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CTO to Present Lifetime Achievement Awards to Canadian Storyteller Rita Cox

rita coxTORONTO, Canada (7 Aug. 2019) – Retaining the history of the region is vital for future generations to understand their heritage. The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has found the perfect storyteller in Trinidad born Canadian Rita Cox who chronicles the Caribbean legacy, and will honour her with the Lifetime Achievement Award during the Media Day luncheon in Toronto on 22 Aug.

A librarian by profession, Cox is a renowned storyteller and admired leader in the community. She joined the Toronto public library as a children’s librarian in 1960 and in 1972 she became the head of the Parkdale branch where she launched literacy programmes and other initiatives that promoted multiculturalism throughout Toronto. During her tenure, Cox pioneered the library’s “Black Heritage and West Indian Resource Collection,” which was renamed in 1998 to the “Black and Caribbean Heritage Collection.” It soon became one of the most comprehensive collections of its kind in Canada and today, continues to be a source of pride for the community.

“The Caribbean Tourism Organization appreciates Rita Cox’s passion for promoting Caribbean heritage through the collection she developed for the Toronto public library as well as her storytelling events that pass our history on to the next generation,” said Sylma Brown, director of CTO-USA. “Her commitment to preserving Caribbean culture and dedication to keeping the region at the forefront of Canadian society over decades is the reason we are honouring her with the lifetime achievement award.”

Cox established “Cumbayah,” a festival of black heritage and storytelling. As a renowned storyteller who has entertained audiences worldwide, and she ensured the Toronto public library’s storytelling legacy by training a new generation of storytellers, many of whom are current library staff. After her retirement from the Toronto public library in 1995, Cox was appointed a citizenship court judge by the government of Canada.

Cox has won numerous awards, including the Canadian Library Association’s Public Service Award and the Black Achievement Award (1986). In 1997, Dr. Cox was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada for her outstanding work in storytelling and literacy. Both Wilfrid Laurier University and York University have awarded her honorary doctorate degrees.

 

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Caribbean Tourism Stakeholders Urged to Rethink Direction of the Industry

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (25 July. 2019) – Leaders in the Caribbean tourism industry have been advised that a rethink of the direction of the tourism industry to maximise the value of its natural and intrinsic assets is needed to create better selling points for destinations. The maximisation of these assets means that those who work in the industry must be empowered to keep driving it forward.

The suggestion came from the acting secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Neil Walters who was speaking at the Grenada Tourism Authority’s inaugural awards ceremony held at the Spice Island Beach Resort in Grenada. Walters stressed that stakeholders must embrace and develop the strengths of their people to keep the industry among the most competitive in the world.

“Yes, we can have the most beautiful properties, the best airports, the best seaports, but it is the people who make the Caribbean tourism product what it is. It is your welcoming and hospitable spirit which encourages visitors to return,” said Walters.

The acting SG said demands from visitors for experiences beyond the traditional ‘sun, sea and sand’, only served to enhance the need for the industry to equip the hospitality workforce to perform at the highest level.

“If we took a snapshot of tourism at this point in time, we will see that one of the strongest reasons for the continued growth in the number of persons visiting our shores is the spirit exuded by the amazing individuals who get up and go out and work on the front line every day.  The individuals who don’t just see it as a job but see the value of the service they are giving. That is the thing success stories in this industry are made of,” said Walters.

He said the trends towards experiential tourism call for the industry to shift away from excessive standardisation and embrace the unique culture of the destinations in the Caribbean.

The acting SG encouraged tourism leaders to leverage the natural beauty and infrastructural edge the region has to develop emerging areas such as community-based tourism.

“In all the examples of community-based tourism I have seen, the key selling point for the visitor has been the chance to come and be in that community, to experience that community, to experience the people of that community. These communities create the unified voice necessary to market and sell the product, and, in turn, sustain the community’s project,” said Walters, who emphasised such an approach must build on the existing model of hotels which form the bedrock of the thriving Caribbean tourism industry.

“What we have to strive for is stronger links between this model with its sea and sand and the experiences which lie sometimes unlocked, away from the sea shore. As we change to match the demands of the times and embrace the treasures of experiences which exist inland, we must re-educate ourselves to see the value that we often overlook. Facets of traditional life that we may see as less than noteworthy, visitors may see as fascinating,” said Walters.

