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Archive for 2017 News

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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BTB Presents U.S. $59,934.00 Cheque to CTO As Contribution to “A Dollar for the Caribbean Relief Fund”

Belize City, Thursday, February 17th  2018:  The Belize Tourism Board (BTB), in collaboration with tourism industry stakeholders, raised U.S. $59, 934.00 (Bz $119,868.00) as part of the Dollar for the Caribbean Relief Fund campaign. The fund was created to assist victims of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which severely devastated many Caribbean countries in September last year.

This morning Ms. Karen Pike, BTB’s Director of Marketing and Industry Relations, presented the cheque to Mr. Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) during a virtual press conference hosted by CTO in Barbados.

In presenting the cheque, Ms. Pike said “when we got the news on the Caribbean Relief Fund Campaign, we embraced it immediately because it was not only the right thing to do, but also because it brought all of us in the Caribbean once again even closer together in a unified effort to assist those in need.” She added: “As part of the Dollar for the Caribbean Relief Fund Campaign, the BTB reached out to the entire country of Belize through the media, press releases, the BTB’s website and its news distribution network.”

In his response, the Secretary General said, “we thank you Belize on behalf of the entire Caribbean family.” During the press conference, an overview on the state of the tourism industry in the Caribbean was also presented.

As part of its Dollar for the Caribbean Relief Fund Campaign, each participating tourism stakeholder donated a $1 for every guest; the BTB then contributed by donating $1 for every tourist arrival for the month of October therefore, creating a multiplier effect. The BTB initiative was supported by the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), the Belize Hotel Association (BHA), Tropic Air, the Belize Airport Concession Company (BACC), Tour Operators, water taxis, and hoteliers amongst many others.

During the first week of September, category 5 Hurricane Irma pummeled a number of Caribbean countries in the northern Leeward Islands and the northern Caribbean leaving a long trail of devastation. Many residents of these countries were left homeless, without food, power, water and basic essentials.  Two weeks later, Hurricane Maria followed the same path further exacerbating the level of destruction throwing many of these countries in a severe state of despair. The Caribbean depends on tourism as their chief means of survival and the devastation by both hurricanes has stalled the economies of countries affected, which may take several months or perhaps years to recover.

The BTB  and the Belize tourism stakeholders are extremely pleased that they were able to make a contribution towards the Caribbean Relief Fund and take this opportunity to offer their heartfelt thanks to all Belizean stakeholders and  organizations that donated generously in order to ease the road to recovery for our Caribbean sister countries.

According to the CTO, approximately U.S. $135,000.00 was raised by the Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund Campaign.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Caribbean Recovery, Destination News

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Caribbean Relief Concert Featuring Dollarman, Th3rd, Scheduled Jan. 19 at Union Stage, Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, DC (17 Jan. 2018) – Members of the Caribbean community have planned the first annual live “Caribbean Relief Concert” to raise money for natural disaster relief efforts for those countries impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The concert is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, 19 January at Union Stage, 740 Water Street SW, Washington, D.C. Headline performers include Dollarman and Grammy-nominated artist Th3rd as well as Ras Slick & The Dutty Bus Crew with music by DJ Knightrin, DJ Mystic Vibes and DJ Majestic.

Tickets can be purchased via https://www.unionstage.com/event/1612541 and are $30 for General Admission (standing) and $50 for Premier Plus which offers reserved seats and tables in a raised area that offers great views of the performers. A full dinner and drinks menu is available.

All proceeds from ticket sales will be collected through the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Relief Fund (a 501 c3) via www.gofundme.com/hurricane-relief-fund-cto with monies raised being sent directly to CTO-impacted member states.

Dollarman is a force straight out of Brooklyn known for his dynamically gritty voice and innovative rhyme flow. He has been capturing his audience in a lyrical groove packed with rhythms and rhymes for over 15 years. Dollarman is the featured Dancehall artist on Rock This Party (Everybody Dance Now) produced by Bob Sinclar. The track went to number one on the Billboard Dance Chart in five weeks and won Dollarman a gold record for his vocals.

Leo Sibilly III, better known as the Th3rd, is a singer, songwriter, and music producer who was born and raised in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. He was Grammy nominated for Musiq Soul Child’s single, “I Do.”

The concert is organized by Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia, which is proud to be a founding partner of the Caribbean Relief Concert and will preview the 10th annual Events DC Embassy Chef Challenge, an International food competition that features the unique flavors of more than 40 embassies, including numerous Caribbean countries, in a friendly, delicious culinary competition.

