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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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Remarks by CTO Chair, Dionisio D’Aguilar Chairman, at WTM News Conference, November 2017

The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens has been quoted so much over the years that it has become somewhat of a cliché. However, in the present context, it is a most appropriate cliché for our circumstances as the Caribbean has witnessed the proverbial tale of two cities during the past ten months or so. We had the best of times, with record performances in the first half of 2017, and for some of our member countries, and by extension the region, the worst of times with the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria.

We began the year growing at a healthy pace of 5.2 per cent between January and June, when compared to the same period last year. This was ahead of the growth rate of 2.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent which had been our forecast and was a reflection of economic stability in the market, expansion and inauguration of flights by major carriers and new marketing and product development initiatives.

During this period the region recorded 16.6 million international tourist arrivals, some 800 thousand more than in the first six months of 2016. Growth was recorded in all major source markets except South America, which contracted by 14.3 per cent.  Up to June, the European market had grown by 7.9 per cent, Canada by 6.4 per cent, and despite the weak sterling, the UK grew by 4.8 per cent.

In the hotel industry, the half-year outcomes reported by STR Global showed that average occupancy increased marginally by 0.2 percentage points to 70.8 per cent, while the average daily room rate rose slightly by 0.2 per cent, moving from US$220.84 in 2016 to US$221.38 in 2017.

Growth in the cruise sector also remained positive and stronger than the expected performance in the first half of the year. At the end of the first six months of 2017, cruise passenger arrivals to the Caribbean region had reached an estimated 15.3 million, up four per cent over the corresponding period of 2016. This performance represented the largest number of cruise passengers in the region at this time of year.

Then came the hurricanes – first, Irma, then Maria – that inflicted such damage on some of our member countries, causing such despair!

There has been widespread coverage of the damage caused to these countries and territories, the most serious   among them being Anguilla, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Puerto Rico, both Dutch and French Saint Martin and the US Virgin Islands. Understandably, this triggered a slowdown, with travel to many of these destinations having been severely impacted. Consequently, we have revised our forecast for 2017 to between one and two per cent, with a similar growth rate projected for next year.

This is expected to have a significant economic impact, based on predictions by the Caribbean Development Bank; according to the CDB  every one per cent reduction in tourist arrivals could cost US$137 million in lost revenue. Our revised forecast is based on a number of factors, including figures provided by CTO’s partner, OAG, the air travel data provider based here in the UK. Data based on schedules that were provided to OAG by the airlines showed that in October the number of flights to the region fell by 6.7 per cent, while seat capacity contracted by 4.1 per cent.

Among the worst hit destinations, the frequency of flights to Puerto Rico decreased by 25.1 per cent, Dominica by 13.7 per cent, St. Maarten by 12 per cent, the British Virgin Islands by 11.2 per cent, Anguilla by 6.3 per cent and the  US Virgin Islands  by 5.6 per cent.  Seat capacity to all of these destinations was consequently adversely affected with St. Maarten experiencing a near 50 per cent falloff.

Some of these reductions were influenced by Hurricane Harvey, which hit the US mainland, but most were a direct result of Irma and Maria.

It must be noted, however, that Cuba’s capacity grew by 10 per cent despite changes to the schedule. The new services from the US are a major influence on this performance. The largest of the carriers based in the region, Caribbean Airlines and LIAT, both registered declines in capacity, with LIAT falling by 21.3 per cent and Caribbean Airlines by 9.5 per cent. However, overall, air capacity in the region grew by five per cent for the first nine months of 2017 when compared to the same period last year.

As for post-hurricane tourist arrivals, it is still too early to tell, since the October numbers are not yet in. However, with several of the key cruise destinations, including Puerto Rico, St. Maarten and the US Virgin Islands recovering from the impact of the hurricanes, cruise lines made changes to their itineraries  to include alternative regional ports which remained open.

These redeployments have benefited countries such as Curacao, which registered a 138.3 per cent rise in cruise passenger arrivals in September, Jamaica (54.1 per cent), the Cayman Islands and Grenada.

You would have noticed that we predict growth in tourist arrivals this year, albeit slower than expected, which could still mean new record performance for the Caribbean despite the storms. This is mainly due to the fact that some 75 per cent of the Caribbean was unscathed by the hurricanes and continued to welcome visitors.

