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Five new members join the CTO UK Chapter Board of Directors

The Caribbean Tourism Organisation announced the appointment of four new members to its UK Chapter Board of Directors, as well as the full slate of board members for 2018. Joining the Board of Directors are Jenny Peart, Lindsay Ingram, Cherrie Osborne, Jane Hansom, whilst Marc James was re-elected for another term.

All five of our elected Board members embody the spirit of the Caribbean and bring talent, expertise and energy to the table. We are very fortunate to have them by our side as we continue to strengthen the CTO’s focus on developing new and scalable innovative ideas to drive brand awareness of the Caribbean region. We welcome the addition of these outstanding new board members”, said Colin Pegler, Managing Director, Resort Marketing International and Chair of the CTO UK Chapter Board

Jane Hansom, one of the CTO’s newest board members, is the Director of Sponge Marketing on behalf of Nevis Tourism Authority. Hansom is an expert in driving tourism to destinations via sports and adventure travel and comes with marketing expertise and knowledge of the Caribbean to enhance both the CTO and the Caribbean region as a whole.

A seasoned industry veteran, Lindsay Ingram is the Managing Director of Newmont Travel. His extensive first-hand experience of the entire Caribbean region as a historically VFR specialist operator will bring a novel perspective into the further promoting the Caribbean region.

Marc James, Partnership Manager for British Airways will continue to utilise his extensive skills set to be an asset to the region as the airline continues to grow capacity. Marc’s 18 + years working with airlines, tourist boards and hotel partners in the Caribbean will be strategically important as the UK chapter continues to evolve and remain sustainable in the long term.

Jenny Peart, Caribbean Product Manager of Kenwood Travel, has been an integral part of the team at Kenwood Travel. Her reputation in the Caribbean is second to none and she has been at the forefront of the resurgence in Caribbean business. Her expertise and commercial acumen will be pivotal in helping the UK Chapter to continue to grow.

Lastly, strategic leader and marketer Cherrie Osborne, Director of Marketing for Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority brings over 12 years of well-rounded tourist board experience to contribute to building brand Caribbean. Osborne is credited with spearheading prominent PR projects, such as the filming of the X-Factor episodes in Antigua, and her prowess in engaging with tourism partners.

The full slate of board members for 2018 is listed below.

The CTO also recently appointed Jamie-Lee Abtar as Business Development Manager, UK Chapter. Abtar has over a decades experience in the travel and tourism industry supporting travel brands to grow, develop and increase revenue, and was also named as one of the TTG’s 30 under 30 Future Travel Leaders.

Carol Hay, CTO’s Director of Marketing UK & Europe stated, the CTO UK Chapter is a dynamic body and we felt that Jamie-Lee’s knowledge of the Caribbean, networking and digital skills will be a great asset.

 

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Corporate News

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CTO Signs Agreement With BITT to Promote Use of Digital Currency in Regional Tourism

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (5 April, 2018) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the region’s tourism development agency, has entered into an agreement with blockchain technology company, Bitt Inc., aimed at facilitating the implementation of more efficient payment processes for tourism-related products and services.

The two organizations signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) this morning at the CTO’s headquarters in Barbados, under which Bitt’s digital wallet and merchant applications will be promoted to help foster broader economic participation in community-based tourism and related sectors.

“The Caribbean aims to fully examine the advantages offered by new financial technology. In particular, blockchain financial services have the potential to advance the objectives of specific programmes and activities within the tourism sector, and the CTO has a responsibility on behalf of our members to fully explore those possibilities. Our memorandum of understanding with Bitt underscores the importance of collaborating with this forward-thinking, cutting edge, Caribbean company with whom we have a shared commitment to the economic success of our region,” Hugh Riley, the CTO’s secretary general, said.

Both organisations anticipate that by leveraging digital currency, the Caribbean region could become a more integrated economy in terms of the ease of doing business for visitors who move through multiple regional destinations.

CTO secretary general Hugh Riley (left) and Bitt CEO Rawdon Adams (right) sign MOU

“Expanding Bitt’s footprint throughout the region is very important to us because we know how transformational our technology can be. That’s particularly the case for the region’s informal sector, for the unbanked and by extension for the economy. Tourism is the largest single contributor to the Caribbean economy and is absolutely critical to every single Caribbean nation’s well-being and development. Thus we see this as a very natural and necessary association,” Rawdon Adams, Bitt’s chief executive officer, said.

The arrangement is for an initial three-year period, but it can be extended by mutual agreement.

