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Airbnb and the CTO Collaborate to Promote Tourism 2021

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (17 March 2021) – As part of its global efforts to work with governments and tourism agencies to support responsible travel and local economic growth, Airbnb announced its partnership with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) to promote its member countries across Airbnb’s vast global community. This collaboration is designed to amplify the Caribbean’s recovery from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic by promoting safe, responsible travel to the region.

As part of this partnership, Airbnb is launching a marketing campaign that includes the rollout of a series of email newsletters and a landing page highlighting the CTO’s member countries and their respective protocols for safe travel during this time. Airbnb has also pledged to share data with the CTO, including travel trends, to facilitate informed marketing decisions during this recovery period.

The promotional landing page for this partnership will be unique to others worldwide. It will integrate 18 countries from the English, French and Dutch Caribbean, promote homes in each destination, and links to each country’s website.

“With the Caribbean continuing to re-open, we’re helping to usher in the safe return of travel to this wonderful region by shining a light on the many places to see and things to do,” stated Carlos Munoz, Airbnb Policy Manager for Central America and the Caribbean. “We’re also excited to promote the important economic impact driven by hosting on Airbnb.”

This partnership is one of the many initiatives in the CTO’s ongoing programme to help its members rebuild tourism in their destinations. “The partnership with Airbnb will help us to promote the region responsibly by providing our members with a platform to showcase their destinations while at the same time highlighting the health safety measures that each has implemented to ensure that visitors can enjoy a safe Caribbean experience during this time,” shared Neil Walters, Acting Secretary-General of the CTO.

This partnership joins previously announced collaborations with organizations, including the Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), the National Parks Foundation and Bermuda Tourism Authority.

Posted in: 2021 News, Blog, Corporate News

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Caribbean Tourism Performance Report 2020

Overview

Across the Caribbean,  the impact of COVID-19 on the travel and tourism industry has been very apparent. The impact was particularly evident during the period of April to about mid -June when there was literally no activity in some of our destinations.

This was characterised by empty hotels and restaurants, deserted attractions, shut borders, laid-off workers, grounded airlines and crippled cruise lines. While we saw some fluctuations in the levels of visitors for the remaining months of the 2020, the influx of visitors has not reached levels even closely comparable to those being experienced prior to March 2020. In fact, some destinations remain closed to visitors, with limited airlift primarily for repatriation of locals and cargo.

Cruise lines plying Caribbean routes remain non-operational due to a  strict ban imposed by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC).

With government restrictions both in the Caribbean and globally reducing, and in many cases, preventing travel for large periods of time, the Caribbean had a significant drop in arrivals in 2020, although the region performed better than any other region in world.

Data received from Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) member countries reveal that tourist arrivals to the region in 2020 fell to just over 11 million, a declined of 65.5 per cent when compared to the record 32.0 million tourist visits in 2019. Still, this was better than the world average of 73.9 per cent decline during the same period.

This lower rate of decline in the region can be attributed to two key factors: a significant portion of the Caribbean’s winter season (January to mid-March 2020) saw average levels of tourist arrivals when compared to 2019, and the fact that the main (summer) season in other regions coincided with the period where there was normally very limited international travel.

A period of virtually no tourism began in mid-March – the second quarter was the worst-performing with arrivals down by 97.3 per cent. But tourists began visiting again in June as the sector began to reopen.  Still, the fall-off in stayover arrivals continued through to September – when a gradual reversal began –  and continued right up to December. Destination initiatives such as the long-stay work programmes, other promotional activities and efforts of regional organisations such as the CTO, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and the Caribbean Public Health agency, contributed to the gradual rise in arrivals.

Cruise

Like stayover arrivals, cruise was buoyed by the performance in the first three months of 2020, particularly the month of February, when there was a 4.2 per cent rise in visits. However, a 20.1 per cent fall in the first quarter was followed by no activity for the remainder of the year as ships remained non-operational. The overall result was a 72 per cent slide to 8.5 million cruise visits, when compared to the 30 million visits in 2019.

Visitor Expenditure

The limited travel beyond the first two-and-a-half months of the year, resulted in difficulties in compiling visitor expenditure numbers in 2020. However, based on information derived from international partners such as the UNWTO, and the limited reporting by Caribbean countries,  we estimate that across the region visitor expenditure declined by 60 to 80 per cent, in line with the decline in stayover and cruise arrivals.

