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Despite Dorian, Travel to the Caribbean Keeps Growing

Wednesday 6th November:  A study, undertaken by ForwardKeys, the travel analytics firm, has revealed that despite the recent ravages of hurricane Dorian and other huge storms in the Caribbean, tourism will continue to grow. The results of the study were presented at a Caribbean Tourism Organization-organised news conference at World Travel Market this morning.

Forward bookings for the important winter season, 1st November to 31st January are currently 1.6% ahead of where they were at the equivalent point last year. Currently, bookings from the USA, the most important source market are 3.0% behind but bookings from all the other major source markets are ahead, France 9.8%, the UK 0.9%, Canada 8.2%, Argentina 8.1% and the rest of the world collectively 3.2%. The current leader is the Netherlands, 42.1% ahead.

However, the outlook is not universally positive. Forward bookings to the top destination in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic, are currently 14.2% behind and those to the Bahamas and Aruba are 6.4% and 1.4% behind respectively. Encouraging growth is seen from Puerto Rico, 28.0% ahead, but that is really a recovery story, as tourism to the island was hit hard by hurricane Maria in December 2017.

Looking back on the first three quarters of the year, travel to the Caribbean has grown healthily, 5.2% up on the same period in 2018. The star source market has been the USA, with 56% share and 9.0% growth. However, other major origin markets have been mixed, with France down 2.2%, the UK down 4.7% and Argentina down 5.7%. However, Canada has been up 15.3%, Chile up 17.0% and the rest of the world up 1.4%.

This season’s most devastating hurricane, Dorian, which came at the end of August and early September, ravaged the most northerly parts of the Bahamas but left other parts relatively undamaged. The result is that some parts of the country saw a drop in arrivals, where others experienced a significant increase. Travel to Freeport and Marsh Harbour in September fell dramatically, by 50.9% and 67.9% respectively. The impact on Nassau, the capital and the largest airport, was more limited, as arrivals went down by 7.4%. Travel to Georgetown and North Eleuthera was up, 10.6% and 30.7% respectively.

Hurricanes have been a major scourge, affecting travel to the Caribbean in recent years, with some islands left badly damaged. ForwardKeys research shows that recovering from the impact of a major hurricane can take years. So far, it has taken Puerto Rico 15 months to reach 70% of pre-hurricane arrivals and it has taken St Maarten 20 months. In the case of the Bahamas, ForwardKeys expects the recovery to take less time because the initial rebound in both post-hurricane arrivals has been stronger: just one month after the hurricane, the Bahamas has reached 80% of pre-hurricane arrivals.

Joy Jibrilu, Director General, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism said: “The Bahamas is an archipelago with more than 700 islands and cays, spread over 100,000 square miles of ocean. Because of our unique geography, a hurricane can impact some parts of the country, but leave other parts untouched. That is the case with Hurricane Dorian. The majority of our country remains beautiful and palm-fringed, with unspoiled beaches in several shades of white and pink. We would like everyone to know that the best thing they can do for us right now is visit. Our beautiful island nation is ready to welcome you.”

Olivier Ponti, VP Insights, ForwardKeys, concluded: “What we have seen in recent years is that the Caribbean is an incredibly popular destination. When some parts of it have been hit with horrendous hurricanes and other issues, tourist did not give up on their desire for a holiday in paradise; they chose other parts of it to visit instead. We saw that syndrome earlier this year, when stories in the US media about tourists who had died in the Dominican Republic, caused bookings to collapse; however, other islands, most notably Jamaica, the Bahamas and Aruba saw a visitor surge.”

From left: Joy Jibrilu, director general of tourism, the Bahamas; Dominic Fedee, chairman, Caribbean Tourism Organization and minister of tourism for Saint Lucia; and Olivier Ponti, vice president, Insights ForwardKeys


Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, ITB & WTM

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New Today at WTM – Nov. 6

From expanding its presence in the UK, with a marketing strategy that includes adverts on taxi cabs, incredible print advertising and a planned television campaign, to the opening of the Royal Saint Lucia Turf Club in December to the recently signed MOU with Carnival Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean. These are just a few of the subjects that CEO of the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, Beverly Nicholson-Doty discusses in this interview.

Louis E A Lewis, CEO of the Tobago Tourism Authority, speaks about Tobago’s green initiative to showcase its natural assets, emphasise sustainability and ensure the product is at world quality standards. He also speaks about the Man in the Biosphere initiative – a UN designation – for at least 80 square kilometres of land in the main ridge rain forest.

