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Archive for 2017 News

Freelance Journalist Robert Osborne Wins Top Prize at CTO Travel Media Awards in Canada

CTO Travel Media Award winners with CTO secretary general Hugh Riley (left) and Saint Lucia’s minister of tourism Dominic Fedee (right). Missing from photo are Robert Osborne, Michele Petersen and Sarah Staples. Ms Staples will accept her award at the CTO’s media awards luncheon in Montreal on Friday.

TORONTO, ON, 13 November, 2017 –   A story about diving in the Cayman Islands has copped freelance journalist Robert Osborne the top award at the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO)’s Caribbean Travel Media Awards programme.

The article, From Cayman With Love, which appeared in Diver Magazine, captures Osborne’s experiences ten years after he had first visited the CTO member country.

It earned the experienced writer the Best of the Best award at today’s awards luncheon sponsored by Saint Lucia, at the Doubletree Hilton Toronto Downtown, part of the programme for Caribbean Week Canada organized by the CTO.

“A well-crafted travel story by a keen observer can entice, inspire, and literally transport the reader to the destination. Robert Osborne achieved that feat with his entry, From Cayman With Love. He returned to the Cayman Islands after 10 years to revisit some of his favourite dive sites and vividly shared his memories and his discoveries while taking his readers on a series of adventures under the water and on land,” said chief judge Tim Doyle, a Toronto-based writer, editor and media executive who helped drive the digital transformation of many of Canada’s major newsrooms, and who teaches journalism in the School of Communications, Media and Design at Centennial College where he co-ordinates undergraduate and postgraduate journalism programmes. Osborne was one of seven travel writers and photographers awarded today for their coverage of the Caribbean.

The winners of this year’s Caribbean Travel Media awards are as follows:

Been There, Wrote That – Best Feature Article In A Consumer Magazine

Robert Osborne – From Cayman With Love – Diver Magazine

I Couldn’t Have Written Better Myself – Best Feature In A Consumer Newspaper

Michele Petersen – Spotlight on Nevis: The Broadway Musical “Hamilton” Shines Attention on this Luxe Caribbean Hideaway – The Montrealer

Inner Circle King/Queen– Best Feature Article In A Trade Publication

Ann Ruppenstein – You’ll Never Be Blue in Colorful CURAÇAO  – Travel Courier

Virtual Visitor Award – Best Online Feature

Josephine Matyas – Dominica lets visitors stay active or chill out – thestar.com

Not Lost in Translation Award –  Best Feature by a Canadian Journalist that appeared in Foreign Media.

Mark Stevens – Seven Great Reasons to Visit Antigua & Barbuda – Caribbean Business and Travel

Oh Snap!– Best Photograph accompanying a feature 

Sarah Staples – Havana: Then, Now & Its American Future –  Luxe Magazine

Oh My Word, I Blogged! (Best Blog Post)

Reanna Khan – Ortinola Great House: Your source for Cocoa Goodness – Never See Come Sea.. This winner of this award was determined by voters in an online poll.

They Like Me, They Really Like Me – Best of the Best

Robert Osborne – From Cayman With Love – Diver Magazine

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

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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

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Destination Trinidad & Tobago – Re-Born, Re-Focused and Ready to Do Business

Port of Spain, Trinidad – November 07, 2017 – The Honourable Shamfa Cudjoe, Minister of Tourism, is leading the Trinidad and Tobago delegation at the prestigious tourism trade show World Travel Market (WTM) that is presently taking place at ExCel, London from November 06-08. Generating more than £2.8 billion of business contracts between attendees, Trinidad and Tobago’s attendance at World Travel Market provides the opportunity for the delegation to effectively promote the destination in a global environment and attain competitive advantages in the industry.

In her address during a press conference hosted at the T&T booth stand during World Travel Market (WTM) 2017, Minister Shamfa Cudjoe shared that destination Trinidad and Tobago is now re-born, re-focused and ready to do business as the Government is refocusing its efforts on the development of the tourism sector. The Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Tourism went on to add that “we are re-developing all of our tourism offerings and getting ready to welcome the Brix Hotel which is part of the Marriott Autograph Collection, and in Tobago we are getting ready for Sandals”.

Minister Cudjoe also highlighted the excitement and vibrancy of destination Trinidad and Tobago with its wide ranging cultural tourism products and biodiversity. “One country… two islands… two different sets of experiences. Rich biodiversity, butterflies, birds, nesting sites for turtles and much more.”

Also speaking at the press conference was the Secretary of Tourism, Culture and Transportation, Councillor Nadine Stewart-Phillips, who invited the international media representatives present to visit Trinidad and Tobago to experience Destination T&T’s theme at WTM 2017 —“LIVE THE CULTURE”.

