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CTO Statement for Caribbean Tourism Month 2020, Theme: The Caribbean Awaits

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (2 Nov. 2020) – 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 value of One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean. This year’s theme is, The Caribbean Awaits.

This theme compliments the region’s success in generally containing the spread of COVID-19 which has taken a major toll on tourism along with other sectors of our economies. Caribbean countries have taken the required steps to protect our citizens and residents, conducted the required training to prepare our tourism and related frontline workers for the return of visitors and put the health protocols in place to reassure our potential visitors and residents that we take their health seriously. This has been the groundwork, and now we seek to rebuild the sector.

We observe this year’s Caribbean Tourism Month with COVID-19 still affecting travel as the Caribbean and the rest of the world continue to await a vaccine. The impact on tourism has been immense – a 57 per cent decline in arrivals during the first six months of 2020, an estimated 50 per cent to 60 per cent fall in visitor spend, and tens of thousands of jobs lost. Those still employed have, in several cases, accepted reductions in working hours and wage cuts.

The resilience of the Caribbean is shown by the progress we have made towards the resumption of tourism activity. Currently, about 25 Caribbean countries have reopened their borders to commercial travel, either fully or partially, and others are putting the necessary measures in place to welcome visitors. This year’s theme further compliments the reopening of our borders, as the clarion call ‘We welcome you’ speaks to the fact that the Caribbean is the perfect place for those who have begun to travel or are thinking of travelling soon, to find solace in a place that is an oasis of health at this time.

The CTO, in conjunction with our members, has planned a number of social media activities in observance of the month. We encourage all of you to participate and to share our hashtag, #TheCaribbeanAwaits.

We cannot rest on our laurels, and we remain cognizant of the toll that COVID-19 has taken, and continues to take on our economies, and importantly, our people. In all of our destinations, we must remain vigilant and constantly adjust to what is probably one of the most dynamic situations any of us will ever face. We hope and pray for recovery; it will be slow, but every step forward is a welcome one.

In the meantime, be assured that whatever your travel plans, the Caribbean awaits.

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CTO Partners with Regional, International Agencies for Caribbean Tourism Recovery Forum

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (1 Oct. 2020) – As part of its programme to help the region’s tourism sector rise to the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is teaming up with the world’s leading international tourism agency and other influential regional and international organisations for a critical recovery event for the industry.

The United Nations specialised agency for tourism, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), global market research firm Euromonitor International, independent charity, Travel Foundation, and the University of the West Indies are collaborating with the CTO in presenting the Caribbean Tourism Recovery Forum on 14 and 15 October, 2020. The virtual event will focus on planning and management of the recovery process for the Caribbean.

“From the onset of COVID-19, the CTO has sought expertise to assist our members with immediate, short-term and long-term recovery planning as they navigate the path towards rebuilding the regional tourism sector,” said Neil Walters, the CTO’s acting secretary general.  “Through this forum we are again able to capitalise on our close relations with these reputable organisations to provide insights and analyses about the sector, as well as explore some of the key areas that must be addressed to ensure success in the Caribbean’s tourism recovery process.”

The event also incorporates a capacity building element in the form of a workshop to assist destinations in applying a structured, measurable model to their own national planning.

It will have two distinct segments, with the first segment on 14 October aimed at increasing awareness of steps to planning recovery and improving knowledge of the role of stakeholders in the recovery process. A range of areas will be covered, including the economic impact of COVID-19, travel sentiment and forecast, considerations around a vaccine, best practices for recovery and a model for sustainable tourism post-COVID.

Presenters for this session will include:

  • Caroline Bremner, Head of Travel and Tourism Research at Euromonitor International
  • Professor Clive Landis, Chairman, University of the West Indies COVID-19 Taskforce
  • Alejandro Varela, Deputy Regional Director for the Americas at UNWTO
  • Jeremy Sampson, Chief Executive Officer at The Travel Foundation

This segment is open to CTO members and partners in tourism and related fields and will run from 10:00 AM to 1:15 PM.

The second segment on 15 October will target government members of the CTO for a Smart Recovery planning workshop facilitated by The Travel Foundation.  A unique feature of this workshop is that it combines learning and development, and post-implementation assessment. The programme was developed by the teams at The Travel Foundation and City Nation Place and it has been successfully delivered in a number of other destinations as part of their tourism reopening plan.

Participants will gain in depth knowledge of recovery framework and are expected to complete and assess a recovery plan for their respective destinations.

For more information on the Caribbean Tourism Recovery Forum, including how to register, please visit www.onecaribbean.org.

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CTO Introduces Virtual Training Programme in Light of COVID-19

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (25 August. 2020) – With face-to-face learning severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has developed a programme of  virtual workshops to assist members seeking training for those in the tourism sector.

The CTO, the region’s tourism development agency, has begun offering some of its more popular programmes, such as taxi training, online to meet the needs of countries whose human resources and capacity development activities have been stalled by the virus.

“The emergency plans implemented by countries around the world, including the Caribbean, to limit the spread of the COVID-19 have disrupted face-to-face teaching and learning and affected the  CTO’s ability to conduct our regular training programmes,” said Sharon Banfield, the director of resource mobilisation and development. “However, it has also presented an opportunity to mobilise technology to develop alternative training opportunities. The CTO recognises this and will work with the membership to execute online training workshops on their behalf.”

Montserrat was the first CTO member country to benefit from the new online training programme after the CTO facilitated a recent four-session virtual training workshop for taxi drivers titled, The Successful Taxi Driver Workshop.

Approximately 25 taxi drivers participated in the programme, which was open to all taxi and transport operators.

