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Caribbean Destinations Amplify Health and Safety Measures in Preparation for Upcoming Major Events

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (April 7, 2024) – As Caribbean destinations prepare to host major events, including vibrant festivals, carnivals, homecomings, and the highly anticipated International Cricket Council (ICC) Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup, tourism and public health stakeholders call on the region to remain diligent while reaffirming their commitment to health safety measures.

Amidst the excitement of these upcoming events, there is a unified push to recommit to essential health protocols and practices, ensuring the protection of employees and visitors alike. A vital element of this initiative is the expansion of the Caribbean Public Health Agency’s (CARPHA) Tourism Health Information System (THiS) to capture and respond immediately to negative health events. CARPHA is also building capacity in countries to encourage the widespread practice of food safety and to prevent and control the spread of infectious diseases in the hospitality sector.

This move builds on a decade of collaboration between health and tourism officials in the Caribbean. The partnership has laid the groundwork for the region’s swift recovery from the global COVID-19 pandemic declared by the World Health Organization over four years ago. This collaboration was formed through the Caribbean Tourism and Health Program (THP) in 2014, following a Memorandum of Understanding signed by CARPHA, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

The Caribbean’s successful navigation of the pandemic, marked by one of the lowest per capita COVID-19 rates and among the fastest recoveries worldwide in tourism and the economy, sets a strong foundation for rebuilding its events and group business segments. With groups and events accounting for over 20 percent of the region’s tourism business, ensuring a healthy environment is paramount to its success.

Nicola Madden Greig, President of CHTA, underscored the importance of “cohesive regional cooperation,” which was advanced during the pandemic. She said she had full confidence in the unified public-private sector approach to collaboration: “With the Caribbean being on such a positive growth trajectory, we cannot be complacent, and our efforts must be bolstered by a strong communications approach to continue to protect our residents and visitors while reaping the rewards of our resilient tourism industry.”

Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director of CARPHA, concurred, asserting, “Globally, we are witnessing a resurgence of diseases such as measles, dengue fever, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and noroviruses, while new COVID-19 variants continue to develop. As one of the world’s leading travel destinations, we must remain vigilant to protect our employees and visitors.”

Similarly, CTO’s Secretary General, Dona Regis-Prosper, stressed, “As we continue to welcome visitors to experience the Caribbean’s breathtaking natural beauty and vibrant cultural heritage, we must uphold our commitment to ensuring a healthy environment.”

Dr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the OECS, shared his commendation of the relaunch and stated, “The OECS is delighted to see the return of major events allowing residents and visitors to share in our authentic experiences, and is pleased to continue its partnership with CARPHA and other regional tourism organizations towards healthier, safer tourism.”

In support of these goals and response to recent health and safety concerns, CARPHA is redoubling its outreach to the tourism industry, offering training, online tools, and resources to enhance health safety protocols.

Dr. Lisa Indar, Director of the Surveillance Disease Prevention and Control Division and Head of the Regional Tourism and Health Program at CARPHA, noted, “This year, we have launched a robust outreach effort to urge all Caribbean tourism-related businesses to renew their commitments to health and safety, refresh their training and protocols, and participate in the highly effective Tourism and Health Information System (THiS), a confidential online knowledge, help center and reporting system, and other CARPHA trainings, all towards advancing a healthier safer tourism product.”

For more information about CARPHA’s training programs and THiS, visit https://carpha.org.

Posted in: 2024 News, Blog, Corporate News

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Celebrating Caribbean Tourism: Caribbean Week in New York, June 16-21, 2024

NEW YORK (April 5, 2024) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has announced the return of the much-anticipated Caribbean Week in New York, from June 16 to June 21, 2024.

“The CTO’s flagship event is returning to New York City with an exciting agenda that offers an immersive examination of the vibrant culture, innovative technology, and influential figures shaping the future of Caribbean tourism,” reported Dona Regis-Prosper, Secretary-General and CEO of the 25-member intergovernmental organization.

2024 marks a significant milestone for the CTO, celebrating its 35th anniversary under the theme “Connecting the Globe, Celebrating Diversity”.

