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Caribbean Tourism Month 2021 Message from the CTO

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (26 Oct. 2021) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) joins our member countries, allied and affiliate members and Caribbean tourism interests in celebrating Caribbean Tourism Month in November, reaffirming our purpose of Leading Sustainable Tourism – One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean. This year’s theme is, Caribbean Comeback.

It’s a theme that illustrates that as a region, we are on our way back from the devastating impact of the pandemic. Our member countries have worked tirelessly over the past 19 months to adapt to the ever-evolving environment thrust upon us by the pandemic. They have implemented a range of initiatives, and stringent protocols, to ensure post-Covid competitiveness and to rebuild confidence in the sector. One of the very positive signs of recovery, is that as the markets reopen, the region is welcoming an increasing number of flights, including direct service to destinations that are either never had such service before, or have not had direct service for several years.

In the third quarter, some of our member destinations recorded arrival numbers that rivalled, and in some instances, surpassed, the corresponding months in 2019. This by no means suggests that we are back to the pre-pandemic record numbers, and we remain fully aware of how quickly things can change with this virus. But it’s an encouraging sign that the Caribbean comeback is on.

The theme is also an invitation to visitors to come back to the Caribbean. Come back to the Caribbean that you love and are familiar with, to enjoy again everything that first attracted you to our region. Come back for the warm weather, the cuisine, the outdoors, the culture, the sunsets, the adventure. Come back for weddings and honeymoons, for hiking, the beach, the lakes and waterfalls, the flora and fauna and the friendly and welcoming people.

The CTO, in conjunction with our members, has planned a number of social media activities in observance of Caribbean Tourism Month, including a #CaribbeanComeback campaign. We encourage all of you to participate and to share the hashtag as widely as possible.

In addition to all of these enticing attributes which we invite you to come back to enjoy, we also wish to emphasise the Caribbean’s appeal as a region for wellness, healing and rejuvenation. In this regard, we wish to announce that 2022 will be the year of wellness in the Caribbean. As we grapple with the mental and physical toll that COVID-19 has had on us and its effect on our well-being, we offer the Caribbean as the place to come back to for wellness.

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Joint Communique for Caribbean World Tourism Day Virtual Conference Sept 27, 2021

The Future of Caribbean Tourism – Redefining the 3 S’s

As the Caribbean strives to emerge from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Caribbean tourism, it is critical that regional tourism stakeholders, related businesses, academia and development partners work together to further deliberate on current and pressing issues facing the growth of Caribbean tourism. Moreover, it is important that these deliberations result in innovative and creative solutions, committed actions and tangible results that would aid in the tourism sector recovery and resilience-building efforts.

This virtual conference was envisioned to commemorate World Tourism Day 2021 through a collaborative approach among Caribbean Tourism leaders and Regional and International Development Partners, thus demonstrating a major commitment to the sustainability and inclusive growth of tourism in the Caribbean, in recognition of the impact and value of the sector to the social and economic development of the Region.

Expanding upon this year’s World Tourism Day theme established by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, ‘Tourism for Inclusive Growth’, the conference titled “The Future of Caribbean Tourism- Redefining the 3 S’s”, sought to examine the challenges, opportunities and best practices for tourism resilience and recovery.
The 3 S’s ‘Social Inclusion, Sustainability, and Smart Destinations and Businesses’ have been identified as three key priorities, which are integral to the region’s recovery strategies and were central to the conference deliberations.

The collaborating agencies, having organized and participated in this gathering and envisioning the most desirable evolution of tourism across the regional landscape, reiterate our support for the advancement of Caribbean tourism, noting the sector’s role in contributing to the wider regional development agenda as follows:

Partnerships – We recognize the value of collaboration and inclusion and echo the sentiments of the UN Sustainable Development Goal #17 which states that a successful development agenda requires inclusive partnerships at the global, regional, national and local levels-built upon principles and values, and upon shared goals placing people and the planet at the centre.

Advocacy – We understand that for regional tourism to be socially inclusive, we must continue to engage in relevant research, meaningful discussions, and actions that would continually strengthen the objective of ‘leaving no one behind’ and provide a fair chance to the next generation to benefit from sustainable Caribbean tourism development.

