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Caribbean Leaders Agree to Fast Track Measures to Ease Caribbean Travel

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (31 July, 2017) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) are encouraged by the support of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders for initiatives to facilitate travel and stimulate economic growth through tourism.

The CTO, with the support of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, presented a number of short, medium and long-term proposals to the regional leaders at their recent summit in Grenada, aimed at positioning the Caribbean as a thriving world-class tourism, and bolstering the region’s economic strength and stability.

In the presentation entitled Tourism in the Region: Building a Caribbean Tourism Development and Marketing Initiative, the region’s tourism leaders recommended advancing research to better assess tourism’s economic impact and the region’s competitiveness.  They also discussed removing travel barriers, stimulating travel to and within the Caribbean, supporting the development of Caribbean talent through a coordinated approach to tourism-related education and training, and strengthening the creative industries and economic linkages to tourism.

Marketing and public relations of the Caribbean brand and creating a public-private sector entity financed and managed collaboratively also received consideration at the meeting.

The heads of government have said the proposed initiatives were fully aligned with CARICOM’s own strategic plan and were also in furtherance of the strategic plan for tourism services.

The leaders have also said they recognised the opportunities presented by the recommended strategies, including a strong focus on marketing, aimed at stimulating sustainable growth in tourism.

In a communique issued after the summit, the leaders said they had agreed to support various public-private sector initiatives, broaden engagement with Caribbean countries, companies and multilateral organizations to support a regional tourism marketing and development initiative and adopt and implement travel facilitation measures to stimulate economic growth.

“Heads of Government agreed that the establishment of a single airspace should be pursued and mandated the Secretariat to work with Caribbean Aviation Safety and Security Oversight System (CASSOS) and relevant agencies to define a roadmap and identify the necessary resources for its implementation,” the communique reads.

However, the heads of government  said they recognised the need for the administrative strengthening of the legal, operational and institutional framework as well as the appropriate resourcing of the CASSOS to enable it to discharge its mandate as an effective and efficient regional safety oversight organisation.

The CTO and CHTA have long lobbied for the removal of the hurdles that make it difficult to travel to, and through, the region, arguing the removal of many of the restrictions would encourage greater regional and international travel and stimulate economic growth.

Among its recommendations is a new multilateral air services agreement, which the leaders said “only required resolution of very few matters”.

Therefore, they mandated the CARICOM secretariat to work with member countries “to enable signature at the next inter-sessional meeting” in February 2018.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Corporate News

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Caribbean Development Bank supports CTO’s Service and Business Excellence Programme

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, (25 July, 2017) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO)’s continued efforts at promoting service and business excellence in the region’s tourism and hospitality sector has received a financial boost from the regional financial institution that focuses on harmonious economic growth and development in the Caribbean.

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), through its Caribbean Technological Consultancy Services (CTCS) Network is providing US$223,312 in support of the two key components of the Hospitality Assured (HA) Caribbean certification programme managed by the CTO as part of its product development and service quality thrust.

The funds will be used to engage business advisors and assessors to help strengthen the business performance and overall competitiveness of tourism-related micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in ten CDB borrowing member countries through the HA programme.

“Our region needs to boost its reputation for service and business excellence and pay attention to the overall visitor experience. The Hospitality Assured framework provides the tool to drive this effort,” said Bonita Morgan, the CTO’s director of resource mobilization and development, and the CTO official with overall responsibility for the HA programme.

“We are thankful to the CDB, through the CTCS Network, for supporting this effort to help Caribbean tourism businesses shore up their competitiveness.”

“For several Caribbean economies, tourism is an engine of growth, and MSMEs have the potential to make significant contributions to the sector. CDB is pleased to be supporting CTO in delivering the HA Caribbean certification programme, and deeply value the role it plays in helping regional MSMEs deliver an even higher quality product and experience in an increasingly competitive global tourism market,” said Darran Newman, acting division chief, technical cooperation division, CDB.

Over the next year 30 businesses in the ten countries – Anguilla, Belize, the British Virgin Islands, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, and Turks & Caicos Islands will receive technical assistance as well as assessment services through the CDB funding.

