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Strong 4th Quarter Performance Signals Tourism Recovery

Roseau, Dominica – (February 01, 2019) The months of October to December 2018 produced arrivals of 22,178 from all source markets, representing 35.3 % of total stay-over arrivals for the year which stood at 62, 828. This is an increase of 95% over the same period in 2017. Increases were registered at 91%, 113% and 78% respectively during the last three months of the year compared to 2017.

The quarter also represents a marginal increase of 0.9% over the same period in 2016. November 2018 was the first month to show an increase over the same month in 2016, with an increase of 15.6 % over November 2016. Arrivals amounted to 5,271 which is the highest arrivals for that month over the past 12 years of reported data, representing a record for the destination in that regard. December figures showed that the upswing continued, registering a 6.7 % increase over December 2016 arrivals.

The year-end figure of 62, 828 visitor arrivals, represents a 13% decline over 2017 figures of 72, 228. This performance surpassed the projections given for countries which had suffered a natural disaster of the magnitude of Hurricane Maria during the previous year, as expected declines are normally in the vicinity of 30%. In addition, the 2018 numbers represent only a 20% decline over 2016 arrivals which is also of significance.

The focus of DDA’s marketing and product development efforts for the past year was to provide current information on available product and communicate pertinent updates to all relevant publics.

Timely updates on the destination’s positive recovery efforts and stories of optimism were communicated to all relevant publics, internal and external to Dominica. Vicky Chandler, DDA’s Destination Marketing Manager indicates “We embarked on an aggressive communications strategy which saw the development of a separate website specific to destination updates; awareness and discount campaigns and a concerted effort in our Press outreach globally, hosting media from all of our main source markets and communicating outward via social, digital and print media to potential consumers as well as to our travel trade network.”

The cruise season was modified as a result of the passage of Hurricane Maria resulting in an 88% decline in arrivals in the first 6 months of 2018 vs same period in 2017.   However, there was a major improvement in cruise arrivals during the last two (2) months of the year.  The destination also recorded Cruise visitor arrivals in July, August, & September for the first time in 5 years which contributed to a total of 134,469 arrivals in 2018, a 14.4%  decline over 2017 (154,040).”

Minister for Tourism and Culture, Hon. Robert Tonge opines, “These figures are the direct result of the cumulative efforts of Team Dominica in many different aspects of the destination’s recovery. The government’s investment in site rehabilitation and enhancements along with the celebratory season which started with the exciting WCMF in October, through to Reunion and the 40th Anniversary of Independence in November were key drivers of interest among our loyal Diaspora market and friends of Dominica. The recorded figures augur well for the future of the industry and the people of Dominica on the whole.”

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, Caribbean Recovery, Destination News

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British Virgin Islands Continue to Achieve Recovery Milestones

TORTOLA, BVI — When Hurricane Irma tore through the Caribbean last September, it made a particularly harsh impact on the spectacular shores that 30,000 of my fellow BVIslanders and I call home.

But one year later, I am pleased to say that the Herculean efforts put forth by the local community, international volunteers and the BVI government have paid off. The beaches have been cleaned up, roads cleared, and visitors are flocking into the territory once again.

As the largest sector of the economy, restoring the BVI’s tourism product was a huge priority during the immediate aftermath of the storm. There is still work to be done, but we at the BVI Tourist Board are proud to recognize the progress made over the past year. The BVI Reborn video gives a glimpse into the progress of our recovery.

The charter yacht and sailing industry was the first to rebound, with some operators accepting guests as soon as November 2017 to jumpstart the winter season. Cruise calls resumed at Tortola Pier Park the following month, bringing in thousands more visitors. Disney Cruise Line made its return just days ago to much fanfare, and Norwegian Cruise Line will follow in Fall 2018. We are expecting a remarkable 2018/2019 cruise season with projections of over 200 calls and 400,000 passengers at Tortola Pier Park and Road Harbour alone.  Additionally, we expect over 50 calls by the smaller boutique ships, to other islands including; Anegada, Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda, demonstrating the diversity of our destination to accommodate cruise visitors.

To date, many of the BVI’s premier resorts have come back online as well. This includes: Scrub Island Resort & Spa, Cooper Island Beach Club, Guana Island Resort, Oil Nut Bay, Anegada Beach Club, and more. Visitors will enjoy enhanced offerings at several of these properties, including an expanded private beach at Scrub Island, and brand-new glamping accommodations at Anegada Beach Club. In fact, Anegada has emerged as a must-visit island thanks to its unique attractions like world-class kitesurfing, amazing conch shell mounds and iconic bright pink flamingos. The only coral island in the group, Anegada boasts the Caribbean’s third largest barrier reef, the Horseshoe Reef.