Resilience – We are aware of the region’s vulnerabilities to the impacts of climate change, natural and anthropogenic hazards, and other global events, which have a significant impact on the region’s small open economies. Effective protocols for Disaster Risk Management (Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery) are pivotal pillars for the viability and long-term growth of tourism; and should incorporate climate adaptation strategies, business continuity planning, and standards and guidelines for effective health and safety
management.

Local Empowerment – We commend efforts to ensure that people in situations of vulnerability, including women, the youth, differently-abled persons, rural, indigenous and marginalized communities are meaningfully included in the tourism economy. We encourage the inclusion of all relevant stakeholders in tourism policy, planning and development activities.

Human Capital Development – We reiterate the importance of education and training in contributing to a highly-skilled tourism workforce and by extension the competitiveness of the regional tourism sector. We continue to support and advocate for academic, technical, vocational programs and capacity-building initiatives, to further enhance the skills and competencies of the region’s human resources.

Diversification – We endorse the principles and ethos of the Orange, Blue and Green Economies, which present untapped new opportunities to improve the inclusivity, profitability and sustainability of Caribbean tourism.

Technological Innovation – We note the role of technology to optimise business opportunities and efficiency, increase market access, and enhance the inter-connectivity of Caribbean Tourism for residents and visitors alike. We encourage tourism stakeholders to increase technology adoption in the systems and processes for destination marketing, visitor engagement, service delivery and in the tourism product experience across the value chain.

Knowledge and Information Sharing – We recognize the wealth of information and resources which exist within our industry; globally, regionally and locally, and with our various stakeholder organizations and institutions. We recognize and support where possible the sharing of data, research, reports and best practices that advance Social Inclusion, Sustainability, and Smart Destinations and Businesses.

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Message by Neil Walters, Secretary General (Acting) of the CTO in Observance of World Tourism Day Sept 27, 2021

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (26 Sept 2021_ – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the region’s tourism development agency, joins the global community in celebrating World Tourism Day 2021 under the theme, Tourism for Inclusive Growth.

In observance of the day, the CTO and approximately a dozen regional and international partners are collaborating on a virtual event aimed at highlighting and addressing the challenges we face in forging a sustainable tourism sector and identifying the opportunities to build a more socially inclusive, sustainable and smart sector.

It’s a clear sign of the importance we all place on collaboration and inclusion, a key plank of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #17, ‘Partnerships for Goals’ which emphasises inclusive partnerships at the global, regional, national and local levels and shared goals placing people and the planet at the centre of development.

World Tourism Day is also being celebrated at a time when the region’s tourism sector is beginning to emerge from the prolonged impact of COVID-19.  Some of our member countries have reported record stayover arrivals during the months of July and August, while others show their arrival numbers trending in the right direction and even approaching 2019 levels. We still have to be aware of the challenges and potential hurdles as we move to a recovery mindset, but these are encouraging signs that the hard work our member countries have put into adapting to the changing environment of the pandemic, is beginning to pay dividends. Our progress amidst the challenges gives hope to the millions of Caribbean nationals who depend on tourism for a living, either directly or indirectly.

In celebrating our incremental successes, this year’s theme is a reminder that, even as arrival numbers rise and tourism revenue increases, we begin to revise our measures of success to include an analysis of the social and economic benefits of the sector. The new tourism approach must ensure that our local communities participate in the renewed tourism economy. Similarly, additional focus must be placed on vulnerable groups, including women, the youth, the disabled and indigenous and marginalized communities, to ensure that they are meaningfully included in the tourism economy.

In its latest Caribbean Quarterly bulletin, the Inter-American Development Bank stated that in 2020, nine of the twelve Caribbean countries it reviewed suffered double-digit shock to real gross domestic product from the pandemic and drew a correlation between these results and the Tourism Dependency Index. These nine countries are in the top 20 most tourism-dependent countries globally.

As we look towards the future, sustainable tourism used as a development tool, at the forefront of the region’s economic recovery, can help to strengthen other sectors against the effects of future shocks. Sustainable tourism is already recognised as a contributor directly or indirectly to most of the UN sustainable development goals, including gender equality, decent work and economic growth.

The CTO has recognised that to achieve these goals, it’s imperative that we forge alliances and partnerships with organisations and institutions that play a meaningful role in contributing to the social and economic development of the region. One such example is our collaboration with the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility (CCPF) which is funding community-based tourism pilot projects using the cluster approach in rural and indigenous areas in three Caribbean countries.