Walters said the Caribbean must embrace its identity and take pride in elements of its culture that can also serve to boost the attractiveness of destinations to the modern day visitor.

“I know that in recent times, across the Caribbean we have seen food festivals emerging which promote indigenous cuisine, which are popular with visitors. Well, let’s not hold back on the traditional delicacies which we are sometimes hesitant to unleash on visitors. I am sure many of our visitors would love those experiences. Some of our countries have communities skilled in pottery. We may need to move away from just selling pottery to giving pottery lessons.  These are just a couple examples of the ways the things we do and how we live can become added value as we enhance our tourism industry” said Walters.

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Revamped Caribbean Education Charity Has New Name

NEW YORK, NY (20 June 2019) – Having this year expanded the areas of study for which it would provide financial support, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO)’s education charity now has a new name.

The CTO Foundation, launched in 1989 to assist Caribbean nationals pursuing further studies in tourism/hospitality and language, is now officially the CTO Scholarship Foundation.

“We renamed the foundation to clarify its purpose in the public eye so that everyone will understand that the goal of the foundation is to provide scholarships to Caribbean nationals who are seeking to advance themselves in the various fields associated with tourism in the Caribbean,” said Sylma Brown, director of CTO USA Inc and the foundation’s treasurer.

The CTO Scholarship Foundation is a 501(C)3 approved charity in the United States and “we wanted to ensure that potential donors knew that contributions are tax deductible under U.S. IRS laws,” Brown added.

The CTO Scholarship Foundation has the expressed aim of training and developing future leaders for the Caribbean tourism industry by funding studies in tourism and tourism-related subjects, hospitality and language. Since its inception, the foundation has generated over US$1 million in scholarship funds and has provided over 280 grants and scholarships. The money spent thus far has been raised from various fundraising efforts and through the very generous support of a few major corporations.

All money generated through fundraising is used for scholarships. The foundation is managed by a board of directors, comprising private and public sector individuals, who dedicate their time and talent to support and guide the charity’s efforts.

“We have been providing study grants and scholarships for more than 20 years and are very proud that the CTO Scholarship Foundation has made a difference in the lives of many Caribbean youth and working professionals and their respective families,” said Jacqueline Johnson, CTC, chairperson of the CTO Scholarship Foundation and president of Global Bridal Group.

“As we further the education of Caribbean nationals in the tourism industry we equip them to lead their countries to greater prosperity in the future as tourism is the leading driver of foreign exchange in the region,” Johnson said, adding: “There is nothing more important that one can do today than prepare for tomorrow.”

In order to provide more opportunities for Caribbean nationals pursuing higher education and careers in the tourism industry, the foundation enhanced and expanded its programme earlier this year by introducing scholarships of up to $5000 in public relations and communications; tourism education and human resources development; hotel, resort, and villa development, design and planning; and aviation and air transport technologies. A master’s degree scholarship of no less than US$5,000 is also being offered for studies in tourism-related disciplines, including language, agriculture, fisheries, horticulture, event management, interior design, medical tourism, architecture, sports, culture and heritage, environmental protection and preservation, while study grants of US$2500 are being offered to those seeking to improve their skills in any tourism-related field of study.

Individuals who wish to make a contribution to the CTO Scholarship Foundation can do so via its GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/cto-scholarship-foundation.   Interested corporations should contact Sylma Brown at CTO directly: Tel: (212) 635-9530; E-mail: [email protected].

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Hugh Riley Retires as CTO Secretary General After Ten Years at the Helm

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (23 April, 2019) – The region’s tourism development agency is to begin the search for a new secretary general to replace the departing Hugh Riley.

Riley, who was appointed to the top post at the Barbados-headquartered Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) in August 2009 after acting for a year, has gone on pre-retirement leave ahead of his departure at the end of June this year. The organisation’s director of finance, Neil Walters, will act in the position until a successor is appointed.

The secretary general is the public face and chief spokesperson of the CTO, and provides the organisation with visionary leadership, strong direction and clarity to its policy development. The holder of the post is responsible for implementing the vision of the organisation based on the strategic direction set by the council of ministers and commissioners of tourism and the CTO board of directors.

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CTO Names Gilman Figaro as its 2019 Distinguished Caribbean Citizen

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) will present its “Distinguished Caribbean Citizen Award” to Gilman Figaro, founder and chairman of the SUNSHINE Awards, for promoting the Caribbean’s culture around the globe by gripping audiences with exciting and entertaining art forms, including dance, music and poetry.

