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Community-Based Tourism is an opportunity for MSMEs to become beneficiaries and guardians of well-developed strategies say UNDP and CTO

Bridgetown April 1st, 2022 — As part of its goal to support the recovery of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the United Nations Development Programme UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean has recently formalized a partnership with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), which will assist in enhancing the knowledge of tourism-based MSMEs in the areas of Community-based Tourism (CBT).

This support is multi-pronged in approach and aims to help MSMEs by converting the CBT Enterprise Handbook, jointly developed by the CTO and the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility (CCPF), into a self-paced and user-friendly online course. Through this capacity-building initiative, which will be led by the CTO, tourism stakeholders will be provided with access to convenient, up to date and innovative training to support their CBT development efforts, improve their business skills and productivity. The Online Course will be hosted via the recently launched Caribbean Tourism Institute and include animated lectures, activity work sheets, case studies, videos and knowledge-test assessments that will form part of a user-focussed interactive e-learning package.

“In order to create a more sustainable and inclusive tourism industry, there must be capacity building for both public and private stakeholders within the industry,” Valerie Cliff, Resident Representative UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean noted. “Community-based tourism provides the opportunity for tourists to have authentic experiences while ensuring that MSMEs are also beneficiaries and guardians of well-developed tourism strategies, which embraces the unique cultural heritage of the region. To realise this vision, collaboration with stakeholders such as the CTO, the lead regional organisation on tourism, is critical, if we want to strengthen the capacity of MSMEs throughout the region.”  She added, highlighting the need for greater collaboration with regional tourism stakeholders, as a conduit for regional transformation in the tourism sector.

The collaboration is being delivered in the frame of the UNDP Future Tourism Project, which aims to create socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable value chains. The Future-Tourism project was developed out of a need to adapt to the new post-COVID-19 environment and to build resilience within the economic sectors of the region. This collaboration with the CTO is one of many collaborative efforts, which seek to improve the long-term socioeconomic and cultural interests of the region.

CTO’s Acting Secretary General, Mr. Neil Walters, speaking on the collaboration, expressed his appreciation to the UNDP for the support and technical assistance to the CTO and by extension, the regional tourism sector. He added, “the CTO has identified CBT as a regional tourism development strategy. This is further justified by the shift in tourism demand enabling the evolution of niche markets and specially curated tourism products in the areas of rural and indigenous tourism, heritage and wellness tourism. As we herald a new era of Caribbean tourism, industry resilience and recovery should incorporate the introduction of innovative ideas for product diversification and enhancement, and capacity-building for various stakeholders including MSMEs to navigate the new normal and generate more direct benefits from tourism”.

The Online Course will facilitate delivery of training to the widest possible regional audience, and is expected to enhance CBT know-how, improve quality standards in the region, and contribute to the success and viability of MSMEs in host communities. Participants will obtain a Certificate for successful completion of the course, which will add value to regional populations that have scarce opportunities for professional development.

The UNDP Future Tourism project aims to assist governments with identifying and implementing tourism revitalisation strategies, as well as enhancing the resilience of MSMEs to external shocks while advancing their recovery and supporting digital transformation. With UNDP’s partnership with the CTO, phase 2 which aims to provide technical support for MSME retooling and access to markets within the tourism value chain, MSMEs will benefit from the additional support of the self-paced course which will provide an opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills.

As part of its commitment to promote economic diversification, job creation and resilience with the “Blue Economy for Green Islands” vision, UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean aims to continue to leverage partnerships with key stakeholders in the region. UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, in partnership with governments and stakeholders, remains dedicated to the advancement of inclusive and sustainable development throughout the region and the creation of resilient communities which can withstand shocks and crises through targeted projects and programmes.

About the United Nations Development Programme, Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean

UNDP is the leading United Nations organisation fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated lasting solutions for people and planet. Learn more at or follow at @UNDPBarbados

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Caribbean Tourism Professionals Receive Certification in Sustainable Tourism Destination Management

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (22 Feb. 2022) – Close to 20 senior tourism professionals from the region are now certified in sustainable destination management after completing a six-course programme designed by the George Washington University International Institute of Tourism Studies through a partnership with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).

The programme, which exposes the participants to practical tools that facilitate the successful planning, development, management and marketing of sustainable tourism destinations and businesses, also presents them with the opportunity to improve their professional standing, expand their industry network, and deepen their understanding of tourism’s ability to contribute to environmental, social and economic goals.