Held during Caribbean-American Heritage Month, the week begins with a church service, setting a reflective and spiritual tone for the days ahead, during which delegates will dive into the evolving landscape of digital marketing technologies. The agenda includes the popular Caribbean Media Marketplace, the return of the Caribbean Media Awards, and a celebration of cricket, recognizing the region’s role as host of the ICC Men’s T20 Cricket World Cup.

Caribbean Week will cover the CTO’s business proceedings – including meetings of the Board of Directors and the Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism – and will put a spotlight on the work of the CTO Foundation and the recently launched Jean Holder Scholarship. A special session on artificial intelligence will underscore the organization’s commitment to innovation.

Women’s empowerment will be at the forefront with a leadership breakfast and awards ceremony, coupled with a Juneteenth commemoration to honor the contributions and resilience of, and synergies between the African American community and the Caribbean Diaspora. In addition to featured discussions around the airline and cruise industries, attendees will benefit from educational sessions on sales strategies and media engagement.

CTO Chairman Kenneth Bryan is enthusiastic about the upcoming event: “Caribbean Week in New York isn’t just an event; it’s a landmark engagement to celebrate the Caribbean’s vibrant, diverse and resilient spirit. As we celebrate our 35th anniversary, we’re especially excited to highlight the innovative strides we’re making in digital marketing, AI, and women’s empowerment. I am also pleased to see the return of the Caribbean Media Awards. This week is an incredible opportunity to showcase the Caribbean, not only as a premier tourist destination, but as a region of forward-thinkers and cultural ambassadors.”

Posted in: 2024 News, Blog, Caribbean Week

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Adam Stewart of Sandals Resorts to Deliver Keynote at CTO’s Sustainable Tourism Conference in Grenada

BARBADOS (April 3, 2024) – Adam Stewart, Executive Chairman of Sandals Resorts International, will keynote the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Sustainable Tourism Conference, which will take place in St. George’s, Grenada, from April 22 to 24, 2024. The pivotal conference, produced in partnership with the Grenada Tourism Authority, will explore the 5 Ps – People, Planet, Prosperity, Purpose and Partnership, with the aim of catalyzing transformative action towards a more resilient, inclusive and sustainable future for Caribbean tourism.

An industry pioneer and staunch advocate for sustainable tourism, Adam Stewart brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in sustainable development, community-focused tourism, and responsible tourism practices to the conference. As President of the Sandals Foundation, Stewart is deeply committed to enhancing the Caribbean community’s future. Additionally, his role as chair of Jamaica’s Tourism Linkages Council underscores his dedication to boosting local supplier capacity and competitiveness, ensuring the broader benefits of tourism work for all.

“We are honored to have Adam Stewart, a globally respected thought leader, as our keynote speaker for the Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development,” said Dona Regis-Prosper, CTO’s Secretary-General and CEO. “His commitment to sustainability and his dedication to the Caribbean make him the ideal choice to inspire our delegates and drive the discussion on advancing sustainable tourism in the region.”

For decades, Sandals Resorts International has led by example in sustainable tourism, spearheading various initiatives through the Sandals Foundation to support community-based environmental projects. These efforts range from marine conservation to education and the preservation of natural resources.

“We are certain that Mr. Stewart’s words will challenge attendees to leave with the unwavering commitment to integrating sustainable practices into their operations, enhancing destination resilience, and positively impacting local communities,” underscores Petra Roach, Chief Executive Officer of the Grenada Tourism Authority. “As we continue to prioritize these sustainable values, it is imperative that our region puts forward meaningful action that will benefit the Caribbean for generations to come.”

The conference, sponsored by interCaribbean Airways, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Silversands Grenada, aims to provide a collaborative platform for industry leaders, policymakers and experts to tackle the environmental, social and economic challenges facing the Caribbean region. Attendees will leave with actionable insights on integrating sustainable practices into their operations, enhancing destination resilience, and positively impacting local communities.