Preliminary data indicates that the average length of stay for 2020 remained at roughly seven nights, the same as in in 2019.

Forecast

The Caribbean’s performance in 2021 will depend largely on the success of the authorities in the marketplace and the region in combatting, containing and controlling the virus. Already, there are some encouraging signs like the vaccine roll-out taking place in North America, Europe and the Caribbean.

However, this must be tempered by some other factors such as: lockdowns in our key source markets which are expected to continue into the second quarter,  international travel confidence not expected  to pick up until the summer 2021,  a steep fall in the number of people planning to travel abroad and the possible requirement by the authorities in our key markets for their citizens to vaccinate before travelling abroad.

With these factors taken into consideration, our initial forecast is for a 20 per cent rise in arrivals in 2021, with a similar increase in visitor expenditure, when compared to 2020.

Posted in: 2021 News, Blog, Corporate News

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A legacy that will shape future generations – CTO statement on the passing of Gordon “Butch” Stewart

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – 5 Jan. 2021 – It is with great sadness that the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has learned of the death of Jamaican and Caribbean hospitality icon, Gordon “Butch” Stewart. The CTO member countries, allied members and staff join the government and people of Jamaica, the Stewart family, the Sandals family, and the regional and international tourism and hospitality sector in mourning his passing.

Mr. Stewart has been a faithful and passionate servant of Caribbean tourism for four decades and his dedication was fully demonstrated through his many outstanding achievements. His was a virtual lifetime of high performance, devotion to country and the Caribbean and commitment to excellence in the hospitality sector.

To quote his son, Adam, Mr. Stewart was a “gifted entrepreneur,” a “marketing genius,” and “a dreamer who could dream bigger and better than anyone.” There is no greater testament to this than his success as the founder and leader of the world-renowned Sandals and Beaches resort brands, along with the innovations he brought to these brands.

Mr. Stewart was a mentor to many, and his contributions have touched almost every sector of Jamaican and Caribbean society. His passing is a great loss to the entire region. He was a true travel and tourism and business icon and his legacy will shape future generations. ​

Posted in: 2021 News, Blog, Corporate News

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New Year’s Message from CTO Acting Secretary General, Neil Walters

As we look forward to the New Year, 2021, it is very timely that we pause and reflect on the year to which we bid farewell.

Certainly, 2020 was a year which highlighted many of our vulnerabilities, but more importantly, it taught us many lessons about our abilities to adapt in the face of crisis; abilities which I am sure many of us did not even know existed.

The COVID-19 pandemic crippled the economies of several countries, with the most serious effects being felt in small economies and specifically those reliant on travel and the movement of people. Indeed, these two characteristics essentially describe all the countries of the Caribbean, and consequently, from an economic standpoint, the Caribbean has been one of the hardest hit regions in the world.

Fortunately, for the most part, as a region we have been able to control the spread of the virus within our local populations. This has been achieved by the implementation of very stringent control mechanisms which have varied from state to state, and included in most instances, temporary closure of international borders.

By the last quarter of 2020, most of the countries in the Caribbean had reopened their borders and the vast majority of reopened countries had also started accepting commercial travel and visitors to their shores. In all cases, this process has been done within the parameters of protocols designed to complement the health infrastructure of the country.

The stories which depict this process of infection control and reopening of borders in the face of second and third waves of viral spread in our main source markets, speak volumes about the adaptability of our people and specifically about the travel and tourism sector in the Caribbean which has been given no choice, other than to quickly identify, learn and adapt to the changing environment we have experienced over the past 12 months.

We therefore move into 2021 armed with a new set of lessons learnt and with the proof that the Caribbean tourism sector along with its counterpart in public health has the collaborative power to restart, reenergize and rebuild tourism in the Caribbean stronger and more resilient, and ready to face the next challenge.

Experts have indicated, that based on the results of past pandemics in our history, a two-year period of recovery to return to ‘normalcy’ can be expected. Based on that prediction, we can expect ‘normal’ conditions beyond December 2021. Indeed, our concept of ‘normal’ is compounded by the view that the measures we have implemented to control the spread of the virus may stay with us for an indefinite period.