By providing opportunities such as these to vulnerable groups, we enhance the capacity of Caribbean people to play a leading role in their own development. We also demonstrate that in addition to being a primary economic revenue earner for the Caribbean, tourism can be inclusive and by extension promote growth in all of our communities.

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Planeterra and CTO Launch Partnership Focused On Scaling Up

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (6 Aug 2021) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the leading global community tourism non-profit based in Canada, Planeterra, have joined forces to support community tourism in CTO member countries.

This strategic partnership aims to scale up community tourism throughout the Caribbean with the goal to enhance the social, economic and environmental well-being of communities in the region. The organisations will be seeking funding to build the capacity of enterprises, while encouraging community tourism enterprises towards the training and mentorship offered by Planeterra’s Global Community Tourism Network.

Four years ago the CTO launched a programme to support the continued development of community-based tourism in the Caribbean. This partnership with Planeterra is a further step in our regional tourism development strategy to support entrepreneurship and community development, and is timely in this current environment where we are restarting tourism.  The participation of local communities in the tourism product is a significant part of distributing the benefits of tourism to all aspects of our societies” said Neil Walters, the CTO’s acting secretary general.

Many community tourism enterprises have the ability to change lives and keep tourism dollars in the hands of local people, but they lack the support and training needed to develop product offerings, capture the travel market and draw enough customers. To address this, Planeterra launched the Global Community Tourism Network, which seeks to change the face of travel by putting communities at the centre of tourism’s efforts, and to connect them to travel businesses that can help them to build back better after the pandemic. This Network comprises more than 270 community tourism enterprises in 70 countries, all gaining training, mentorship and connection through Planeterra’s online resources and team, as well as market access.

“Planeterra is eager to partner with CTO to help communities gain access to the resources, community, and mentorship our organisation provides,” said Planeterra President Jamie Sweeting. “We are hopeful that this partnership will lead to an increase in support for community tourism in the Caribbean, and will increase the social, economic and environmental benefits that host communities see from the tourism industry.”

For more information on the Global Community Tourism Network, please visit communitytourism.org.

About Planeterra

Planeterra is the world’s leading non-governmental organization turning travel into impact in communities. Planeterra helps local organizations and communities use tourism as a catalyst to improve people’s lives, protect their natural environments, and celebrate their culture. Put simply, it is a better kind of tourism – improving the lives of community members as they provide travellers with better experiences. Planeterra is more than just an agent of change and driver of communal well-being, they are tested and trusted builders of self-esteem and pride. Pride that we can all share as well as take pleasure in – from uplifting communities through tourism.

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CTO Launches Caribbean Community Tourism Network

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (28 July, 2021) – Tourism product development authorities in the region now have a resource from which to draw when developing their community-based tourism (CBT) programmes.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has launched the Caribbean Community Tourism Network (CCTN) to provide a platform to support the continued development of CBT in the Caribbean. The network will facilitate the exchange of best practices among CTO member countries and interested tourism development partners and help identify capacity-building needs as well as challenges and opportunities for CBT development.

“Community-based tourism offers an opportunity to bridge the social and economic gap of local communities, allows community members a path to sustainable livelihoods, and is a conduit for the active participation and empowerment of local people in the tourism,” said Amanda Charles, the CTO’s sustainable tourism specialist. “This network provides an avenue for CTO members to share knowledge, resources, and best practices to improve community tourism experiences and economic impact.”

Among the functions of the CCTN are the promotion and support of regional development strategies in CBT, providing input into, and recommending activities and actions with a view to enhancing the visibility and value of CBT as a regional tourism product, and the exchange of experiences on national and regional initiatives.

The network is one of the initiatives of the CTO, which has identified CBT as a regional tourism development strategy, and is seeking to optimise its role in  supporting local livelihoods, stimulating entrepreneurship  and community social and economic development, while also creating authentic experiences and unique product offerings for visitors.

Other initiatives include a toolkit for product development, produced in partnership with the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility (CCPF). The toolkit includes a “how to” guide to assist communities and entrepreneurs develop profitable CBT experiences and enterprises, with information on product development, pricing, marketing and creating business plans. It also includes guidelines and templates to support experience design and product enhancement and a tool to measures communities’ capacity and CBT states of readiness.

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