Archive for 2019 News

New Year’s Message from Acting Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (31 Dec. 2019) –If we were to stop and reflect on this year as it comes to a close, we would most likely describe 2019 as a varied year, which both highlighted the strengths in Caribbean tourism and its inherent weaknesses.

The sector’s strengths were evident in the significant growth rates experienced by most Caribbean countries. Despite contraction in some larger destinations, such as Cuba and the Dominican Republic, the Caribbean experienced an overall 6.1% level of growth in visitor arrivals during the first nine months of the year. It is noteworthy that the growth rates of those countries affected by the 2017 hurricanes were substantial, in some cases up to triple-digit levels. This level of recovery speaks volumes about the commitment of the Caribbean to this industry which has become the lifeblood of several countries.

During early September, a portion of the northern Bahamas was ravaged by Hurricane Dorian, a super hurricane which broke many records. The devastation caused was a further wake-up call to us in the region that the climatic changes are here and likely irreversible. It is our responsibility to create resilience not only in the tourism sector, but in all sectors of our economies and by extension all sections of our societies. We continue to commiserate with our brothers and sisters in The Bahamas on the loss of life and property experienced as a result of Dorian.

The cruise sector has also had a strong showing in 2019 with a 5.8% growth rate for the first three quarters. Implicit in this growth of cruise visits is the fact that as occurred in 2018, there has been consistent growth of cruise visits in each quarter of 2019, albeit at rates which are lower than those experienced in 2018.

During the last two months of 2019, we at the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) announced that the organization would be going through a process of restructuring. This is currently underway, and it is our intention to emerge from this process with a revised structure which more adequately serves the needs of all our members.

The Caribbean tourism sector is ending 2019 in a position of which all of us can be proud, having seen an overall reversal of the position at the end of 2018. As we look to 2020, we should not rest on our laurels, but continue to work to sustain the growth which was realized this year. At the same time, we must remember that we live in a volatile climatic region which while providing the palate for amazing experiences for our visitors, must always be respected and considered in our planning and development.

In 2020 we continue with the theme of the ‘Year of Festivals’ as we recognized that it was all but impossible for us to fully embrace the rich culture of the Caribbean in one twelve-month span. This year we hope to move even further along the path of integrating our festivals and other cultural events into the tourism product in all our countries. We recognize that not only do these aspects of our individual countries distinguish us from each other, but they also hold significant potential in the quest to attract even more visitors to our shores.

What is also becoming clearer to us is that we have not begun to fully and responsibly harness the power of our culture and heritage in defining who we are, and this is critical as we seek to offer authentic experiences which benefit both the visitor and the communities in which these experiences exist.

Given the results recorded so far in 2019, it is our expectation that 2020 will, all things being equal, be another year of growth, likely at a rate slightly lower for both stayover arrivals and cruise visits. One way that we can arrest the reduction in growth – or even maintain growth at current levels – is to embrace the value of speaking with one voice, ONE CARIBBEAN, to the rest of the world. To this end, it is our expectation that one of the outcomes of the restructuring of the CTO will be a new way of speaking with one voice to the rest of the travelling world, thereby pooling our limited resources to become a stronger force for the maintenance and growth of the market share which the Caribbean, the most tourism-dependent region, values.

On behalf of the CTO Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism, Board of Directors and the staff of the CTO, I want to thank you all for standing with us in 2019 and we look forward to your support in 2020. I wish for a year filled with blessings, growth and prosperity for this region we love.

About the Caribbean Tourism Organization

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), with headquarters in Barbados, is the Caribbean’s tourism development agency comprising membership of the region’s finest countries and territories including Dutch, English, French and Spanish-speaking, as well as a myriad of private sector allied members. The CTO’s vision is to position the Caribbean as the most desirable, year-round, warm weather destination, and its purpose is Leading Sustainable Tourism – One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean.

Among the benefits to its members the organization provides specialized support and technical assistance in sustainable tourism development, marketing, communications, advocacy, human resource development, event planning & execution and research & information technology.

The CTO’s Headquarters is located at Baobab Tower, Warrens, St. Michael, Barbados BB 22026; Tel: (246) 427-5242; Fax: (246) 429-3065; E-mail:;

The CTO’s London office is located at Suites 52A & 53, 5th Floor AMP House, Dingwall Road, Croydon CR0 2LX, England. Tel: 011 44 208 948 0057; Fax: 011 44 208 948 0067; E-mail:

For more information on the Caribbean Tourism Organization, please visit and follow CTO on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to be part of the conversation.


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CTO Announces Winners of the 2019 Caribbean Travel Media Awards

London, UK, 5 November 2019: Amidst the sounds and colours of a Barbados Tuk Band, courtesy of headline sponsor, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., the big winners of the 2019 Caribbean Travel Media Awards were revealed last night at an exclusive networking evening held at the Crowne Plaza London Docklands.