Oil Nut Bay has significantly upgraded its facilities, and this December, will be offering stunning new one-bedroom suites with nightly availability. A marina village with 93 slips that can accommodate yachts up to 40 meters, will also be opened in December.  The resort’s helipad which facilitates air arrivals along with the new facilities, will now give guests the freedom to explore neighboring islands, embarking by boat or helicopter, with ease.

As of August 15, there are 769 rooms on land and 2,930 berths available throughout the Territory. By winter season, that number will rise to over 1,000 rooms and 3,200 berths. Necker Island is scheduled to reopen on October 1st, with several of our luxury properties to follow in late 2019 including Bitter End Yacht Club and Rosewood Little Dix Bay.

Traveling to the BVI has never been easier. We have regained full capacity in terms of airlift and ferry service, with some airlines even expanding service between San Juan and Tortola.

Over the past several months, we have hosted major events like the annual BVI Spring Regatta and the Emancipation Festival, a celebration that highlighted our culture and resilience. This November, BVI Food Fete will return with a fantastic lineup of culinary events.

As we reflect on the lessons learned from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the BVI recognizes the need to plan for the future. The government successfully restored 100% of power across all of our islands by May 2018, while continuing efforts to strengthen our infrastructure in anticipation of future storms. Click here for information on the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Act.

There is also a new Disaster Alert App launched by the BVI Department of Disaster Management to improve disaster alert notifications for our residents and guests.

For those looking to offer their support to the BVI, the most vital way to help — as always — is by booking a trip and patronizing our local hotels and businesses. The Tourist Board will also continue running the Seeds of Love program to replant the islands’ indigenous trees and vegetation in Tortola, Virgin Gorda and other islands. Donations can be made here.

General donations for the territory are still welcome through the BVI Recovery Fund.

The BVI is grateful to all of the volunteers and “voluntourists” who have devoted time and energy to our recovery. We thank everyone for their passionate support, as the British Virgin Islands continue to progress, and we look forward to providing ongoing updates on the status of our cherished islands.

On September 6, the BVI Government will hold a “Service of Thanksgiving, Reflection and Restoration” on Tortola, while an interdenominational prayer service will be held on Virgin Gorda, recognizing our “Journey to Healing.”  #BVILove

About the British Virgin Islands

Known as a treasured destination rich in undiscovered experiences, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) is an alluring archipelago comprising 60 islands and cays located 80 kilometers (60 miles) east of Puerto Rico, in the northwestern region of the Caribbean Sea. The main islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke have attracted travelers globally with their cultural Caribbean authenticity. Located in Tortola, Road Town is the BVI’s capital.

Ranked #1 Best Place to Visit in the Caribbean by U.S. News for two consecutive years in 2017 and 2018, the BVI is where nature’s best secrets are kept with an abundance of pristine beaches, azure seas, towering sage mountains and burnt-orange sunsets. It’s no wonder the BVI’s Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke were featured on the “Top Islands in the Caribbean, Bermuda and the Bahamas” list in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards 2017 and 2018.

Despite its status as a United Kingdom territory, the BVI uses the U.S. dollar as its official currency.

The BVI Tourist Board invites everyone to experience the tropical mystique of the country’s unparalleled and enriching offerings. For more information, visit www.bvitourism.com.

Posted in: 2018 News, Caribbean Recovery, Destination News

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Dominica Continues Recovery Six Months after Hurricane Maria Hits Island

Roseau, Dominica – (March 20, 2018), March 18, 2018 marks six months since a powerful Category 5  hurricane slammed the island nation of  Dominica.  Six months following Hurricane M aria, Dominica has made major progress in restoring routes to and from the island, essential services and amenities, and transportation throughout the island.

“Nothing is better for our recovery from Hurricane Maria than visitors to our island,” says Colin Piper, CEO of the Discover Dominica Authority. “We have made significant progress in getting the island ready for guests. Whether it’s for a relaxing getaway, special event or meaningful travel, visitors will see the same vibrant spirit of our people and beautiful scenery and features that make Dominica the Nature Island of the Caribbean.”