Councillor Nadine Stewart-Phillips also explained the reasons for Tobago’s focus on cultural tourism, stating that “the Tobago House of Assembly recently merged the departments of culture with tourism and transportation. The visitor spend from cultural and heritage travel is also more.”

Moreover, Virgin Atlantic’s Content Creator, Lizzy Davis, announced at the press conference, the launch of the exciting new project “Let’s Map Tobago” which allows stakeholders as well as visitors to upload photos of events, places and people. The project is supported across all social channels and is powered by Google. Other activities announced at World Travel Market were the Lime 365 Calendar of Events, the development of new tourism entities in Trinidad and Tobago to manage the tourism sector and efforts to secure increased and new airlift.

Held annually, World Travel Market brings together almost 5,000 exhibiting destinations, technology and private sector companies to exhibit and network with over 51,000 travel professionals, key industry buyers, and international media, digital influencers, students and senior government officials.

Other members of the Trinidad and Tobago delegation include Louis Lewis, newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Tobago Tourism Agency, senior executives from the Division of Tourism, Culture and Transportation of the Tobago House of Assembly, the Ministry of Tourism’s Senior Promotions Officer and Corporate Communications Officer as well as local hoteliers and tour service providers.

November 07, 2017 _______________________________________________________________________

For more information, contact:

Corporate Communications Unit
Ministry of Tourism
Phone: (868) 624-1403 Ext. 248; Fax:      (868) 625-3894 

ABOUT THE MINISTRY OF TOURISM

The Ministry of Tourism is responsible for tourism policy development, awareness, catalysing and facilitating growth of the tourism sector, encouraging investment in the sector, building stakeholder partnerships and monitoring trends in the industry in Trinidad and Tobago.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Destination News

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WESTJET begins direct flight to Belize from Calgary, Canada

Belize City, Monday, November 6th, 2017:  A brief inaugural ceremony was held at the Departure Lounge of the Philip Goldson International Airport on Friday, November 3rd to commemorate WestJet’s new non-stop weekly service between Calgary, Canada and Belize. According to WestJet the service is part of the airline’s seasonal schedule for the winter of 2017-18.

The ceremony was attended by representatives of the Belize Hotel Association, senior staff of the Belize Airport Concession Company (BACC), the Canadian Consulate to Belize and the Belize Tourism Board among others. Short addresses were delivered by Mr. Lynn Young, Honorary Consul of Canada to Belize and the Hon. Manuel Heredia, Minister of Tourism & Civil Aviation.

In his address, Hon. Manuel Heredia said, “The importance of the Canadian market for Belize can certainly not be overstated in terms of the overall economic impact it has on Belize’s Tourism Industry.”

He pointed out that “Canadian arrivals to Belize accounted for 6% of total overnight arrivals in Belize in 2016. That percentage share is expected to rise this year with the increased traffic from the direct flights from Canada to Belize introduced in the latter part of last year and, of course, with the start of this new flight.”

Most Canadians prefer to travel to Belize to enjoy the tropical weather that Belize has to offer.  But they also enjoy the warm hospitality of all Belizeans and the country’s awesome culture and excellent cuisine and attractions.

According to BTB’s Director of Tourism, Karen Bevans, the new flight “will help with the different areas such as Vancouver and the others that were unable to get a direct connection into Toronto so this makes it much more convenient for a large market in Canada and to open up the opportunities for Belize even more.”

“ We expect that the size of the Canadian market will only continue to increase and hopefully we can expect at least 10% of our arrivals with the addition of this flight,” Ms. Bevans said. She added: “As we heard the Honorary Consul mention more and more students are now approaching him about the Canadian market or schools in Canada and that population has grown and we expect that to happen even more because this gives more accessibility, cheaper cost, so it does create more opportunity for our Belizean people.”

WestJet inaugurated its first flight from Toronto, Canada to Belize in 2016. The new WestJet service to Belize from Calgary, therefore, represents a resounding confirmation that Belize continues to be a growing, viable and a must-visit destination in Central America and the Caribbean.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Destination News

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POST HURRICANES CARIBBEAN UPDATE – 6 NOVEMBER, 2017

LONDON,UK (6 Nov., 2017) – As member countries of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) affected by the recent hurricanes Irma and Maria reopen for business, the CTO presents this update, which includes data provided by our partner, OAG, the leading air travel data provider based in the UK, the state of readiness in the member countries and planned events in the coming months, as provided by the member destinations.

The CTO Relief Fund (a 501 c3) helps families and countries rebuild after hurricanes, with monies raised being sent directly to CTO-member destinations affected by the hurricanes. To make a donation, visit www.gofundme.com/hurricane-relief-fund-cto.

Donations through CHTA’s Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund can be made via http://www.tourismcares.org/caribbean.

Download Full Post Hurricanes Caribbean Update Nov. 6, 2017

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Caribbean Recovery

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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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