Shortlisted by a panel of 14 judges representing the industry, the winners across eight categories were each awarded a prestigious trophy with Certificates for runners-up, in the presence of visiting Caribbean ministers and UK Chapter members, including individual sponsors of the awards.

The first award of the night went to Martin Steady winning in the Best Travel Trade category for ‘A Journey to Belize’* in Selling Travel Magazine, an excellent account of his cultural and historical journey through the Belize islands.

Within the national and regional press categories, Juliet Rix picked up the Best National Newspaper award for her inspiring coverage of Dominica two years after the devastation of Hurricane Irma featured in the Telegraph’s print as ‘The Calm After the Storm’ and online as ‘Rediscovering Dominica two years after the hurricane’; with the Best Regional Newspaper award going to Hannah Stephenson for the second year running. Her feature ‘ Spice of Life – Grenada ’syndicated nationwide for PA Media (formerly the Press Association) offered a refreshing focus on Grenada’s community spirit and its unspoilt nature.

Amongst the other accolades the Best Consumer Feature went to Ronan O’Shea who takes his readers off the beaten track to discover amazing hiking trails and coastal food in his feature ‘ Antigua Beyond the Beaches’ for Escapism Magazine.

In the biggest category overall, with over 40 entries submitted, Blogger Macca Sherifi of An Adventurous World scooped the combined Best Online & Blog Post award. In his feature and video, Macca brings the island of Dominica to life through his passionate and inspiring travel guide ‘ What to do in Dominica-My Travel Guide to Dominica’.

The Best Broadcast category brought up some surprises with two episodes of Ainsley’s Caribbean Kitchen, Antigua and Dominica, reaching the finalist stage. Presented by Ainsley Harriott, Ainsley’s Caribbean Kitchen –Antigua, which showcased the island’s local culinary treasures alongside stupendous footage, scooped up the winner’s award. View the trailer at YouTube Antigua Trailer.

In the Social Media category, three impressive campaigns made the shortlist with the winner of the Best Social Media Campaign going to #WhatCoolLooksLike for the Traverse Antigua Conference 2019. Up to 10 UK influencers representing blogs including Dejashu, Travel Documentaries, I Want You To Know, Sandy Makes Sense and Travel Colourfully were part of a Campaign involving 33 content creators who individually presented excellent content across numerous social media platforms.

In the final category for 2019, Audrey Gillan and Nicola Trup scooped the Best Caribbean Round Up award for their feature, ‘Caribbean Cook Up’ in National Geographic Traveller, a fascinating and beautifully illustrated culinary journey through the Caribbean.

Carol Hay, the CTO’s director of marketing for UK and Europe, said “Congratulations to all the finalists and winners in the 2019 awards; the Caribbean Travel Media Awards have successively drawn a high standard of entries in all categories, each entry playing their part in raising awareness of the Caribbean as a region, and this year has been no exception.

“I would like to personally thank all the entrants who took time to submit their entries and express my gratitude to our headline sponsor, Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc, our individual award sponsors who very generously provided the prizes and the Judges for taking time out to review the entries.”

The 2019 Caribbean Travel Media Awards winners, runners-up (2nd and 3rd place respectively) and sponsors were:

Best Travel Trade Feature:
MARTIN STEADY for ‘A Journey to Belize’, Selling Travel
In 2nd place: Andrew Doherty, TTG with ‘Jamaica Beyond The Beaches’
In 3rd place: Kathryn Liston, Selling Travel, with ‘My Journey – St. Vincent & the Grenadines’
Sponsor: Discover Dominica Authority

Best National Newspaper Feature:
JULIET RIX for ‘Rediscovering Dominica two years after the Hurricane’, The Telegraph and
In 2nd place: Ian Belcher, The Times for ‘How Grenada turned up the heat’
TIED with James Henderson, The Telegraph for ‘Go Organic, local… and Jamaican’
In 3rd place: Fiona Hyde, Irish Times, for ‘Holidaying solo on the honeymooner’s island of Saint Lucia’
Sponsor: St. Kitts Tourism Authority

Best Regional Newspaper Feature:
HANNAH STEPHENSON, ‘Spice of Life Grenada’, PA Media
In 2nd: Priya Joshi, PA Media for ‘In Jamaica, The Jamaican Way’
In 3rd place: Jane Harris, Waterfront Magazine with ‘Happy Landings Saint Lucia’
Sponsor: Saint Lucia Tourism Authority

Best Consumer Feature:
RONAN O’SHEA for ‘Antigua Beyond the Beaches’ Escapism
In 2nd place: Caroline Robertson-Brown, Scubaverse, for ‘Treasure Island Barbados’
In 3rd place: Nick Redman, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, for ‘Beq in Time’
Sponsor: Cayman Islands Department of Tourism