The regional lending institution’s support for HA dates back to 2014 when, through the United Kingdom Department for International Development’s Caribbean Aid for Trade and Regional Integration Trust Fund, managed by the Bank,  it provided funding support for six businesses in Grenada to participate in the certification programme.

Last year, CDB, through the CTCS network, provided financial support to conduct a week-long business advisors training workshop organized by the CTO to equip 15 business advisors to provide technical assistance to tourism-related businesses participating  in the HA certification programme.

CTCS is managed within CDB’s Technical Cooperation Division and operated in cooperation with regional and national institutions, laboratories, industrial enterprises, and consultants. It comprises a network of institutions and experts, and has as its primary aim, transferring knowledge, skills and technology to improve managerial and operational efficiency and competitiveness of MSMEs through the provision of technical assistance.

Hospitality Assured is a certification programme promoting service and business excellence in tourism and hospitality companies.  It is owned by the Institute of Hospitality in the United Kingdom, and managed by the Caribbean Tourism Organization in the region.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Corporate News, Hospitality Assured

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World Environment Day Message 2017

The Caribbean today lends its energy, its people and its landscapes, to the observance of World Environment Day, with the rest of the global community.

This year, World Environment Day highlights the symbiotic relationship between people and nature, but also encourages the world to unplug from worries and from technological anchors and be at one with nature.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is pleased that the theme this year, “Connecting People to Nature”, implores the world to get outdoors, to appreciate nature’s beauty and importance, and to honour the call to protect the earth that we share.

The theme seems such a natural fit for the Caribbean which, so clearly epitomizes what the United Nations must have envisaged when it said: “On 5 June, go outside and show us that you’re #WithNature.”

There can be no better global invitation to experience the Caribbean, the corner of the world where consistently connecting people with nature is the bedrock of our tourism product. There can be no stronger international endorsement of our Year of Adventure, during which we encourage visitors and locals alike to, among other activities, indulge in multiple personal experiences with nature. There can be no greater universal recognition of our purpose, Leading Sustainable Tourism, One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean.

The Caribbean is one of few places on earth where it is perfectly fine to spend the day lazing around beneath the sun, and where hiking, horseback riding, snorkelling and even a bit of farming brings joy and livelihood to visitors and locals alike. In our warm and welcoming region, visitors are encouraged to lose track of time while exploring the great outdoors.

The CTO fully endorses the call for each of us to reflect on the extent to which we are part of nature, and how intimately we depend upon it. As the world accepts the challenge to find fun and exciting ways to forge vital relationships with the environment, we invite you to journey this path with us.

Our pledge on this World Environment Day is to encourage every traveller and every citizen to adopt as a lifelong mantra, respect for the environment and a true connection with nature. The Caribbean understands the joy that bond can bring and the importance of preserving it for future generations.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Corporate News

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Joint Statement by the CTO and International Union for Conservation of Nature on International Day for Biological Diversity

Monday 22 May, 2017: As the world comes together in recognition of the plethora of organisms and species that inhabit planet earth, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is pleased to join with International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in celebration of International Day for Biological Diversity 2017.

This year, under the theme “Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism” the CTO is particularly pleased that the global community continues to pay serious attention to the significance of tourism as a driving force for sustainable development.

CTO is acutely aware that the Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region in the world, but it is not often recognised that there is a direct correlation between our region’s biological diversity and the scale of our tourism activity. Without question, Caribbean tourism products utilize the natural environment for myriad value propositions, and so whether one chooses to engage in whale-watching in Dominica, birdwatching in Trinidad and Tobago, snorkelling in the Cayman Islands or hiking in St. Kitts and Nevis, the biodiversity found in the Caribbean appeals to a wide range of visitors, and creates lasting observational and experiential memories for them to treasure.

In fact, the theme “Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism” heralds a growing partnership between IUCN and the CTO, with one such output represented through IUCN’s sponsorship of the Biodiversity Conservation Award within CTO’s 2017 Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Awards.