For further information on the conference and registration details, visit caribbeanstc.com. To learn more about the Grenada Tourism Authority, visit www.puregrenada.com

Posted in: 2024 News, Blog, STC

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Caribbean Tourism Experiences Strong Growth in 2023, Recovery to Continue into 2024

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (March 15, 2024) – Continuing its positive recovery trend, Caribbean tourism grew in 2023 with an estimated 14.3% increase in international stay-over arrivals to the region, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has reported.

Delivering the “Caribbean Tourism Performance Review 2023” in Bridgetown today, Dona Regis-Prosper, Secretary-General of the CTO, shared that last year’s growth was in line with CTO’s forecast for the year, and attributed the outcome to sustained demand for outbound travel from the United States – the Caribbean’s main source market, enhanced tourism-related infrastructure within the destinations, the fulfillment of strategic marketing initiatives, and augmented airlift capacity between the region and its source markets, albeit unevenly distributed among the destinations.

The recovery of global tourism has been resilient, despite variability in the regional performances, according to Regis-Prosper, with the Caribbean surpassing pre-pandemic arrivals by a modest 0.8%, outperforming most of the main global regions in terms of recovery.

“Based on preliminary data provided so far by the destinations in the Caribbean, tourist visits were approximately 32.2 million – about four million more than in 2022,” stated Regis-Prosper, who noted that the data showed that each month’s arrivals exceeded those of 2022 thus establishing a continuous growth trend over the past 33 months as tourism steadily rebounded toward pre-pandemic levels.

Arrival levels amongst Caribbean destinations either significantly recovered or moderately exceeded the benchmark numbers of 2019, with 11 destinations, Anguilla, Aruba, Curaçao, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, Turks & Caicos Islands, and U.S. Virgin Islands performing better than in 2019. The majority of those recovered greater than 50% of their 2019 arrivals. In addition, multiple destinations registered new record levels for tourist arrivals in a single year.

United States and Canada Markets

For the Caribbean, only the U.S. market has fully recovered, while the recovery rates of arrivals from Europe and Canada reached 88.2% and 88.1%, respectively. An estimated 16.3 million stay-over arrivals to the region came from the United States, representing an annual growth rate of 12.7%. The performance here established a new record level of arrivals from this market and surpassed the pre-pandemic arrivals by 4.2%. The performance of the Canadian market resulted in an estimated three million Canadian tourist visits by the end of the year, an increase of 46.1% compared to 2022. Increased air service from major Canadian cities to Caribbean destinations played a pivotal role in driving up visitor numbers.

Europe, Caribbean and South America Markets

Regis-Prosper noted that arrivals from Europe to the Caribbean region were stagnant in 2023. A total of approximately 5.2 million trips originated from the market. In 2023, travel among Caribbean residents to destinations within the region increased by approximately 3.6%, a total of 1.6 million trips, which was 0.3 million more compared to 2022. This also indicated a recovery of 62.5% from pre-pandemic levels. “Despite this positive outcome, intra-regional travel remained expensive due to fragmented air service and reduced air capacity,” said Regis-Prosper. By the end of the year, trips from South America to the region surged by an estimated 14%, totaling 1.7 million trips.

Caribbean Hotel Performance

The Caribbean hotel sector experienced a remarkable turnaround in 2023, including a surge in the establishment of new hotels and resorts. According to STR, throughout the Caribbean, average room occupancy grew to 65.6% in 2023 from 61% in 2022. The average daily rate (ADR) experienced a considerable increase of 11.8% with the region’s ADR reaching US$329.37 while the revenue per available room (RevPAR) jumped 20.2% to US$215.97.

Cruise Tourism Performance

Preliminary data for 2023 showed that Caribbean destinations received an estimated 31.1 million cruise visits, reflecting an increase of 11.3 million visits or 56.8% compared to 2019. This level established a new record for the regional cruise sector, surpassing the previous record of 2019 by 2.4%. Pent-up demand and the resumption of operations drove strong bookings for Caribbean cruises, along with improvements in cruise infrastructure such as larger ships, enhanced facilities, itineraries, and shore excursions.