Access

Dominica has full connectivity to international and regional markets with regular flights offered by regional carriers including LIAT, Seaborne Airlines, WINAIR, Air Sunshine, Coastal Express Carrier and, most recently, InterCaribbean Airways. As of March 22, 2018, InterCaribbean Airways will operate nonstop scheduled services between Dominica, St. Lucia and Tortola. Chartered flights are also available via Sky High Aviation Services, and Trans Island Air.

The Douglas Charles Airport, located at Melville Hall, and the Canefield Airport have welcomed passengers since October, 2017.  Connections are available to Barbados, Antigua, San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Tortola, St. Thomas, Anguilla, St. Lucia, St. Croix and St. Thomas.

Air access has been expanded with night landing available at Douglas Charles Airport until 8 p.m. for public flights and until 10 p.m. by special arrangement.

L’Express des Iles fast ferry service was operational within a few weeks after Hurricane Maria and provides service between Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique and St. Lucia. L’Express des Iles has partnered with Air Caraïbes to offer simultaneous airline and ferry bookings with connections to L’Express des Iles destinations.  Booking can be made on www.aircaraibes.com through the NavigAir programme.

Accommodations

A total of 393 hotel/guest house rooms are available.  This represents 41 percent of the total stock of 962 rooms available before Hurricane Maria.  Fort Young Hotel will open additional rooms and Secret Bay, Calibishie Cove and Citrus Creek Planation are expected to reopen in the last quarter of 2018.   Two additional properties, Jungle Bay Resort and Cabrits Resort Kempinski, are expected to open during the first half of 2019, and Anichi Resort late in 2019.  The opening of these three hotels will increase Dominica’s room stock by 340.

Sites and Attractions

The majority of sites and attractions, 19 of the 23 on the island, have been officially declared open to visitors.  These include the signature sites of Trafalgar Falls, Middleham Falls, Emerald Pool, Fresh Water Lake and the Indian River. Visitors can enjoy magnificent easy to moderate hikes across the island including, Syndicate Nature Trail, Cabrits/Fort Shirley and others. Diving tours are currently available with six dive operators offering dive tours at all of the key dive sites on the north, south and west coasts of the island. Divers can explore a world of incredible underwater vistas and discover why Dominica is ranked amongst the world’s top ten dive sites.

Voluntourism Packages

Dominica encourages visitors to get involved in meaningful tourism by considering a Voluntourism package. These unique packages are offered to assist Dominica with the cleanup of sites such as the Indian River, dive sites and the Waitukubuli National Trail.  Packages are being offered by the Tamarind Tree Hotel, Fort Young Hotel, Secret Bay, Cobra Tours, Cool Breeze Tours and Cabrits Dive.

Cruise Travel 

Before Hurricane Maria, Dominica was on course to receive 219 cruise calls during the 2017-2018 cruise season. This number has since been reduced to 34 calls and the country welcomed the first cruise vessel following the hurricane on December 28, 2017.  The Sea Cloud II anchored off Portsmouth and one month later, the MV Mein Schiff 3 of TUI cruises docked at the Roseau cruise ship berth.  Since then, the island has received an additional 16 cruise calls. Carnival Cruises is expected to make a total of five visits, commencing with three in July, 2018.

The people of Dominica continue to show their resilience and steadfastness in building a better Dominica. In mid-February, the country celebrated Carnival and plans are in motion for the 9th Annual Jazz ‘n Creole on May 20, 2018 at Fort Shirley in the Cabrits National Park, along with fringe events in Portsmouth on the weekend of the Jazz ‘n Creole main stage.

Plans are being made for World Creole Music Festival from October 26 -28, 2018 followed by the island’s 40th Anniversary of Independence celebration on November 3, 2018.

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: 2018 News, Blog, Caribbean Recovery, Destination News

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New Year’s Message from CTO Secretary General, Hugh Riley

Bridgetown, Barbados (28 Dec 2017) – This has been a challenging year for Caribbean tourism. While the first half of the year saw exciting growth in both tourism infrastructure and tourist arrivals over the previous year, in September we were hit hard by a series of unusual hurricanes that not only destroyed property, but also took the lives of many of our citizens. We must never forget the souls we lost along the way.

Physically, we will recover. Our Caribbean people are a resilient population. We will put the bricks and mortar back together and the hotels and vegetation will rise again and shine in the brilliant sunlight.

We take this time, a season of celebration and joy and the promise of a new beginning, to both reflect on the preceding year and look forward to tomorrow. And we will take the time to give thanks.

