CTO News

Archive for 2017 News

Grenada Born Social Justice Advocate Jean Augustine Honoured with CTO’s Highest Award

Jean Augustine (right) receives CTO Lifetime Achievement Award from CTO secretary general Hugh Riley (centre) while close friend Rita Cox (left) looks on.

 

Chef Raymond Chung (right) of Doubletree Hilton Downtown Toronto presents cash donation to CTO secretary general Hugh Riley

TORONTO, ON, 13 November, 2017 –  The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has bestowed its most prestigious honour on social advocate Jean Augustine.

The Grenada-born retired Canadian school teacher and politician was given the CTO Lifetime Achievement Award – the first person ever to be given this award in Canada – at a glitzy Caribbean Ball in Toronto on Friday evening.

“For your many years of passionate involvement in civic and diaspora activities, your extensive advocacy for education and social justice, your dedication to the development of the Caribbean and your leadership in investing in our youth by the establishment of the chair in education, community and Diaspora at York University; for these and other outstanding achievements which are symbols of your commitment to our youth, the African Caribbean community and all citizens, we honour you,” the citation said.

Ms. Augustine was a trailblazing politician and social activist, having worked her way from a nanny when she first arrived here in 1960, to become the most powerful black woman in the Canadian parliament.

She was the first black woman elected to the Canadian parliament and the first black cabinet minister, acting as Prime Minister Jean Chrétien’s trusted voice on committees and at international meetings and in Parliament when he was absent from the house of commons.

During her acceptance speech, the Ms. Augustine described how she once persuaded the Canadian prime minister to meet Caribbean leaders in the region instead of having them travel to Canada. That meeting was held in her country of birth, Grenada. She also described her battle to get the government to ease visa restrictions on Caribbean nationals, a battle she said she lost.

Prior to serving in parliament, Ms. Augustine was a school teacher and during her career in the teaching service she was an activist in Toronto’s Caribbean communities, volunteering with grassroots organizations to strengthen immigrant and women’s rights and to combat violence against women, drug abuse and poverty. In 1967, she served on the committee that helped organise the first Caribana festival, and in the mid-1990s she played a crucial role in establishing Black History Month in Canada.

“The Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award honours individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to society and who, by their example, have inspired at least one generation.  Ms. Augustine’s achievements have far exceeded those criteria,” the CTO said.

Ms. Augustine promised to place the award in a fitting location where it can be seen and appreciated by members of the public.

The honouree was introduced by her close friend Dr. Rita Cox, who shared compelling stories of Ms. Augustine’s advocacy on behalf of the region and her dedication to teaching.

The event was addressed by Ontario’s minister of education Mitzie Hunter, while minister of tourism, culture and sport Eleanor McMahon, who was unable attend, sent a message of welcome in which she described Caribbean Week Canada as “a wonderful way to celebrate our vibrant Caribbean-Canadian culture, which is such an important part of many communities in Ontario”.

“I invite everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to network and discover new and exciting ways to strengthen tourism ties between Ontario and the Caribbean. I would like to thank the Caribbean Tourism Organization, its partners and volunteers for their commitment to a sustainable tourism industry that contributes to the well-being of the people of the Caribbean,” she stated.

The Caribbean Ball, which was held at the Doubletree Hilton Downtown Toronto, was a fundraiser for the CTO’s hurricane relief fund and the CTO Foundation, the organisation’s scholarship programme which provides scholarships and grants to Caribbean nationals pursuing studies in tourism and hospitality.

During the event, the hotel’s wait staff presented over $1,000 to the CTO’s secretary general Hugh Riley, monies collected through their own fundraising efforts to help Caribbean countries that had been affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Organized by the CTO, Caribbean Week Canada 2017 combines business sessions and consumer-oriented events with Caribbean-inspired food, lively entertainment and networking opportunities.  

The remainder of the Caribbean Week Canada 2017 agenda includes:

Toronto, Canada

  • Trade Show and Educational Forum for Travel Agents: Tuesday, 14 November, 2017, 8 – noon., Improve Canada
  •  Tourism Industry Panel Discussion: Tuesday, 14 November, 2017, 12:30 – 3:30 p.m., Improve Canada

 Montreal, Canada

  •  Trade Show and Educational Forum for Travel Agents: Thursday 16 November, 2017, 5:30 – 9 p.m.  InterContinental Hotel
  • Media Marketplace: Friday, 17 November, 2017, 10:30 – 12:30 p.m., InterContinental Hotel
  • Media Awards Luncheon with National Tourist Offices: Friday 17 November, 2017, 12:30 – 2 p.m., InterContinental Hotel

 For more information on any of the Caribbean Week Canada events contact the Caribbean Tourism Organization at 905-857-1986 or visit canada.caribbeanweek.com.