The Barbados-based Bitt Inc. is a financial technology company that utilises distributed ledger technology to offer efficient, cost-effective digital payment products and services through its Bitt Suite.

 

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Corporate News

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CTO Looks To Double The Number of Hospitality Assured Caribbean Businesses With Support From CDB

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (21 March, 2018) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is looking to double the number of businesses recognised as Hospitality Assured (HA), the certification programme that promotes business and service excellence.

At present, 33 of the 80 tourism and hospitality businesses involved in the programme have been certified as Hospitality Assured, according to Sharon Banfield-Bovell, the regional human resource development consultant with the CTO, who along with Janice Smith-Kipps, an experienced HA assessor and trainer of HA assessors, recently conducted a regional HA programme assessor training workshop at the Ocean Terrace Inn in St. Kitts and Nevis.

“The aim is to raise the number of certified business this year by 30,” Ms. Banfield-Bovell said.

The assessor training workshop, the third of its kind, is being funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), which has approved over USD$223,000 in support of the HA (Caribbean) certification programme, and which, through its Caribbean Technological Consultancy Services (CTCS) Network, has been  promoting the HA programme as a key means to support the development of tourism quality, business excellence and customer service delivery in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), especially owner-managed businesses in the tourism sector.

“The CDB’s injection of funding support will allow for 30 micro, small or medium tourism enterprises in specific CDB borrowing member countries – Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent and The Grenadines – to participate in the HA certification programme and to achieve one of our strategic goals of strengthening the business performance and overall competitiveness of the tourism sector in the Caribbean,” Ms. Banfield-Bovell stressed.

The project will come to end in June this year and the CTO is encouraging tourism businesses to get onboard and fill the remaining 18 available spaces and seek to put in place an effective service quality management system, with the support of the programme’s key personnel, the business advisors and assessors.

At the opening of the St. Kitts workshop, Michel Thomas, the CBD’s operations officer, noted: “CDB fully supports the programme, as the Bank recognises the importance of enhancing the competitiveness of MSMEs in the tourism sector, which plays an integral role in the social and economic development of a number of CDB Borrowing Member Countries”.

Twenty-one participants from 13 CTO member countries – Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Turks and Caicos Islands – participated in the five-day workshop, which was aimed at providing the necessary training to equip participants with the knowledge and performance requirements of HA assessors.

The assessors’ role includes evaluation of businesses, while maintaining commercial confidentiality; ensuring that assessments are undertaken in accordance with certification requirements; providing clear information to businesses in respect of areas for improvement; and clearly identifying best practice, which would benefit these businesses.

Permanent Secretary in the St. Kits Ministry of Tourism Carlene Henry-Morton reminded workshop participants that the initiative “is a service and business excellence programme designed to promote a culture of quality, service excellence and continuous improvement through the use of a business improvement tool and framework that is internationally recognised.”

“Some of the real benefits of this designation are service excellence, customer loyalty and referrals, continuous improvement and international branding,” she said.

Hospitality Assured is a service quality management certification owned by the Institute of Hospitality in the United Kingdom, managed and operated by the Hospitality Limited, U.K. and developed specifically for the tourism sector, to promote and reward the highest levels of service and business excellence. Hospitality Assured in the Caribbean is managed and promoted by the CTO. Any hospitality, leisure, tourism or service-oriented organization is eligible for Hospitality Assured certification, be they large or small, single or multi-operational.

Posted in: 2018 News, Corporate News, Hospitality Assured

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Barbara Furey, Publishing Specialist & Long-time Supporter of Caribbean Region, Has Died

PENNSYLVANIA (Jan. 15, 2018) — Barbara Furey, a publishing specialist and long-time supporter and contributor to the promotion and marketing of the Caribbean region, has died from complications following a short illness. She was 76 years of age. She worked alongside her partner and husband, James Furey, for more than 40 years representing the interests of the Caribbean in an assortment of projects, many which left a legacy that will long be remembered by many people in the Region as well as North America.

Barbara graduated from Rutgers University and in one of her first jobs rose to Assistant Plant Manager for Colgate-Palmolive in Jersey City, NJ.

In the early 1980s Barbara was one of the forces behind the launching of the Caribbean Sales Seminars, a forerunner of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Annual Conference that brought hundreds of travel agents to the Region each year for educational programs that enabled these travel professionals to better promote and sell the Caribbean destinations. She was an active member of the CTO Chapter system and served as President of the Greater New York Chapter in the early 2000s.

Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) said: “Barbara and Jim are an important part of the proud history of the CTO and have been champions of the Caribbean brand for as long as any of us can remember.”

She was also an integral part of the Caribbean Hotel Association Small Hotels Advisory Committee which went into destinations to help them focus on how to improve their image and promote tourism. Her efforts in countries such as Dominica, St. John’s, St. Croix and Anguilla and others helped those destinations proudly grow their tourism product. She also helped launch the Caribbean Culinary Federation along with Bill Moore and others working in conjunction with the Caribbean Hotel Association.

As partner of Furey and Associates, she helped produce countless newspaper and magazine sections with editorial and advertising that promoted the Caribbean. These sections appeared in publications such as US News & World Reports, USA Today, The New York Times, Newark Star Ledger, Cleveland Plain Dealer and many more.

Furey and Associates grew to become the leading publication representation company in the U.S., primarily promoting sun destinations, and working with all the top publications. The reputation of the company was impeccable and drew some of the top travel writers and editors to work with them in producing special travel sections.

Jim and Barbara retired in 2015 and moved to their country home in Pennsylvania.

Barbara is survived by her husband Jim and, a brother and sister, 9 nieces and nephews and 15 grandnieces and nephews.

Funeral will take place Tuesday, January 16 at 11 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church in Hawley, PA.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Corporate News

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New Year’s Message from CTO Secretary General, Hugh Riley

Bridgetown, Barbados (28 Dec 2017) – This has been a challenging year for Caribbean tourism. While the first half of the year saw exciting growth in both tourism infrastructure and tourist arrivals over the previous year, in September we were hit hard by a series of unusual hurricanes that not only destroyed property, but also took the lives of many of our citizens. We must never forget the souls we lost along the way.

Physically, we will recover. Our Caribbean people are a resilient population. We will put the bricks and mortar back together and the hotels and vegetation will rise again and shine in the brilliant sunlight.

We take this time, a season of celebration and joy and the promise of a new beginning, to both reflect on the preceding year and look forward to tomorrow. And we will take the time to give thanks.

Travellers coming to the countries that were impacted by the storms will now see various stages of the rebuild/recover effort. Some are already fully up to speed and ready for the winter; others, only partially so. Our affected islands respect the safety and security of guests and staff and are therefore being frank and open about their state of readiness.

As tourism is the main economic driver for most of the Caribbean, we place enormous emphasis on delivering value and a superb visitor experience. In the hurricane-affected islands guests in 2018 and beyond will expect to see a product that is rebuilt stronger, better and even more attractive than before. That’s the plan, however long it takes to deliver.

We are thankful that the vast majority of the Caribbean never got touched by the hurricanes, so those islands have continued to welcome visitors every day. For them it’s business as usual. We are grateful to the travel professionals, the many visitors and our citizens themselves who continue to share images of the Caribbean today. Those pictures tell a thousand realities.

We want to use this time to thank our member countries that were quick to come to the aid of others not so fortunate. We want to thank our partners, the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, the airlines, cruise lines and the hotels across the region that have worked and are still working to bring the Caribbean back to normal operations. We want to thank our marketing and sales partners, the tour operators, wholesalers and travel agents from around the world who have stood by the region and continue to promote and sell our destinations. And we want to thank the media that have, for the most part, painted a proper picture of our region that is clearly open for business. Through it all, we are also eternally grateful to our visitors and to the Caribbean Diaspora who stand shoulder to shoulder with our region in times of need.

Even as we prepare to greet a New Year let us take a moment to look back on a few of the successes of 2017.

Recently we embarked on a strategy to substantially enhance the Caribbean’s engagement in Canada, to develop business in non-traditional areas and work closely with our members’ representatives for maximum impact. New travel agent training and certification, increased use of targeted social media, enhanced deployment of the CTO’s data analysis tools, and more focused engagement with the Caribbean Diaspora were all components of the 2017 strategy for Canada. The Canadian market was a strong performer for most of 2017, with arrivals up by 6.4 percent. We can now look forward to more expansion of that market in 2018.

We also continued to focus on our two primary markets, the United States and Europe, with the UK, in particular, taking a central role. These markets were more robust in 2017 and we trust this will continue in 2018.

We realized too, that intra-Caribbean tourism, which has also been on the rise, would need our continuous attention, especially under the current circumstances where the task of educating the travelling public and removing the barriers to intra-Caribbean travel will continue to be a challenge.