In addition to Events DC, event sponsors include the Caribbean Tourism Organization, Knightrin, Hed + Rush Agency, Cutlass & Cane, Union Stage and Music Makes Life Better.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Caribbean Recovery

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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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Representatives of Hurricane-Battered Countries Share Invaluable First-Hand Information

From left to right: Angela Burnett, Environmental Officer (Climate Change), Ministry of Natural Resources and Labour, Government of the Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands; Roland Royer, Chief Technical Officer, Ministry of Tourism, Dominica; Gina Brooks, Tourism Planner, Ministry of Finance, Economic Development, Investment, Commerce &Tourism, Anguilla; Vashti Ramsey-Casimir, Senior Tourism Officer, Sustainable Tourism,  Ministry of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy, Antigua; Rolando Brison, Director of Tourism, St. Maarten Tourist Bureau; Brian Been, Senior Product Development Officer, Turks and Caicos Tourist Board

BASSETERRE, St Kitts (15 December 2017) Delegates attending the Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum (CSSTF) held this week heard some dramatic stories that demonstrated the resolve and resilience of the territories worst affected by the hurricanes Irma and Maria in September, during the Tourism Recovery roundtable at the Forum.

The discussion focused on four areas: destination access, supply capacity, marketing and public relations, and how destinations can get television coverage. It was one of the highlights of day two of the three-day conference.

The panel featured representatives from Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, St. Maarten and Turks and Caicos Islands.  It was hosted by the Forum’s keynote speaker, Gregory McKenzie and his twin brother, Michael, both of whom are BBC presenters and producers.

The countries’ representatives shared with the audience the national and international efforts following the storms, including how the countries worked closely with agencies on the ground to restore ports and tourist sites, as well as how partners in markets across the region and around the world assisted with raising funds and awareness of their situation. They also gave detailed updates on their room stock and general timelines for the re-opening of hotels.

The panellists were also able to speak about the channels being used to let others know that the countries are open for business and the ways in which they seek to manage visitor expectations.

The session’s hosts gave suggestions on approaches that could be adopted to improve the chances of media coverage on the various destinations, advising that the officials would first need to consider how to attract the particular audience’s attention to the story.

The McKenzie brothers recommended, as well, that the stories must be about people, and to build on those stories by creatively weaving in information about the territory, what it has to offer and how it aims to achieve sustainability.

In a true Caribbean fashion, the participants also used the Forum as a storytelling opportunity, sharing first-hand accounts of the devastation and recovery efforts that might not have fallen within the discussion areas. They also committed to keep providing the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) with regular updates to be shared with the wider public.

The roundtable was the latest effort by theCTO to provide avenues for impacted countries to disseminate detailed, first-hand accounts of their status, including the efforts to rebuild and reopen their countries.

In addition to being the hub for reliable information for both media and the general public before and after the storms, the CTO also facilitated the sharing of information on what was needed to recover and rebuild stronger by organising a special session at the State of the Tourism Industry Conference in Grenada last October.

A number of key entities and partners, including the Caribbean Development Bank, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, airlines, cruise lines, and telecommunications companies, shared invaluable details at that session.

“The CTO was both proactive and reactive in providing regular updates and granting interviews to virtually every major media outlet in our key markets during and after the hurricanes on a daily basis using information provided by official government sources from the destinations that were both adversely impacted as well as those that were spared any damage from the storms,” according to Hugh Riley, the secretary general.

“Our use of social media has been prolific. In addition, we worked closely with the private sector through our partner, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, to gather information from the hotels in order to properly inform all media which hotels were open and which facilities were damaged. In this way, a daily report was provided to the media with real-time information on the hotels and the destinations following the hurricanes.

“The roundtable at the Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum was one more such opportunity provided by the CTO as we continue to seek avenues to help all our member countries tell their stories. Of the six destinations on stage, three had been visited by us immediately after the hurricanes, so the details we were able to provide in those critical early stages were also first-hand accounts,” Mr. Riley explained.

The CSSTF, which was organised jointly with the St. Kitts ministry of tourism, was the region’s bespoke event in observance of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, themed, “Good for Use, Better for All”.

Read coverage of the Climate Smart Forum:

https://paxnews.com/news/other/ctos-climate-smart-sustainable-tourism-forum-addresses-link-between-consumers-and-climate-change

https://paxnews.com/news/other/special-report-roundup-caribbean-recovery-efforts

https://paxnews.com/news/tourism-board/cto-resilient-caribbean-key-fighting-climate-change

Posted in: 2017 News, Climate Smart Forum

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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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