“This was a first for all of the participants, and to ensure that we had the full attention of our stakeholders from the transportation sector, we convened the sessions at one central location, with the facilitator doing an excellent job in creating an interactive atmosphere,” said Warren Solomon, Montserrat’s director of tourism. “The Montserrat Tourism Division has a series of training programmes planned for the remainder of the year and this is really to ensure that all of our service providers don’t lose their edge and are ready to bring their A-game when our borders are re-opened.”

The workshop, conducted in two-hour sessions over four days, covered subjects such as:

  • The Branded Experience
  • First Impressions, Lasting Impressions
  • Effective Communication
  • Strive for Continuous improvement
  • Health and Safety in a COVID 19 Environment

“The general consensus was that the workshop was very timely and met the participants’ expectations and fulfilled the session objectives. Participants shared that the workshop was effective in increasing their knowledge of how to be a successful taxi driver as well as their understanding of COVID-19 and the impact it has on their business,” said the facilitator, Joan Leacock.

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Caribbean American Heritage Month 2020 Message by Neil Walters Secretary General (Ag) CTO

From the very first Caribbean-American Heritage Month in 2006, the United States government has given official recognition to the great contributions of people of Caribbean heritage to the fabric of the nation.

This is an acknowledgement of the highest order that Caribbean immigrants, including those born in, or cultured by, the Caribbean, have had a highly positive impact on the United States. From the Nevis-born Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers, through to today, the contributions of Caribbean immigrants and their descendants to United States law, culture, politics, medicine, education, media and all walks of life have been immeasurable.

Caribbean American Heritage Month is meant to celebrate these contributions while serving as a reminder that the United States would not have been as great a country as it is without its diversity.

Of course, we cannot and ought not forget the contribution of Barbara Lee, the congresswoman from California, who in 2005 introduced the resolution to establish a Caribbean-American Heritage Month, giving official recognition to the region’s contribution to the development of the United States. The senate passed the resolution in February 2006 and President George W. Bush issued the proclamation on 6 June, 2006.

The month of June has since become the period during which every Caribbean immigrant, as well as those of us who live in the Caribbean, unite in our proud display of all that make us among the most creative, productive, vibrant, warm and welcoming people in the world. It’s also when the Caribbean Tourism Organization would take this vibrant energy and diversity to New York during Caribbean Week New York.

However, this year is different. This year we observe Caribbean American Heritage Month during what is one of the most difficult periods in our history and that of the world. The COVID-19 pandemic  has placed economies under tremendous strain, ground life as we’ve known it to a virtual halt, and, frankly, forced fundamental changes to all of our lives. And sadly, it has also taken so many lives, including large numbers of our Caribbean brothers and sisters.

We mourn this loss of life and our hearts ache for the families devastated by the loss of their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, relatives and friends.

The CTO also applauds and pays homage to the many Caribbean immigrants who join colleagues on the frontline, selflessly giving of themselves as nurses, doctors and other essential workers in the fight against the virus. You are all in our prayers.

Naturally, Caribbean Week New York has been cancelled due to COVID-19, including our Rum and Rhythm event, which allows the Caribbean Diaspora – our greatest tourism ambassadors and a most trusted and resilient component of the tourism market – and the CTO member countries to celebrate the  rhythms, food and rums of the region, while raising funds to support Caribbean students pursuing studies in tourism and its related subjects.

As we celebrate Americans with roots in the Caribbean this month, the CTO looks forward to our emergence from this pandemic as a much stronger, more determined and more united people whose contribution to home and adopted home cannot be matched.

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CTO Statement on the Passing of Dr. Roy Hastick

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (Tues. 14 April, 2020) – It is with profound sadness that we learn of the passing of Dr. Roy A. Hastick, a colossus of the Caribbean American business community.

As the founder and chief executive officer of the Caribbean Chamber of Commerce and Industry, (CACCI), Dr. Hastick stood tall and proud as a committed soldier of the Caribbean Diaspora in New York City and New York State. His efforts, mostly on limited resources, helped open doors for many people needing assistance.

His mantra, “business networking really works”, proved to be a strategy that served to increase small business development among the Caribbean Diaspora. Perseverance brought his message to the ears of elected officials, corporate businesses and government partners, and from this the people of the Caribbean have benefited.

The number of trade missions he undertook helped increase business investment throughout the region and contributed to the success of the tourism industry in CTO member countries.

While he was known for strengthening Caribbean businesses in New York, the CACCI also assisted during times of crisis in the region. After the hurricanes of 2017, Dr. Hastick gathered his extensive list of contacts in the United States congress, the New York state governor and legislators, other state and city officials and private sector partners to provide emergency assistance.

Dr. Hastick’s ultimate dream was the construction of 255 affordable housing units and the CACCI headquarters/ Caribbean Trade and Cultural Centre in Brooklyn. He dedicated many years to the fulfilment of this dream, and while he did not see it through to its completion, its opening in 2021 will serve as a strong reinforcement to his tireless work to improve the economic well-being of Caribbean-Americans.

He was the first recipient of the CTO’s Distinguished Caribbean Citizen Award in 2018. This award was given for his longstanding commitment to representing the interests of Caribbean people at the city and state levels in New York, his endeavours to strengthen commercial links between the Caribbean and its Diaspora and his recognition of the fact that commerce and investment are naturally intertwined with tourism.

Dr. Hastick will be sorely missed, and his legacy will live forever.

On behalf of staff of the CTO, the council of ministers and commissioners of tourism, the board of directors and Caribbean people everywhere, we express our deepest sympathies to Eda Hastick and his family.

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