At the start of the year we declared 2017 the Year of Adventure in the Caribbean and we capitalized on this in multiple promotions with member countries and industry partners. The Caribbean Year of Adventure linked directly with the United Nations Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development and allowed us to pair adventure with sustainability.

The year culminated with the World Tourism Organization holding its Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth, in Jamaica, followed by the CTO’s partnership with the Caribbean Development Bank to host the Climate Smart Sustainable Tourism Forum in St. Kitts.

For the New Year the CTO has declared 2018 The Year of Rejuvenation in the Caribbean. With wellness and rejuvenation being important aspects of the Caribbean tourism product, we are encouraging our member countries and private sector partners to plan and organise events and activities around that theme.

For travellers who focus on renewing body and spirit, the options are virtually endless; from beachfront workouts and yoga retreats, to wellness resorts and spa treatments, the notion of being rejuvenated in the Caribbean is one more reason to let us pamper you in 2018.
The 2018 Caribbean Year of Rejuvenation will be promoted through social media and traditional media channels and will create opportunities for locals, travellers and holiday/vacation planners to share their ideas on how to capture the Caribbean’s huge capacity for wellness and rejuvenation. It will be a time of rebirth for us and for those who come to share the joy of a Caribbean vacation experience.

We look forward to 2018 with optimism and excitement.

On behalf of our CTO Chairman, The Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar, Bahamas Minister of Tourism, the CTO Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism, the Board of Directors, Members and Staff of the CTO, I thank you for your continued support of our region, and I wish you and yours a safe, peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Corporate News

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CTO S.G. Urges Support of Tourism for Caribbean Recovery at UNWTO Confab on Jobs, Growth

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (18 Dec, 2017) – Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the region’s tourism development agency, urged building upon the resilience of tourism and supporting Caribbean tourism to prepare, manage and recover from crises, to more than 1,500 participants at the Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism, held recently in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Mr. Riley called for exploring potential strategies for the tourism sector to plan for future preparation, management and recovery, specifically after the category five hurricanes that impacted a handful of member counties. He advised participants of the scope, size and resilience of the tourism sector and of the CTO, and highlighted CTO’s focus on sustainability and the depth and breadth of the relationships CTO has created, as well as the resources the organization makes available for CTO member countries.

The secretary general also urged establishing energy policies and observing protocols that improve the region’s climate resilience, effective disaster risk management and reduction, enforcing and maintaining proper building codes.

“It was truly an honour to present at this conference where the goal was centered on a new, collaborative framework for tourism, moving towards the 2030 agenda for sustainable development,” he said.

Addressing the topic of resilience, Mr. Riley shared the six areas of focus that the CTO considers essential to building support for Caribbean tourism: sustainable development, resource mobilization, brand leadership, research and market development, human capital development and advocacy.

“Resource mobilization should utilize available resources to sustain, develop, improve and rebuild,” he told the audience. “Rapid recovery of tourism is needed for debt reduction, employment and poverty alleviation, and to most especially to generate foreign exchange.”

Brand leadership should reinforce the value and attributes of the Caribbean brand, Mr. Riley noted. “We need to educate the public and the travel industry on the geography of the Caribbean,” he said, adding: “Every one per cent decline in arrivals could mean a significant loss of revenue.”

Regarding human capital development, the secretary general wants to train, re-train, certify and equip. But he was quick to add: “Being good hosts is not just the responsibility of a select few. As long as the region continues to boast that its people are its most sought after tourism asset, every citizen has a role.”

In closing, Mr. Riley urged the region to enlist champions among celebrities as well as public and private sector leaders. “Effective advocacy speaks powerfully to the issues that facilitate the development of travel and tourism globally,” he added.

In addition to his presentation, Mr. Riley moderated the “Caribbean Tourism within the Context of the Americas” session.

Organised by the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the Government of Jamaica, the World Bank Group and the Inter-American Development Bank, the global conference brought together world leaders from governments, the tourism industry, donors, and international development and finance organizations, to design and coordinate an international road map and foster collaborative relationships for inclusive economic and social development of tourism.

An official event of the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development 2017, the event gathered more than 1,500 participants and over 150 speakers to help identify successful models and initiatives of public-private partnerships that will contribute to sustainable tourism development globally. In order to achieve results, the conference yielded practical plans to guide future development initiatives including specific development protocols and opportunities related to the achievement of global partnerships for sustainable development.

For more information about the UNWTO Global Conference on Building Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism for Development, visit http://know.unwto.org/event/unwto-global-conference-building-partnerships-sustainable-tourism-development.

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