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

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

Leave a Comment (0) →

CTO Sec. Gen. Message on the observance of Caribbean Tourism Month November, 2017

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, 1 Nov 2017.  This year can be described as a tale of two situations for Caribbean tourism. During the first half of this year the region performed at new record pace, welcoming 16.6 million international tourist arrivals at a healthy growth rate of 5.2 per cent, when compared to the same period last year.

However, hurricanes Irma and Maria have dented this growth, with the revised forecast for 2017 now at one to two per cent, down from 2.5 to 3.5 per cent.

The economic impact of the storms is significant. The Caribbean Development Bank predicts that every one per cent reduction in tourist arrivals (based on 2015 travel data) will cost US$137 million in lost revenue.

No doubt, the hurricanes have presented us with some major challenges, but we are determined to rebuild better and more sustainably.

In the meantime, while the affected countries are at various stages on the road back to normality, it is also important to note that over 75 per cent of the region was unscathed by the storms. In this context, we encourage you to keep visiting the Caribbean, as this is the best way to help the region.

During Caribbean Tourism Month we will focus on adventure, in keeping with the Year of Adventure. Mindful of the impact of the storms, there are still countless travel adventures to be had this month and for the remainder of the year.

We look forward to hearing of the various events and activities planned for the month, and with your permission, we will share your information and images. .

The month also provides an opportunity to reiterate the message that we are open for business and we do have an exciting product to offer.

Yes, some challenges remain and those are being addressed, but let’s also emphasize the  superb experiences we can offer to guests right now and help them and their companions have a Caribbean adventure to remember.

Together, let’s keep the right focus on this important industry and reaffirm the value of One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Caribbean Tourism Month, Corporate News

Leave a Comment (0) →

Remarks by Joy Jibrilu, Chairman, CTO Board of Directors, at the SOTIC 2017

This has been one of the most important weeks in our recent history, with this conference coming in the wake of two of the most vicious hurricanes ever to hit the region, both in terms of intensity and the unforgiving nature of the devastation.

We were challenged this week to explore ways to help lift the people of the affected countries from the hardships imposed on them by the storms.

At the same time, while being sensitive to the impacted members of the CTO family, we were also challenged to consider ways to tell the world that most of the Caribbean remains open for business.

We recognised that there is a need by consumers, the media  and even travel industry professionals, of a greater understanding of the geography of the region.

Hence, there was general agreement that the Caribbean – both public and private sectors – must find the funds to get the message out.

Many of our friends in the local and international media have been doing a fine job is helping us tell the story, for which I’d like to thank them. However, when the crisis is over, when the story ends, when the issues change, the media will move on.

There will still be a need to keep reminding the world that the distance between Barbados and Belize is more than six times as great as Toronto to Montreal; that New York to Chicago is only half as far as the Bahamas to Grenada; Guyana to Cuba is twice as far as London to Rome and that Dominica and the Dominican Republic are more than three times further away from each other than New York to Washington DC.

Amid the adversity, came a renewed spirit of partnership; as cruise lines, the media, the hotel sector and governments, all came together with a single goal in mind – to help the affected recover.

We saw yesterday during the Recover and Rebuild session the spirit of cooperation, as the various partners contributed ideas on how to emerge from the hard times – bigger, stronger and more sustainable.

It was also an opportunity for the affected countries to share their stories and garner support.

This session will help to inform into the UNWTO, Government of Jamaica, World Bank Group and Inter-American Development Bank Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth, scheduled for November 27 to 29 in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Here in Grenada, Minister Ed Bartlett of Jamaica chaired a high-level meeting with the aim of developing a strategic framework for the establishment of a Global Caribbean Tourism Recovery Team (GCTRT) to coordinate the tourism product restoration efforts.

Also present at the meeting were representatives of the UNWTO, the World Travel and Tourism Council, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Jamaica Tourism Development Company.

It was agreed that a Global Caribbean Tourism Recovery Team (GCTRT) would be established under the chairmanship of Minister Bartlett, and would include representatives of the CHTA, CTO, the WTTC and the UNWTO.

A secretariat will be established, with responsibility for coordinating the technical support, capacity building, communication strategy, multilateral and bilateral agency engagement, as well as the management of public/private partnership arrangements regarding the restoration of the tourism product across the Caribbean.

The secretariat will have its first meeting later in October, when the formal strategic framework and governance structure will be developed.

Now, a brief word on the region’s performance so far this year.

The Caribbean had been performing at a healthy growth rate of 5.2 per cent between January and June, when compared to the same period last year.