Already, nearly 50 participants from CTO member countries, including permanent secretaries and directors of tourism, have completed at least one of the six-course online programme, 18 of whom have completed the full curriculum.

“We are pleased to see how this partnership with the International Institute for Tourism Studies, which was envisioned to equip tourism professionals across our membership with the skills needed to move the sector into the future, has been embraced by so many,” said Faye Gill, the CTO membership services director and the programme lead at the CTO. “We congratulate everyone who has enrolled in the professional certificate course on the success achieved and we look forward to seeing even more of our tourism leaders take up the challenge to broaden their knowledge and build on their expertise.”

Also commenting on the success of the collaboration, Seleni Matus, the institute’s executive director, said: “We are thrilled with the broad success of our partnership with the CTO through which we jointly offer a professional certificate in sustainable tourism destination management. Many tourism directors are graduates, as are professional staff from destination organisations throughout the region.  Because tourism is critically important to Caribbean economies, George Washington University is committed to working closely with the CTO to introduce new professional development programmes that will aid Caribbean nations in tackling relevant industry issues such as visitor management, product development and climate change adaptation.”

Each of the six self-managed, expert-led courses is offered over a one-week period. The six core courses include an introduction to sustainable tourism, destination management, destination marketing, product development, destination investment and finance and destination policy and planning.  Students must complete the six online courses to earn a sustainable tourism destination management certificate.

The certificate programme will be offered in three-course sets twice in 2022, with the first course scheduled to begin in June and the second in October.

About the George Washington University International Institute of Tourism Studies 

For more than 30 years, the International Institute of Tourism Studies has been a global leader in tourism education, research, and consulting. We are helping to build a sustainable industry that balances visitor interests with destination well-being by providing guidance and support to community development and governance projects around the world. We also offer professional certificate programs in cultural heritage tourism, destination management and event management to prepare the next generation of doers, leaders and thinkers in these growth fields.

For more information on the GW International Institute of Tourism Studies, please visit and follow GW IITS on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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Statement on the Passing of Dr. Jean Holder, Former CTO Secretary General

The funeral service for Mr Holder held on February 18, 2022 can be viewed at:


BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (26 Jan 2022) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization today joins the rest of the Caribbean in mourning the loss of Dr. Jean Holder, the father of regional tourism development. The late Dr. Holder spent more than 30 years of his professional life leading the development and expansion of the sector that would become the region’s main foreign exchange earner and the engine of economic growth.

The Caribbean, and we may argue the greater world of tourism, truly has lost one of its pioneering sons. Dr. Holder’s progressive leadership during the formative years of Caribbean tourism distinguished him as a pillar of the region’s tourism development. As a dedicated regionalist, he oversaw tourism’s growth from infancy to its current various stages of maturity. Indeed, elements of the original Caribbean tourism ethos forged by the organizations which he led can be found in virtually every Caribbean nation, virtually every community and anywhere in the region where the tourism seed has been sown.

Dr. Holder sometimes joked that when he was hired in September 1974 to head the newly established Caribbean Tourism Research and Development Centre (CTRC), he was a man “whose only contact with tourism was as a tourist.” That organization had a broad mandate for tourism education and training, tourism planning and research, as well as statistics. What he sought to create was a regional development agency which operated in the ‘field of tourism’ to build developmental change and economic growth. By the time of his retirement, one could not speak of Caribbean tourism without mentioning his name.

In January 1989, when the Caribbean Tourism Association – the body formed in New York in 1951 to market the region – merged with the CTRC to form the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Dr. Holder was the man at the helm of the newly formed regional organization, with reach into North America and eventually the UK and Europe. Among his first priorities was to seek to change the course of Caribbean tourism, in anticipation of the dawn of the 21st century and the new developments and alliances that were at the time seen as visionary but are now part of our everyday reality. Today, the CTO stands proudly as a visible symbol of his success in building a development vehicle for the Caribbean tourism sector. His ultimate vision being grounded in the fact that, as a dynamic sector, tourism demands a constant action of development, even as we promote and market the uniqueness and diversity that exists in our Caribbean countries.

Never one to back away from a challenge, after retiring from the CTO, Dr. Holder used the regional alliances he had forged during his tenure at the CTRC and the CTO to add his mark to the regional carrier LIAT, which he led as chairman until late 2019.