Plus, an audience with the CTO, which includes from chairman Dominic Fedee, the Bahamas’ director general of tourism, Joy Jibrilu and Olivier Ponti, vice president – Insights, Forward Keys.

With several new properties opening in Curacao, CEO Paul Paul E Pennicook tells us about plans to get more Brits to visit. He also talks about a rebounding South American market and the rising number of Brazilian visitors.

The ground breaking for a new Six Senses hotel, additional flights, winning awards, making strides and how Lewis Hamilton can continue to bring recognition to Pure Grenada, are some of the topics minister Clarice Modeste-Curwen discusses in this interview.

“People just don’t realise how different it (the Caribbean) is, how diverse it is…They think because they’ve got dark skin and the sun shines that we all sitting around eating mangoes and ackee and salt fish for breakfast and curry goat and roti in the evening.” Celebrity chef Ainsley Harriott of Ainsley’s Caribbean Kitchen fame, talks about Caribbean cuisine, filming the show and his next project.

Look our later for later, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the BVI and more.
For photographs, visit https://www.facebook.com/johnson.johnrose/media_set?set=a.10157615468500883&type=3.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, ITB & WTM

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Caribbean’s Tourism Growth Rate More Than Double Global Average

LONDON, UK (6 Nov. 2019) – Tourist arrivals to the Caribbean increased by a solid 9.7 per cent during the first half of 2019, when compared to the same period last year, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) revealed today.

Addressing the media at a news conference at World Travel Market this morning, the CTO’s chairman, Dominic Fedee, said this performance was more than double the global average of 4.4 per cent.

Between January and June this year, there were 17.1 million tourist trips to the Caribbean, 1.5 million more than the corresponding period in 2018. The foundation of this performance was a strong United States market, which grew by 20.2 per cent, totalling a first half record of 8.9 million overnight international tourists. During the same period, some 2.1 million Canadian tourists stayed in the region, a 2.4 per cent rise when compared to the same period last year.

However, the European market was flat, registering a marginal 0.4 per cent increase to 2.9 million trips, with the UK market down by 1.7 per cent, mainly due to significant declines in Cuba, which fell by 22 per cent, and the Dominican Republic, down by 15.3 per cent.

The strong results recorded in the first half reflect the resilience of individual destinations and demonstrate their ability to skillfully navigate global political and economic concerns, including Brexit and the ongoing trade wars which threaten the stability of the global economy.

Several factors supported the gains made so far including increased air capacity between the region and major sources, expansions in the accommodation sector and the positive positioning of the destinations’ brands in the various source markets.

As it relates to cruise, the demand for the Caribbean was so strong in the first six months of 2019, that there was a record 16.7 million cruise visits, 1.3 million more than in the same period of 2018. The present rate of growth estimated to be 8.1 per cent eclipsed that for similar periods in the last four years.

Looking forward to the remainder of this year, based on current trends, and considering the various global issues including Brexit and trade wars, the CTO forecast an increase of between five and seven per cent in stayover arrivals and four to five per cent rise in cruise passenger visits.

Posted in: 2019 News, ITB & WTM

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Puerto Rico Invites Muralists to Showcase Their Work with Local Street Artists

San Juan, Puerto Rico, October 29, 2019 – In partnership with Puerto Rico’s local art community, Discover Puerto Rico, the Island’s Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), today launched the “Blank Canvas Initiative,” a call to street artists around the world, inviting them to share their craft on the walls of Puerto Rico’s streets, and form part of the Island’s unique and booming arts scene. Puerto Rico boasts exceptional art museums, a flourishing art gallery scene, independent collectors, curators, quality events and highly skilled artisans, offering their work across the Island, and a thriving street art and mural experience unlike any other. For travelers who crave and seek out cultural arts and authentic experiences, Puerto Rico should top their list.

Internationally recognized Puerto Rican artist, Alexis Bousquet, also the founder of the Santurce es Ley street art festival, is teaming up with local artists Celso González, Vero Rivera and Bob Snow. Together, they are joining forces to identify wall spaces throughout Puerto Rico, including the well-known Santurce neighborhood in San Juan, to create “Reserved for” signs, which will serve as larger-than-life blank canvas invitations for global street artists around the world, to feature their art alongside Puerto Rico’s very own.