Projections indicate that the cruise sector will continue its upward track, with an estimated 34.2 million to 35.8 million cruise visits expected in the Caribbean in 2024. This anticipated expansion falls within the range of 10% and 15%.

Remarkable Resilience

Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism, Kenneth Bryan, who also serves as the Cayman Islands’ Minister of Tourism and Ports, noted the remarkable resilience of the tourism industry and its ongoing recovery and growth in 2023. However, he emphasized that the industry and the region will continue to face an array of challenges, including the high cost of travel, ongoing conflicts, heightened geopolitical tensions, and their anticipated impacts, in 2024.

“Caribbean destinations remain adaptable and responsive, and the region is still highly desired by travelers for its safety and diversity of tourism products,” stated Chairman Bryan, adding that the region will also be positively impacted by key developments in 2024, including increased air capacity throughout the year, which will facilitate greater access between the destinations and some of their legacy and emerging markets.

Chairman Bryan also pointed to “intensive strategic marketing initiatives” that are being executed to attract visitors to the region to enjoy its culture and heritage, including its carnivals and festivals.

He noted that the CTO is pleased that the ICC (International Cricket Council) Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 is being hosted in several destinations bringing not only teams but also their loyal followers to the region and further raising awareness and promoting the diverse offerings of Caribbean destinations to global audiences.

“Hence, the Caribbean’s prospects appear highly promising, with more regional destinations poised to either match or surpass the arrival figures recorded in 2019. Anticipated growth is forecast to range between five percent and 10 percent, potentially welcoming between 33.8 million and 35.4 million stay-over tourists,” concluded Chairman Bryan.

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CTO to Spotlight the Caribbean at Routes Americas 2024 in Bogotá

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (March 13, 2024) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is poised to positively impact the Routes Americas in Bogotá, Colombia, next week. This premier air service development forum uniting the Americas brings together senior decision-makers from the region’s leading airlines, airports and other tourism and aviation stakeholders.

The CTO delegation, led by Secretary-General and CEO Dona Regis-Prosper and Faye Gill, Director of Membership Services, will attend at the CORFERIAS business and exhibition center from March 19 to 21, 2024.

“In an era where connectivity is the driving force behind recovery and progress, our participation in Routes Americas is a significant step for the Caribbean. It’s a platform that allows us to amplify our presence and forge essential partnerships within the global aviation ecosystem,” emphasized Regis-Prosper. “This is a part and parcel of our continued commitment to enhancing the region’s visibility and fostering meaningful interactions that pave the way for more connections to and within the Caribbean.”

In anticipation of Routes Americas, CTO, in collaboration with Airport Strategy & Marketing (ASM), recently hosted a groundbreaking two-day training event in Barbados on airline route development titled “Aviation Marketing, Incentives & Negotiation”. According to Regis-Prosper, this initiative signifies a crucial step in the organization’s strategy to enhance air access to and from the Caribbean.

Throughout next week’s three-day event in South America, delegates will engage in an immersive program featuring face-to-face meetings, networking opportunities, and access to exclusive industry insights.

A highlight of the event is the Caribbean-focused panel discussion “Aviation Competitiveness in the Caribbean”, scheduled for Tuesday, March 19, from 2:35 pm to 3:20 pm. Panelists include Kenneth Romer (Deputy Director General, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments and Aviation); Trevor Sadler (CEO, interCaribbean Airways); Hans van de Velde (CEO, Windward Islands Airways International – WINAIR); Rafael Echevarne (Director General Latin America & Caribbean, Airports Council International – ACI); and Peter Cerdá (Regional Vice President, The Americas, IATA), with David Appleby (Director, ASM) moderating.

This session will explore the competitive landscape of the Caribbean aviation sector, highlighting efforts to boost air connectivity within the region and to emerging markets in South America and Europe. Despite challenges of several destinations recovering to pre-2019 levels of flight frequencies and seat availability, the discussion promises to uncover strategic approaches toward financial and traffic resurgence and explore new growth avenues in the aviation sector.

During the conference, the CTO team will meet with its members and airline partners. The CTO’s Caribbean-themed booth will be located at Stand S24.

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