Best Broadcast (TV & Radio) Feature:

AINSLEY HARRIOTT forAinsley’s Caribbean Kitchen – Antigua, ITV
In 2nd place: Greg McKenzie, BBC Travel Show for ‘Swapping dance moves for hard hats in Saint Martin’
In 3rd place: Ainsley Harriott, Ainsley’s Caribbean Kitchen – Dominica, ITV
Sponsor: Bahamas Tourist Office

Best Online and/or Blog Feature:
MACCA SHERIFI for ‘What to do in Dominica-My Travel Guide’, An Adventurous World
In 2nd place: Ursula Barzey, Caribbean & Co for ‘10 Islands To Visit in St Vincent & The Grenadines’
Laura French, Lonely Planet, for ‘Wildlife, beaches and rum: Embracing Guadeloupe’s rustic charm’
In 3rd place: Heather Cowper, Heather on her Travels for ‘Kaaboo Cayman Review’
Ella Alexander, Harper’s Bazaar (Online) for ‘Beyond the beaches, a cultural guide to Jamaica’
Sponsor: Tobago Tourism Agency

Best Social Media Campaign:
#WhatCoolLooksLike campaign for TRAVERSE ANTIGUA CONFERENCE 2019
In 2nd place: Charlie and Jess Wild for Kuoni & the Travel Project ‘Secret Antigua’
In 3rd place: Ursula Barzey, Caribbean & Co for ‘Celebrating Creole Day& Other Things To Do In Saint Lucia’
Sponsor: Cayman Islands Department of Tourism

Best Caribbean Round Up:
AUDREY GILLAN & NICOLA TRUP for ‘A Caribbean Cook Up’, National Geographic Traveller
In 2nd place: Lucy Thackray, Mandarin Oriental Magazine for ‘Six luxury trips from Canouan’
In 3rd place: Jo Cooke, Travel Weekly for ‘Eight of the best Caribbean Cities’
Sponsor: Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.

View photos from Awards.

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Statement by Neil Walters, Secretary General(Ag) on the Launch of Caribbean Tourism Month 2019


Friday 1 November, 2019 – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) joins the region in celebrating Caribbean Tourism Month as we reaffirm the value of “One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean.”

As we continue to observe 2019 as the Caribbean Year of Festivals, we celebrate both the unique distinctions of our region and the many features that bind us together. The unique rhythm and tempo of each CTO destination is reflected best in the music, art, sailing, lights, food, rum, religious, literary, dance and the many other festivals celebrated throughout the region. Unquestionably, there is a festival to commemorate each element of the cultures and heritages which personify the region.

The unique characteristics, diverse backgrounds, and traditions that enrich the Caribbean’s cultural tapestry create enchanting and magnificent sights and experiences for us, the people of the Caribbean, as well as our visitors.

The dynamic spirit of the people of the Caribbean comes to life in an unmatched array of diverse festivals which energise communities and entice visitors to come and immerse themselves in the wonderful blend of culture, beauty and warmth that define us.

While these festivals are of great significance to the people of the Caribbean, they have also become a signature feature of the region’s tourism product, capturing the attention of the millions of visitors attracted to our shores. No doubt, many of the 17.1 million tourist visits to the Caribbean during the first half of this year were influenced by festivals. Therefore, as we seek to grow our arrival numbers and tourist spend, these events will continue to be integral to our planning. Critical to this will be maximising resources while minimising waste by developing a model which emphasises environmental preservation, maintains economic viability and prioritises cultural considerations.

The CTO encourages all our member countries and partners to organise some form of activity in observance of Caribbean Tourism Month and to share your events with us so that we can help tell your story to the world. We also encourage everyone to participate in our social media campaign during these next 30 days.

I wish everyone a successful and exciting Caribbean Tourism Month.

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Caribbean Tourism Organization Welcomes JetBlue’s Continued Growth in the Region

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (24 Oct. 2019) – Having doubled its seat capacity to the Caribbean over the last decade, JetBlue is looking to expand its business footprint in the region, including through its travel booking arm, JetBlue Travel Products.

Mike Pezzicola, the head of commercial for JetBlue Travel Products, presented at a recent Caribbean outlook forum organised by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) in Antigua and Barbuda.

He said JetBlue operates over 1000 flights daily with a third of its route network in the Caribbean, and this is likely to increase as JetBlue continues to expand capacity in the years ahead. Since May of 2018, JetBlue has added six additional non-stop routes to Caribbean destinations.

In addition, the JetBlue official told the senior tourism policymakers and executives the company was also focused on increasing bookings of ground transportation, tours, hotels and attractions in destinations through the travel booking arm.