This reflected economic stability in the market, expansion and inauguration of flights by major carriers, and new marketing and product development initiatives.

During the first six months, 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 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.

Like tourist arrivals, 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, it is estimated that cruise passenger arrivals to the Caribbean region had reached 15.3 million, 4.0 per cent more than in the corresponding period of 2016. This performance represented the largest number of cruise passengers in the region at this time of year.

However, with the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the growth rate will slow down in the remaining quarters of the year.

Hence, the expected growth rate of tourist arrivals will range between 1.0 per cent and 2.0 per cent in 2017, with the 2018 performance expected to be similar.

Let me take the opportunity on behalf of the chairman, Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar and the CTO, to thank you for your support, Minister Clarice Modeste-Curwen and team at the ministry of tourism; CEO Patricia Maher and the Grenada Tourism Authority team; and our own staff at the CTO for working so hard to execute a more successful SOTIC than many of us could ever have predicted.

Thank you for your participation.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, SOTIC

Leave a Comment (0) →

Statement by CTO Secretary General, Hugh Riley, at the Opening Ceremony of SOTIC 2017

On behalf of the Chairman of the CTO’s Council of Ministers, whom I will introduce shortly, and on behalf of Mrs. Joy Jibrilu, the Chair of the CTO’s Board of Directors, I welcome you.

When the next chapter in the history of Caribbean tourism is written, the year 2017 will have a special mention.

Specifically, September will be remembered as the month when Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria, and a major earthquake, unleashed fury on parts of our beautiful Caribbean and other sections of The Americas.

Within a matter of weeks Mother Nature wrought her destructive power on Anguilla, Barbuda, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Florida, Mexico, Puerto Rico, St. Barts, Sint Maarten, St. Martin, Texas, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the U.S Virgin Islands, leaving in her wake death – and damage to property and economies in the tens of billions of dollars.

For us at the CTO, the 2017 State of the Tourism Industry Conference will be remembered as an event that created tremendous ambivalence.

Should we or should we not have a conference at this time?

How should we position it?

Have the reasons we created the SOTIC in the first place all gone away?

How do we balance the competing realities that for some, normality has come to a screeching halt – against the inevitability that life must go on?

And how should we counsel our members? Those that have suffered losses and are now struggling under the weight of the recovery process, are perhaps not able to take time away to attend a conference!

And what about those who were not impacted?

How would they feel if the CTO made a decision to set aside this important gathering, and leave it to the individual countries – each doing their own separate thing to keep their doors open and fuel the engine that keeps their economy running?

Those who are here, have answered those questions for us. In our opinion, and the opinion of our Chairman, whose country itself was impacted, you have made an important decision, and we thank you for being here.

The public sector and the private sector, the journalists, the students and the academics, the country representatives who can barely afford to take time away from the business of reconstructing their lives, we are honored by your presence here.

We have come to a place to share views on best practices, to exchange ideas on the way forward, to say thank you to neighbors and friends, to commiserate with each other, to celebrate being alive, and to take decisive actions that will help us to build economies that are sound and sustainable.

Because we get to write our own chapter in Caribbean tourism history, all of us gathered here over the next three days, actually have the wherewithal to determine the outcome of this conference in some individual way.

This must be the one where we learn from the events of the recent past, using those lessons to build a better, stronger future. The one where we accept that anyone of us can be knocked down hard at any time, but we must learn how to fight through the pain and rise again.

Just ask Grenada. Ask Dr. Keith Mitchell, who was also the Prime Minister when Hurricane Ivan ravaged this island in 2004. Ask Dr. Clarice Modeste, at the time the Minister of Works, what this island looked like with 90% of the buildings damaged.

This could be the SOTIC where we form such a strong One Caribbean Alliance and create such a meaningful resource that we never again find ourselves scrambling for funding just to be able to teach the world the geography of the Caribbean.

This could be the one where we convince our own people of the importance of tourism, not only as a debt reduction, employment generating, foreign exchange earning tool, – which it is – but also as a means to form lasting partnerships and strengthen the bonds among us.

Let us commit to doing whatever we possibly can to get our impacted brothers and sisters up and running again. Let us thank those who have opened their doors and their wallets, their schools and facilities, their hotels and their ships, to provide for and to accommodate their neighbors.

Let us reaffirm our commitment to use the power of the Caribbean brand to convince discerning visitors that the way to enhance their own lives, is to take full advantage of the uniquely enjoyable vacation experiences this region has to offer, knowing full well that the best way to help the Caribbean is to visit the Caribbean.

Let us never lose confidence in the enduring strength of the Caribbean brand.

 

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, SOTIC

Leave a Comment (0) →

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

Leave a Comment (0) →
Page 3 of 9 12345...»