The film features interviews from the likes of Sting and Mark Knopfler, as well as personal archive from artists such as Sir Paul McCartney and Stewart Copeland.

Like many other festivals, SXSW is moving digital this year and will take place March 16 – 20, 2021. Featuring provocative dramas and documentaries, the SXSW Film Festival has become known for the high calibre and diversity of films presented.

SXSW is universally recognized for its music festival so it’s not a surprise that the film program each year showcases films that pay homage to musicians. There’s an entire category dedicated to these films called ’24 Beats Per Second’ and Under The Volcano will be playing as part of this section of the festival.

Featured speakers for the SXSW 2021 line-up include Sir Richard Branson, Matthew McConaughey, Nicholas Britell, Dave Burd (aka Lil Dicky), The Chainsmokers, Samantha Bee, Chiquis, Laurieann Gibson, Taraji P. Henson, Barry Jenkins, Queen Latifah and LL COOL J.

Gracie Otto – ‘I’ve always been fascinated by the inner workings of creative artists and the artistic process. Even more so whilst researching and interviewing some of the greatest recording artists of our time for this film. Collectively they have created an unprecedented body of work behind the closed doors of AIR Studios and documenting this process was a pure joy. The significance of AIR Studios and its isolation feels even more timely given the current state of the world. We are so excited to share this film with audiences during SXSW.’

Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said, “Under The Volcano has found a perfect stage at SXSW for its world premiere. Brought to the big screen by a standout Australian creative team, including director, Gracie Otto and producer, Cody Greenwood, Under The Volcano celebrates global hit-makers of the 1980s and the hits that continue to be enjoyed and inspire audiences today.”

Under The Volcano is a Rush Films production. Principal production funding from Screen Australia, in association with Screenwest. Financed with support from Screen NSW.

Posted in: 2021 News, Blog, Destination News

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“From The Bahamas With Love” Welcomed Over 1000 Romance Seekers

NASSAU, Bahamas, March 11, 2021 – Yesterday, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation (BMOTA) held a Virtual Romance Expo for consumers from all over North America. This remarkable evening featured speakers, networking booths and many other activities illustrating romance for the attendees. The show was abuzz with people from all walks of life, who wanted a taste of The Bahamas from their home. With over 1000 virtual attendees from all over Canada and the U.S., the Virtual Romance Expo gave couples a unique opportunity to understand what The Islands of The Bahamas offer as a romantic destination.

The “From The Bahamas With Love” event was attended by soon-to-be engaged or recently engaged couples, future brides and grooms, bachelorette party planners, honeymoon do-over seekers and more. They were also the first to view and download the BMOTA’s hot-off-the-press “From The Bahamas With Love” Magazine, a 100-page comprehensive online guide to planning weddings, honeymoons and romantic getaways in The Bahamas.   Anyone who was not able to attend the show will have access to the recorded sessions for 30 days (click here for access).

We wanted to reassure those looking for a romantic getaway that The Bahamas is here for you and waiting,” commented Joy Jibrilu, Director General of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation.  “The romance expo ’From The Bahamas With Love’ was a virtual one-stop-shop for all the information needed to plan weddings or honeymoons in The Bahamas.  We were indeed pleased and proud of the successful trade event held last week and the phenomenal interest by consumers last night.  Given the success of this show, we are excited and committed to bringing this show back next year and to show you why It’s Better in The Bahamas.”

The guest speakers of the evening were highly renowned local and international experts in the romance industry. The discussion topics ranged from arranging the perfect wedding, bachelorette and romantic getaways to perfecting a destination proposal. The show also featured the love stories of Sherry and Roth Johnson (USA) and Olivia and Robert Surgeoner (CAN). These couples shared their experiences of why The Bahamas was the perfect destination for their romantic celebration. The popular “Selfie Booth” allowed brides to send snapshots to friends and family, and couples were able to attend a virtual fashion show and cooking demonstrations.

The Bahamas is one of the world’s leading destinations for weddings and honeymoons, and romance is a significant segment of Bahamas tourism. In the three years preceding the pandemic, The Bahamas annually saw over 67,000 visitors traveling for weddings, honeymoons, engagements or an unforgettable getaway for two. The global romance market brought in an estimated $415 million in revenue in 2019. The impact from canceled and postponed events due to the pandemic in 2020 has undoubtedly had a great effect on destinations across the world.

Posted in: 2021 News, Blog, Destination News

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Grenada Partners with ARC+ Rally as Caribbean Destination for 2021 Fleet

St. George’s, Grenada W.I. – 8th March, 2021 – Pure Grenada, the Spice of the Caribbean is proud to partner with the World Cruising Club to host the 9th annual ARC+ rally this year. This world class sailing event is already fully booked with 100 boats set to depart Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on Sunday 7th November to Grenada’s beautiful Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina. The event in Grenada will allow for a more relaxed enjoyable experience with greater camaraderie for the arriving crews, as well as diverse experiences to choose from.

Speaking about the partnership with year-round sailing destination Grenada, Managing Director of World Cruising Club Andrew Bishop commented, “We are delighted to be working with the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) and Camper and Nicholson’s Port Louis Marina to give the ARC+ participants an exciting Caribbean arrival experience, and to bring the fleet together for the first time. We also hope that those crews that head northwards after their arrival will be able to explore Grenada and enjoy some of the best cruising in the Caribbean as they head north.”

Grenada and Carriacou offer fully equipped marinas, boatyards, and stunning inlets and coves for relaxed stays. Coupled with its unmatched beauty and position as the gateway to the Grenadines, it is the perfect yachting destination. GTA Chairman Barry Collymore believes the ARC+ partnership signals to the world that Grenada is open and rebounding, ready to welcome visitors in a safe environment.

Promising a warm welcome to the transatlantic sailors, Grenada’s Minister for Tourism,Civil Aviation, Climate Resilience and the Environment, Hon. Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen commented “Grenada is excited to host this established world class yachting event whilst observing thorough health and safety protocols. As the Caribbean’s mecca of spices and home to the world’s first Underwater Sculpture Park, we look forward to welcoming the participants to experience our authentic culture, mouth-watering cuisine, unspoiled natural beauty and splash of adventure.”

Charlotte Fairhead, Marina Manager at Port Louis Marina said, “We are delighted to be the host venue for this year’s ARC+, a globally recognised sailing event. Our marina has recently undergone a fantastic renovation, with extra facilities for an additional 90 new berths, ranging from 12 metres – 22 metres. This enables us to be a premium destination to host international sailing events. We are so excited to welcome the ARC+ and look forward to all of the participants feeling at home at Port Louis Marina for the forthcoming season.”

The entire rally runs for five weeks with crews arriving in Grenada expected to make landfall at Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina from the 1st-6th December. The rally will conclude with the prizegiving ceremony on 9th December, 2021. For more information about Grenada, visit www.puregrenada.com.

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