Those of us who worked with Dr. Holder can attest to him truly being a mentor, subtly encouraging and, as if by osmosis, imparting his insights to you. This continued, even after he moved on from active professional life, when neither his age nor incursions on his health dampened his resolve to be a positive influence, to make a significant difference and to keep his finger on the pulse of the Caribbean.

The CTO council of ministers and commissioners of tourism, its board of directors, allied members, and staff share the region’s grief and feel the sense of loss at Dr. Holder’s passing. He will be missed, but the mark he has made on this region will be long remembered.

We extend condolences to his daughters, Janet and Caroline, and to his entire family.
May he rest in eternal peace.

Click here to add your tribute to Dr. Jean Holder to this site.

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CTO Launches Online Training and Development Learning Centre

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (6 Dec, 2021) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has reached agreement with the Nova Scotia, Canada-based e-learning courseware development company, Velsoft, to further advance the regional tourism development agency’s virtual training programme.

As part of the memorandum of understanding, Velsoft will provide CTO access and hosting to its learning management system and manage the Caribbean Tourism Institute, the CTO’s online campus developed by the Canadian firm.

The new portal is an open online educational, training and development learning centre designed to provide affordable access to training opportunities for everyone who works, or aspires to work, in the Caribbean tourism and hospitality sector.

“Velsoft has been working closely with us to help us realise one of our key human resources development objectives of increasing the access of Caribbean nationals to high quality training and educational opportunities,” said Neil Walters, the CTO’s acting secretary general. “This partnership has allowed us to develop and offer this virtual training hub and will continue to help us in our mission to develop and design relevant e-learning content, which will benefit our tourism and hospitality sector.”

From its inception, the CTO has been a strong proponent of human resources development in the tourism industry and has as one its strategic objectives, to assist its member countries in developing and strengthening their human capital to better enable them to offer high levels of professional service.

The launch of the online training platform and courses is an important step in achieving this objective and to support ongoing training and build regional and institutional capacity.

“What the Caribbean Tourism Institute presents us with is a blended approach to learning, utilising synchronous and asynchronous delivery methods as this online platform will allow for self-paced instruction but will also offer occasions when it will host real-time training and development sessions,” said Sharon Banfield, the CTO’s director of resource mobilisation and development.

As part of the agreement, Velsoft will provide all technologies to convert CTO courses into e-learning and will allow the institute full access to its non-accredited courses, which will be promoted under the institute’s brand.

“Velsoft is excited to partner with the Caribbean Tourism Organization on the ambitious initiative to raise the collective level of skills in the Caribbean’s tourism sector. The Caribbean Tourism Institute represents the easiest and most cost-effective way to provide personalized training that is both culturally and contextually relevant,” said Jim Fitt, chief executive of Velsoft.

“Our intention is to release at least two new online courses each month as a way of ensuring the Caribbean Tourism Institute maintains its commitment to ensuring the latest and most applicable training is made available to the over 2.5 million professionals in the Caribbean’s hospitality and tourism sector, ” he added.

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CTO Hosts “Caribbean Comeback” Webinar for Travel Advisers

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (11 Nov. 2021) – Travel advisers who sell the Caribbean will be brought up to date with the latest travel developments in the region when the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) hosts an online educational session next week.

Twenty CTO member countries will share information on the latest protocols, new flights and hotel openings, and other developments.

The webinar is part of a programme of activities by the CTO and its member countries in observance of Caribbean Tourism Month 2021, which has as its theme, Caribbean Comeback.

The theme is meant to emphasise that the region is on its way back from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and is also an invitation to visitors to come back to the Caribbean.

During the month the CTO and its member countries will undertake a social media campaign using the hashtag #CaribbeanComeback and live demonstrations, including a cultural and culinary festival on Wednesday 24 November.

The travel advisers’ webinar begins at 10:00am Eastern time (3:00pm in the UK) on Thursday 18 November. Interested agents can register at

Introduced in 2011, Caribbean Tourism Month has as its primary objectives the creation of opportunities to raise awareness among the people of the Caribbean as to the importance of tourism to the development of the region; the generation of media coverage of the Caribbean tourism product and each destination’s local tourism product; and the celebration of the diversity of the Caribbean tourism product.

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