Travellers coming to the countries that were impacted by the storms will now see various stages of the rebuild/recover effort. Some are already fully up to speed and ready for the winter; others, only partially so. Our affected islands respect the safety and security of guests and staff and are therefore being frank and open about their state of readiness.

As tourism is the main economic driver for most of the Caribbean, we place enormous emphasis on delivering value and a superb visitor experience. In the hurricane-affected islands guests in 2018 and beyond will expect to see a product that is rebuilt stronger, better and even more attractive than before. That’s the plan, however long it takes to deliver.

We are thankful that the vast majority of the Caribbean never got touched by the hurricanes, so those islands have continued to welcome visitors every day. For them it’s business as usual. We are grateful to the travel professionals, the many visitors and our citizens themselves who continue to share images of the Caribbean today. Those pictures tell a thousand realities.

We want to use this time to thank our member countries that were quick to come to the aid of others not so fortunate. We want to thank our partners, the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, the airlines, cruise lines and the hotels across the region that have worked and are still working to bring the Caribbean back to normal operations. We want to thank our marketing and sales partners, the tour operators, wholesalers and travel agents from around the world who have stood by the region and continue to promote and sell our destinations. And we want to thank the media that have, for the most part, painted a proper picture of our region that is clearly open for business. Through it all, we are also eternally grateful to our visitors and to the Caribbean Diaspora who stand shoulder to shoulder with our region in times of need.

Even as we prepare to greet a New Year let us take a moment to look back on a few of the successes of 2017.

Recently we embarked on a strategy to substantially enhance the Caribbean’s engagement in Canada, to develop business in non-traditional areas and work closely with our members’ representatives for maximum impact. New travel agent training and certification, increased use of targeted social media, enhanced deployment of the CTO’s data analysis tools, and more focused engagement with the Caribbean Diaspora were all components of the 2017 strategy for Canada. The Canadian market was a strong performer for most of 2017, with arrivals up by 6.4 percent. We can now look forward to more expansion of that market in 2018.

We also continued to focus on our two primary markets, the United States and Europe, with the UK, in particular, taking a central role. These markets were more robust in 2017 and we trust this will continue in 2018.

We realized too, that intra-Caribbean tourism, which has also been on the rise, would need our continuous attention, especially under the current circumstances where the task of educating the travelling public and removing the barriers to intra-Caribbean travel will continue to be a challenge.

At the start of the year we declared 2017 the Year of Adventure in the Caribbean and we capitalized on this in multiple promotions with member countries and industry partners. The Caribbean Year of Adventure linked directly with the United Nations Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and allowed us to pair adventure with sustainability.

The year culminated with the World Tourism Organization holding its Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth, in Jamaica, followed by the CTO’s partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank to host the Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum in St. Kitts.

For the New Year the CTO has declared 2018 The Year of Rejuvenation in the Caribbean. With wellness and rejuvenation being important aspects of the Caribbean tourism product, we are encouraging our member countries and private sector partners to plan and organise events and activities around that theme.

For travellers who focus on renewing body and spirit, the options are virtually endless; from beachfront workouts and yoga retreats, to wellness resorts and spa treatments, the notion of being rejuvenated in the Caribbean is one more reason to let us pamper you in 2018.
The 2018 Caribbean Year of Rejuvenation will be promoted through social media and traditional media channels and will create opportunities for locals, travellers and holiday/vacation planners to share their ideas on how to capture the Caribbean’s huge capacity for wellness and rejuvenation. It will be a time of rebirth for us and for those who come to share the joy of a Caribbean vacation experience.

We look forward to 2018 with optimism and excitement.

On behalf of our CTO Chairman, The Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar, Bahamas Minister of Tourism, the CTO Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism, the Board of Directors, Members and Staff of the CTO, I thank you for your continued support of our region, and I wish you and yours a safe, peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Corporate News

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CTO S.G. Urges Support of Tourism for Caribbean Recovery at UNWTO Confab on Jobs, Growth

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (18 Dec, 2017) – Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the region’s tourism development agency, urged building upon the resilience of tourism and supporting Caribbean tourism to prepare, manage and recover from crises, to more than 1,500 participants at the Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism, held recently in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Mr. Riley called for exploring potential strategies for the tourism sector to plan for future preparation, management and recovery, specifically after the category five hurricanes that impacted a handful of member counties. He advised participants of the scope, size and resilience of the tourism sector and of the CTO, and highlighted CTO’s focus on sustainability and the depth and breadth of the relationships CTO has created, as well as the resources the organization makes available for CTO member countries.