We are remarkably blessed in the Caribbean with un-spoilt natural environments that not only lead to an enviable quality of life for our people, but the development of tourism as an economic pillar that allows us to share our rich habitat with the rest of mankind. It is therefore critical that we recognise and form partnerships with the champions that actively work to maintain balance with our sensitive biological treasures.

CTO and IUCN are pleased to collaborate to raise awareness and promote action towards the important contribution of sustainable tourism to economic growth and to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Our actions matter, and CTO and IUCN are pleased to work together to ensure that the Caribbean remains mindful of both our environmental blessings and our responsibilities not just for present enjoyment, but for the benefit of future generations.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Corporate News

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CTO and Travel Foundation launch online training course in sustainable tourism

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados  (15 May, 2017) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the Caribbean’s tourism development agency, and the Travel Foundation, the international agency that promotes the benefits of tourism to people and the environment, are today launching a free online sustainable tourism course to help increase knowledge of how to review and plan for the sustainable development of Caribbean tourist destinations.

The capacity building online training programme, which is available free of charge to ministries, government departments, tourism authorities and tourist boards engaged in destination management in CTO member countries, focuses on the practical dimensions of sustainable tourism, and seeks to introduce participants to key considerations during the planning and design of tourism activities.

The course will examine what makes tourism both constructive and destructive to host communities, suggest tools for conservation and responsible use of resources, and provide strategies which countries can use to develop and implement their own national initiatives.

“The Caribbean Tourism Organization is pleased to partner with the Travel Foundation to offer this course which provides a roadmap to destination success, with the aim of enhancing regional knowledge and competencies in the theory and practice of sustainable tourism. It is well known that the region is the world’s most tourism-dependent region, therefore, it is imperative that tourism is developed in a manner that ensures long-term benefits and value for Caribbean residents and visitors alike, even as we endeavour to position ourselves as the world’s most desirable, year-round warm weather destination,” the CTO’s secretary general Hugh Riley said.

Benchmarked with good practice case studies, the course will sharpen participants’ ability to plan the development of their local tourism industry in a way that meets the needs of both visitors and host communities, creates a more resilient economy, protects tourism assets and secures the future of Caribbean destinations.

The six modules cover key sustainability topics to include understanding sustainable tourism in the global context of climate change; increasing the socio-economic benefits of tourism; protecting cultural and built heritage; managing the environmental impacts of tourism and planning the sustainable development of each destination.

“At the Travel Foundation, we recognise how important it is for destination authorities to have the knowledge, resources and information available to make sound decisions that will ensure the sustainability of tourism long into the future.  We are working with the CTO because they too have this mindset, and want to ensure the Caribbean is a region where future tourism growth promotes thriving communities and a healthy environment. Together we can work towards achieving this goal,” declared Salli Felton, chief executive officer of the Travel Foundation, which has developed the training.

The course is being offered with an open timeline, but for maximum impact it is recommended that individuals complete the programme within two to four weeks of commencement. Participants are also encouraged to adopt the principles and adapt the best practices showcased in order to enhance the overall quality of their tourism value proposition.

The training course is part of a broader cooperation agreement between the two organizations, which will sign a memorandum of understanding during Caribbean Week New York next month to provide a framework of cooperation and to facilitate collaboration in areas of common interest to contribute to sustainable tourism development in the Caribbean region.

To register for the free online course, please click on the following link: travelfoundationtraining.com/caribbean

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Corporate News, Travel Foundation

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CTO teams up with St. Kitts to host Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (9 May, 2017) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the region’s tourism development agency, is partnering with the ministry of tourism in St. Kitts to host a sustainable tourism forum, with a focus on climate change.

Themed, Good for Us, Better for All, the 6-8 September Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum is being held in observance of International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and will bring together local, regional, and international representatives from public and private sector tourism entities, as well as development agencies that offer programming in sustainable tourism, for three days of interactive engagements.

Major elements will include best practice sharing and strategic consultations for a CTO climate adaptation project funded by the Caribbean Development Bank, in order to strengthen holistic destination management approaches in the Caribbean.

“The CTO is honoured to partner with St. Kitts and Nevis to host this forum, which will explore various facets of sustainable tourism, in view of the threats and opportunities for regional tourism development, as a result of climate variability and climate change,” said Amanda Charles, the CTO’s sustainable tourism specialist.