Figaro will be honoured during the Caribbean Tourism Industry Awards programme which recognises excellence in promoting the Caribbean and honours individuals whose outstanding, passionate and dedicated work has contributed to the development of the region. The esteemed awards dinner takes place on Thursday, 6 June, during Caribbean Week New York, when the Big Apple is captivated with Caribbean flair, pulsating energy and colourful sounds.

“The Caribbean Tourism Organization recognises Gilman Figaro’s drive for promoting Caribbean culture through the creative arts,” said Sylma Brown, Director, CTO-USA. “His untiring hard work, dedication and commitment to positioning the Caribbean as an important region for all art forms are praiseworthy and for that reason we will honour him with the Distinguished Caribbean Citizen Award.”

Figaro was born in Trinidad and migrated to the United States two years after graduating high school. His determination to enhance the integrity and global awareness of Caribbean art forms led him to create the SUNSHINE Awards. This organisation recognises excellence in the performing arts, education, science and sports of the various Caribbean countries.

Always placing a great emphasis on education, Figaro established the SUNSHINE Awards Student Recognition Programme which, annually, recognises and applauds the scholastic achievements of the top students from selected Caribbean island.

Figaro also co-authored “Song for Montserrat“, which brought together an ensemble of 119 top performing artistes from across the Caribbean in a fundraising concert for families in Montserrat who had lost their homes during the volcanic eruption of 1995.

Figaro also scripted and composed the First Annual Indo-Caribbean Music Awards for Jamaica Me Crazy Records for which he adopted a format comparable to the Grammy Awards. He produced and penned the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College’s First Annual Steelband Festival titled “The Pride of the Caribbean,” leading Figaro to subsequently create four shows for well-known pianists, as well as other successful musical endeavours.

Driven by his passion for the Caribbean and its art forms, Figaro has received multiple awards highlighting his dedication to the performing arts, music and Caribbean communities.

 

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Social Enterprise Award Added to the CTO’s Sustainable Tourism Awards Programme

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (27 March 2019) – Caribbean enterprises that act as social change agents through tourism innovation will be recognised by the region’s tourism development agency.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is this year introducing the Tourism Social Enterprise award to its sustainable tourism awards programme to demonstrate in a tangible way its support for businesses or individuals that use creative ways to show how tourism can support societal development.

“Social entrepreneurship is exemplified when an enterprise’s core business activity has positive spin-off benefits to solve or bridge community-based problems. This business development approach is highly progressive and one which the CTO seeks to promote, as it focuses on creating positive changes in society through innovation,” says Amanda Charles, the CTO’s sustainable tourism development specialist.

“The award will recognise and validate the efforts and contribution of business ventures that are making a dedicated and tangible commitment to community development as an expression of their corporate social responsibility policy. It seeks to identify entities that are not just in the business of tourism, but rather those that have gone further to leverage tourism as a strategic means of addressing distinctive challenges faced by people in society,” Charles adds.

This Social Enterprise award is being introduced in collaboration with the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility – a partnership between the Caribbean Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Government of Canada and the UK Department for International Development – which supports innovative and practical solutions that stimulate economic growth and increase productivity in micro small and medium enterprises.

The new award is open to public and private sector entities, tourism enterprises, communities or individuals that seek to address specific social ills and unmet needs while generating widespread benefits from tourism business activities via tourism business activities. It is one of eight categories of awards to be presented at the CTO’s Sustainable Tourism Conference scheduled to be held in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in August.

 Applicants may also submit entries the following categories:

  • Excellence in Sustainable Tourism Award
  • Destination Stewardship Award
  • Sustainable Accommodation Award
  • Community Benefit Award
  • Culture and Heritage Protection Award
  • Nature Conservation Award
  • Agro-Tourism Award

The closing date for receipt of applications is 16 June, 2019. For more information, including entry guidelines click on the following link: https://ctostawards2019.pgtb.me/rTV0cJ.

CTO’s sustainable tourism awards programme has been in existence for 15 years and recognises unique and innovative tourism products that embrace sustainable tourism concepts and core values, and help to enhance tourism product offerings. A panel of experts selected by the CTO, representing various sectors of the tourism industry at the national, regional and international levels, will judge the awards.

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