While the pandemic has threatened the Caribbean tourism sector, it has also created the opportunity for us to assess the sector and implement actions which have been difficult during the last twenty to thirty years of mass tourism. The pandemic has identified one critical common factor – the need for change, the need to think outside of the box and identify different ways of doing things. Since the falloff in tourism activity in March 2020, all tourism policy makers, destination management organizations and other tourism stakeholders have spent time critically analyzing and rethinking the way they manage tourism in their individual destinations. This has led to a spirit of greater cooperation and collaboration which was needed in the sector but which has now been clearly shown to be critical to the sector’s future and its success.

All of this has also been mirrored at the regional level, where regional stakeholders in tourism, health and general government have collaborated to create standards for the reopening of the sector and continued to collaborate in the face of an ever-changing regional and extra-regional environment.

During 2021, the programmes of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) will continue the work started in 2020 on research, product development – including heritage and community-based tourism – and human resources development – including a regional tourism sector human resources audit and training. In addition, our collaborative efforts will continue to ensure that the tourism sector works with other sectors such as health to enhance the prospects of the region as we transition to a new paradigm of normalcy.

Our collective efforts to date have positioned the Caribbean, from a global standpoint, in this pandemic, as a region which is healthy and safe for travel. It is a position which we must defend, while we make every effort to improve on the other facets of the visitor experience.

In the New Year message for 2020, we were lauding ourselves for recovering in 2019, after the 2017 hurricanes and for exceeding the world average for tourism growth. While those traditional metrics may paint a different picture this year, we in the Caribbean can still be pleased with our efforts. This time we have proven ourselves leaders, via the collaboration of tourism and public health to create protocols for the reopening of the sector.

We still cannot rest on our laurels, but continue to use the momentum created by our efforts in 2020 and the resilience of our people to rebuild the tourism sector like all other sectors to full functionality again, and buttress it against all future challenges which, although we pray otherwise, are sure to come.

On behalf of the CTO Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism, Board of Directors and the staff of the CTO, I want to say thank you to all of our partners and stakeholders, both regionally and internationally, for your collaborative efforts in 2020, and we look forward to further collaboration in 2021. I wish for us all a year filled with health, blessings, growth, and prosperity for this region we love.

Posted in: 2020 News, Blog, Corporate News

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Experts to examine Caribbean tourism and economic recovery this Friday

MIAMI, Florida (December 8, 2020) – Strategies for the quick recovery of Caribbean economies from the devastation wrought by the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic will be discussed by regional and global stakeholders at a virtual forum hosted by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), and the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC) on Friday, December 11, 2020.

Moderated by veteran Caribbean journalist Julian Rogers, “Tourism: The Key to the Caribbean’s Economic Recovery” will bring together public and private sector leaders, the international tourism development community, members of civil society and the media to identify lessons learned from the pandemic and to address how the highly tourism-dependent region can harness the economic power of tourism to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and revitalize the region’s economies.

Panelists include Lisa Cummins, Barbados’ Minister of Tourism and Chairman of CTO; Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism of Jamaica and Co-Chair of GTRCMC; CHTA’s CEO and Director General Frank Comito; Michel Julian, Senior Programme Officer with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO); and Virginia Messina, Managing Director of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). Other Caribbean leaders are expected to join the discussion.

A key goal of the forum is assessing tourism’s impact on Caribbean economies and identifying joint actions which can facilitate tourism’s recovery and strengthen the region’s economies. The forum will draw upon the thinking of the participating organizations as well as the desire of many Caribbean Heads of Government as expressed recently at a CARICOM meeting for the region to take a collaborative and comprehensive approach to stimulating and accelerating tourism’s recovery.

During the online forum, participants will examine the resilience of the sector and how the Caribbean’s dependence on tourism for economic stimulation will increase in the post-COVID future as tourism is likely to bounce back sooner and faster than other segments of the economy.

National, regional and global policy stakeholders are encouraged to attend the forum.

To reserve a space for the forum on Friday, December 11 at 10 a.m. ET, visit https://member.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com/link.asp?ymlink=648160603

Posted in: 2020 News, Blog, Corporate News

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