The winner of the 2004 CTO/Travel Mole Sustainable Tourism Award in Destination Stewardship, St Kitts is one of the first destinations in the world to be accepted as an early adopter of the Global Sustainable Tourism Council’s criteria for destinations. It also is a founding member of the Sustainable Destination Alliance of the Americas, an initiative by the CTO, the Organization of American States, Sustainable Travel International and Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited to promote sustainable destination management in the Caribbean and Central America.

Its many initiatives include the establishment of the Heart of St. Kitts Foundation and Sustainability Charter, which helps businesses understand how their operations contribute to destination-wide sustainability, and to support community projects that make St. Kitts a more sustainable place to live and experience.

“There is an inexorable link between tourism activity and climate change. Tourism therefore must play an integral role in the global response to climate change; a charge St. Kitts takes very seriously. Through the investment of considerable resources into sustainable tourism, St. Kitts is changing the way tourism is perceived and practiced globally, regionally, and at home,” minister of tourism Lindsay Grant said.

The Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum will also feature experiential field visits, a meeting of CTO’s Sustainable Tourism Technical Committee, and winning presentations from CTO’s Primary School Tourism Writing Competition. The event culminates with the presentation ceremony for CTO’s 2017 Sustainable Tourism Awards which recognise regional sustainability champions.

Organising partners include the CTO, the St. Kitts Ministry of Tourism, the St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council, and Sustainable Travel International. For sponsorship opportunities, and to signal your interest in attending please contact Amanda Charles at [email protected] or  Kennedy Pemberton at [email protected]

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Corporate News

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CTO seeks to strengthen relationship with Emirates Holidays

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (24 April, 2017) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the region’s tourism development agency, is seeking to strengthen its relationship with Emirates Holidays, the largest airline tour operator in the Middle East, as it seeks to broaden the Caribbean’s appeal in the Arabian Market.

Meetings with the tour operator have been scheduled this week during Arabian Travel Market (ATM) from 24-27 April, to build on the relationship which began last year when the CTO conducted an in-house training programme in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) for 40 Emirates Holidays reservations, sales and operation staff to familiarize them with the Caribbean product. This after Emirates airlines had announced fights from Dubai to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with a code share agreement with Jet Blue, that opened up numerous Caribbean destinations to the United Arab Emirates.

Joining the CTO UK team at this year’s event – which will include meetings with Royal Caribbean International and other tour operators and social media influencers from the UAE, India and Norther Europe, as well as Caribbean destination briefings with key travel agents within the market – are Jamaica’s minister of tourism Ed Bartlett and officials of the Bahamas ministry of tourism.

“Arabian Travel Market presents a great opportunity for the Caribbean to take our product and services to a wider market. There is a great deal of interest in the Caribbean, and our sporting and cricketing legends have really helped to peak interest in the Caribbean throughout the Middle East and Asia,” said Carol Hay, the CTO’s director of marketing for the UK and Europe.

“We are particularly excited about the opportunity to host two destination briefings for the travel agents, as we know that product knowledge and networking is key to expanding our reach in these markets. It’s also important to have a sustained presence at international tourism events; tourism is an international business, and it is import to be in the arena where important decisions and contacts are made.”

Following ATM the CTO will host and present roadshows across Ireland, Scotland, Scandinavia and Finland from 9-23 May, visiting  Belfast, Dublin and Cork in Ireland; Bergen (Norway), Stockholm (Sweden), Helsinki (Finland) and Aarhus (Denmark); and Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland.

The CTO recently returned from hosting six Caribbean roadshows in France, visiting the cities of Rouen, Caen, Rennes, Nantes, Angers and Tours, and was joined by AMResorts, Barceló Hotels Group, the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board & Film Commission, Discover Dominica Authority and the Jamaica Tourist Board.  The Bahamas ministry of tourism also supplied brochures and a small presentation.

These partners had the opportunity to network and present their destinations and products to over 100 travel agents and tour operators at the events, which attracted key industry professionals from the French market, all interested in learning more about the Caribbean region.

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