And, if we are to return to Dickens, there is prodigious strength in sorrow and despair, as a brilliant people rise from this destruction and devastation, with the fighting spirit of the people of the Caribbean, ready to rebuild stronger and more sustainably than before.

Already, virtually all of the affected countries are reporting that they are open again for business, although not at full capacity, with every one of them planning some sort of event either later this year or early next year.

A separate document will be presented to you outlining the state of readiness of these countries.

Thank you all for coming and for helping spread the word that the Caribbean is open for business, and for reminding everyone that the best way to help the Caribbean is to travel to the Caribbean.

 

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Caribbean Recovery

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Statement by Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism on UNWTO Initiative to Assist in Caribbean Recovery

KINGSTON, Jamaica (4 October, 2017) – Jamaica continues to extend our thoughts and prayers to our Caribbean brothers and sisters, especially residents in those islands that took a direct hit from the recent hurricanes and to everyone who has been or will be affected as a result of these catastrophic storms.

We recognize that the entire Caribbean region will be adversely impacted by the lasting results of Hurricanes Irma and Maria and have set a course of action that is designed to minimize the long-term effect on the region.

We acknowledge, with thanks, receipt from the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), in conjunction with the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), the periodic status reports issued in cooperation with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), and applaud the efforts at assisting the region and ensuring that timely and accurate information is disseminated.

We are aware that CTO and CDEMA technical teams have been on the ground in the various islands doing rapid needs assessments and coordinating with the national authorities in managing the various interventions, to mitigate the pain and hardships that are so pervasive at this time.

As a direct result of these unprecedented hurricanes, a meeting was convened by the World Tourism Organization – the United Nations specialised agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism (UNWTO) – at the General Assembly in Chengdu, China on 13 September, 2017. There were some 10 countries from the Caribbean and Latin America represented at the meeting – Bahamas, Barbados, Colombia, Costa, Cuba, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela – in addition to representatives from the USA, France, Spain, the Netherlands, the UNWTO and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). Trinidad and Tobago, a Caribbean member of the UNWTO, was absent from the general assembly.

The outcome of that meeting was a decision to assist in the Caribbean natural disaster risk management and response initiatives and to include in the programme for the UNWTO, Government of Jamaica and World Bank Group Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism in Montego Bay, Jamaica from 27-29 November, an opportunity for all interested parties to discuss and implement a plan of action.

As a proud host of this important global summit, Jamaica is honoured that the UNWTO has asked that I coordinate its involvement in this recovery effort for the region. The first step therefore was to reach out to the regional tourism organizations – CTO, CHTA and CDEMA – to brainstorm opportunities for collaboration.

Along with representatives of CTO and CHTA, we discussed how the CTO’s State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) taking place in Grenada on 10 -13 October could feed into the special session in Jamaica, and that a document will emerge from SOTIC which will help to inform that session at the Jamaica/UNWTO summit.

The portion of the SOTIC conference which will inform discussion at the Jamaica/UNWTO event is the Recover & Rebuild session, scheduled for 12 October.

The Recover & Rebuild session will be an in-depth four-hour segment where we will hear from leading experts in disaster preparedness and mitigation, recovery, funding, airport development and maintenance, airlines, cruise lines, telecommunications and media, as well as representatives of the hotel sector and member countries that have experienced – and recovered from – major catastrophes.

Recover & Rebuild will focus on the economic cost of the disasters, including the potential impact on gross domestic product, employment, the cost to rebuild and the recovery time. Key recommendations emerging from Recover & Rebuild will form part of the comprehensive document which we believe will have industry-wide international significance.

We urge everyone in the travel, hospitality and tourism industry including airlines, airport managers, cruise lines, cruise port managers, hoteliers, tour operators, travel agents and my fellow Ministers and Directors of Tourism across the region, as well as in our source markets, especially those in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, to attend both the SOTIC in Grenada from 10 to 13 October and the UNWTO meeting in Montego Bay, Jamaica on 27-29 November. These two crucial events will help set the course for recovery and growth for all of us over the next year and shape the future of tourism for the Caribbean region.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Caribbean Recovery

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