The secretary general also urged establishing energy policies and observing protocols that improve the region’s climate resilience, effective disaster risk management and reduction, enforcing and maintaining proper building codes.

“It was truly an honour to present at this conference where the goal was centered on a new, collaborative framework for tourism, moving towards the 2030 agenda for sustainable development,” he said.

Addressing the topic of resilience, Mr. Riley shared the six areas of focus that the CTO considers essential to building support for Caribbean tourism: sustainable development, resource mobilization, brand leadership, research and market development, human capital development and advocacy.

“Resource mobilization should utilize available resources to sustain, develop, improve and rebuild,” he told the audience. “Rapid recovery of tourism is needed for debt reduction, employment and poverty alleviation, and to most especially to generate foreign exchange.”

Brand leadership should reinforce the value and attributes of the Caribbean brand, Mr. Riley noted. “We need to educate the public and the travel industry on the geography of the Caribbean,” he said, adding: “Every one per cent decline in arrivals could mean a significant loss of revenue.”

Regarding human capital development, the secretary general wants to train, re-train, certify and equip. But he was quick to add: “Being good hosts is not just the responsibility of a select few. As long as the region continues to boast that its people are its most sought after tourism asset, every citizen has a role.”

In closing, Mr. Riley urged the region to enlist champions among celebrities as well as public and private sector leaders. “Effective advocacy speaks powerfully to the issues that facilitate the development of travel and tourism globally,” he added.

In addition to his presentation, Mr. Riley moderated the “Caribbean Tourism within the Context of the Americas” session.

Organised by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Government of Jamaica, the World Bank Group and the Inter-American Development Bank, the global conference brought together world leaders from governments, the tourism industry, donors, and international development and finance organizations, to design and coordinate an international road map and foster collaborative relationships for inclusive economic and social development of tourism.

An official event of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017, the event gathered more than 1,500 participants and over 150 speakers to help identify successful models and initiatives of public-private partnerships that will contribute to sustainable tourism development globally. In order to achieve results, the conference yielded practical plans to guide future development initiatives including specific development protocols and opportunities related to the achievement of global partnerships for sustainable development.

For more information about the UNWTO Global Conference on Building Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism for Development, visit http://know.unwto.org/event/unwto-global-conference-building-partnerships-sustainable-tourism-development.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Corporate News

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CTO Investment Guide Distributed in Toronto and at Caribbean Business Events

TORONTO, Canada , 21 November, 2017 – The Caribbean Tourism and Hospitality Investment Guide, a bi-annual publication of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), was distributed during Caribbean Week in Toronto to Canadian entrepreneurs, business organizations and Diaspora leaders.

Caribbean Week activities in Toronto and Montreal run from November 10-17.

The Investment Guide showcases a wide range of investment opportunities in the tourism and hospitality sector in CTO member states and lists incentives that Caribbean Governments are offering to attract new business.

The publication was distributed at the recent Caribbean Hotel Investment Conference and Operations Summit (CHICOS) in Bermuda and is available to delegates at this week’s Miami Conference on the Caribbean organized by Caribbean Central American Action (CCAA).

Tourism Ministers from across the region and selected companies and business organizations received copies of the publication during Caribbean Week events in New York.

The publication includes information on the performance of the region’s tourism industry with highlights from the CTO Secretary General Hugh Riley and Acting Director of Research Ryan Skeete. It also provides an outlook for the region’s hotel sector.

The Investment Guide highlights new investments in the region’s tourism and hospitality sector including properties in The Bahamas, Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Grenada, Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cayman Islands.
“The Caribbean has a strong competitive advantage due to our natural and physical resources, and is ripe for new hotel and tourism infrastructure projects. There are opportunities for investments in airports, seaports and shopping centres, as well as unique tourism products such as outfitting heritage sites with modern technology and clean energy sources,” CTO Secretary General Hugh Riley said.

The Investment Guide is produced by Marketing, Communications and Investment Promotion Specialist, Sandra Ann Baptiste, who heads Florida-based Carigold Signature.

“CTO member countries are also seeking investment to expand the medical tourism and health and wellness sectors. There are investment opportunities for new restaurants and cafes, sports tourism facilities and new convention centers, yachting and marine services, new attractions, river and land transportation services, and to develop the creative industries,” Baptiste said in the editorial.

The Investment Guide is one of the projects of the New York-based CTO USA Inc. office headed by Sylma Brown Bramble.

The publication will be available on www.onecaribbean.org for a minimal fee.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Caribbean Week, Corporate News

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