“One thing we see is that as folks are planning to travel, when they book their travel vacation with us, and we help them plan it, their stay is longer and they are more likely to return, if not to the destination then to another destination in the tropics,” said Pezzicola.

He added that JetBlue was also focusing on improving its cooperative marketing with destinations and large resorts, while also emphasising the uniqueness of Caribbean destinations by highlighting their culture, food and events.

“We are working very heavily now on explaining the difference and as a lot of our customers, particularly those flying down from the US, have this vision that every  [destination in the Caribbean] is the same and we all know that is not true,” said Pezzicola.

The Caribbean tourism outlook forum was the first organised by the CTO as a platform for discussion between member governments and leaders from the tourism industry that generate business to the region. It was attended by ministers and commissioners of tourism, directors of tourism, chief executives of destination management organisations, permanent secretaries, advisors and specialists and technical officers from 12 member countries.

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2019 Caribbean Travel Media Awards UK Finalists Announced

London, UK 19 October 2019: The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is delighted to announce the final shortlist in each of the eight categories in the 2019 Caribbean Travel Media Awards. More than 130 entries across eight categories were reviewed by an expert panel of judges, representing the media and travel industry, via a strict criteria and points system.

Carol Hay, the CTO’s director of marketing for UK and Europe, said, “Over the past few weeks our expert panel of judges have deliberated and debated to decide the finalists for this year’s awards and we congratulate all the nominees who made it on the shortlist. The high calibre of entries received truly underlines the passion that media continue to have for the Caribbean and I am sure this made it a tough job for the judges. We acknowledge our Judges for their time and commitment and look forward to welcoming them and the finalists to the Awards.”

The full list of finalists in each category, in no particular order, is:

Best travel trade feature
Sponsor: Discover Dominica Authority
Kathryn Liston, Selling Travel
Andrew Doherty, TTG
Martin Steady, Selling Travel

Best national newspaper feature
Sponsor: St. Kitts Tourism Authority
Fiona Hyde, Irish Times
Juliet Rix, Telegraph
Ian Belcher, The Times

Best regional newspaper feature
Sponsor: Saint Lucia Tourism Authority
Priya Joshi, Press Association
Hannah Stephenson, Press Association
Jane Harris, Waterfront Magazine

Best consumer feature
Sponsor: Cayman Islands Department of Tourism
Nick Redman, Sunday Times Travel Magazine
Caroline Robertson-Brown, Dive Travel Adventures
Ronan O’Shea, Escapism Magazine

Best broadcast, TV and radio feature
Sponsor: Bahamas Tourist Office
Ainsley’s Caribbean Kitchen in Dominica, ITV
Greg McKenzie, BBC Travel Show
Ainsley’s Caribbean Kitchen in Antigua, ITV

Best online feature or blog post
Sponsor: Tobago Tourism Agency
Heather Cowper, Heather on her travels + Ella Alexander, Harpers Bazaar
Macca Sherifi-An Adventurous World
Ursula Barzey, Caribbean & Co + Laura French, Lonely Planet

Best Social Media Campaign
Sponsor: Cayman Islands Department of Tourism
Celebrating Creole Day – Ursula Barzey, Caribbean & Co.
Traverse Antigua Conference 2019
Charlie and Jess Wild – Kuoni and The Travel Project

Best Caribbean Round Up
Sponsor: Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.
Jo Cooke, Travel Weekly
Audrey Gillan and Nicola Trup, National Geographic Traveller
Lucy Thackray, Mandarin Oriental Magazine.

Amongst the panel of judges for the 2019 Caribbean Travel Media Awards were:
Johnson Johnrose, Communications Specialist, Caribbean Tourism Organization; Helen Tabois, Senior Product & Marketing Manager, Caribbean & Cruise, ITC Travel; Pat Riddell, Editor, National Geographic Traveller (UK); Greg Armstrong, Product Management Director, Blue Bay Travel; Gary Davis, GD Travel & Travel Tips; Donna Joseph, Sales Director, SN Travel; Laverne Walker, Director, Sackville Travel Services Ltd; Daniel Pearce, CEO, TTG Media; Eulanda & Omo, founders & creative curators of HDYTI; Paul Scudamore, Contributing Editor, Travel Bulletin; Rachel O’Reilly, Head of Communications, Kuoni; Denise Greene, Sunrise Marketing; Graham McKenzie, Travelmole.

Click here to read more about each of our 14 judges on the panel.

The Caribbean Travel Media Awards continue to celebrate and reward the very best representation of the Caribbean by the media industry in the areas of story-telling in print and online, social media and broadcast. The overall winners will be announced at a special awards ceremony on Monday 4 November to be held at the Crowne Plaza London Docklands at Royal Victoria Dock.

Individual sponsors support each category with this year’s headline sponsor confirmed as Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.

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