The new artwork from the “Blank Canvas Initiative” will be showcased just in time for Puerto Rico’s most festive season – the holidays – also renowned as the longest in the world. The holidays in Puerto Rico are like no other, and culminate with the Calles de San Sebastian festival, the largest festival in Puerto Rico where thousands of locals and visitors alike gather to experience parades of cabezudos (big heads), live music, dancing, libations, food, and hundreds of authentic crafts by local artisans. The new murals will also be a focal point during upcoming “Santurce es Ley” street art festivals, which celebrate the thriving mural scene and stunning works in the area, approaching its eighth anniversary, where works are being created and unveiled live.

“Some areas of Puerto Rico are a true haven for mural art, yet we’re not a destination typically visited for that,” said Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico. “In addition to Santurce es Ley, our Island offers many options for travelers looking for rich arts and culture to be inspired – from our artisan’s work, widely available throughout the Island, to museums and art galleries open year-round, and other art-focused events like the MECA Art Fair – our Island is a culture lovers’ delight for anyone seeking to immerse themselves in authentic experiences and everything Puerto Rico has to offer.”

“As artists, we believe in expression, and I hope that my fellow artists around the world see this opportunity to express themselves while being a force for good,” said Alexis Bousquet, founder of Santurce es Ley. “We welcome them to our Island, to take part in our booming art scene and to explore a place that will surely capture their hearts.”

Puerto Rico’s existing art culture sets it apart from other Caribbean destinations. The unique blend of Taino Indian, African and Spanish heritages makes the art scene across the Island one-of-a-kind with a cultural DNA unlike any other. The Island has more than 70 museums and 50 art galleries that contain works ranging from ancient Indigenous and African, to Baroque and Victorian, and contemporary works of art.

As a lead up to the holiday season and the “Santurce es Ley” festivals, Puerto Rico hosts the annual MECA Art Fair from November 21 through 24 – the largest in the Caribbean, which brings together a variety of talent that ranges beyond traditional canvas works, to sculptures and beyond.

The modern-day art boom sits alongside the Island’s distinguished and diverse architecture that dates to the 1500’s, as the first settlement in the New World. Most notably, the city of Old San Juan, which houses the Spanish colonial settlement and various UNESCO World Heritage Sites, will be celebrating its 500th anniversary in 2021, with celebrations and events beginning in 2020.

Beyond its arts scene and rich, historic culture, Puerto Rico is on a path towards a record-breaking year for tourism, with growing visitor arrivals and air lift globally. In addition to world-class beaches, the Island boasts an impressive variety of natural offerings including three of the world’s five bioluminescent bays, the only rainforest in the U.S. forest system, El Yunque, and a standout farm-to-table movement, which has evolved into a variety of agritourism experiences for travelers to enjoy.

For global artists interested in joining the “Blank Canvas Initiative,” Discover Puerto Rico welcomes them to contact [email protected]. For more information about Puerto Rico, visit: DiscoverPuertoRico.com.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Destination News

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New Today from WTM 2019 – The Caribbean at Work

A very good year for the Cayman Islands, with arrivals in September climbing 20 per cent over last September, says Adrian White, regional manager for the UK/Europe

Another new hotel coming to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, some exciting developments and growing tourism in a sustainable manner are some of the topics discussed by CEO of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority, Glen Beache, in this interview.

Dominica’s thrust towards high-end tourism and the celebration of its creole heritage, are some of the subjects discussed by Colin Piper, the CEO of Discover Dominica Authority, in this WTM interview.

Breaking News! Grand Bahama is open for business, says Joy Jibrilu, director general of tourism for the Bahamas, in this interview during which she reflects the plight and pain of the people of Abaco and Grand Bahama in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, but emphasises the importance of continuing to visit the 14 other islands (now 15 with Grand Bahama now approximately 80 per cent up to speed).

Leah Chandler, the chief marketing officer for Discover Puerto Rico, explains the destination’s rapid recovery from Hurricane Irma two years ago, and some of the exciting initiatives that are paying dividends.

Nicola Balram, senior marketing officer at the Guyana Tourism Authority, explains why Guyana is becoming a major tourism player

A new airport terminal, a new airline deal and Tobago is making up for the loss of seats due to the collapse of Thomas Cook, are some of the topics discussed by chief secretary, Kelvin Charles, in this interview

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, ITB & WTM

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