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Sealy: Record Year For Tourism, Air Arrivals Up 5%, Cruise Arrivals Up 12.9% For 2017

The Honourable Richard Sealy, Minister of Tourism and International Transport has announced that Barbados enjoyed a record 5% increase in stay-over arrivals last year, an all-time high for the destination.

Over the course of 2017, the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) welcomed 663,441 visitor arrivals – 31,308 more than 2016. The Bridgetown Port Inc. (BPI) also observed tremendous growth, recording 818,752 cruise arrivals over the previous year’s 725,020, for a total increase of 12.9%. Of these 818,752 cruise arrivals, some 137,541 passengers stayed over in Barbados, above 2016’s total of 130,924.

“I am delighted by this news and what it says about Barbados’ tourism product,” said Sealy. “It is never easy as a mature tourism destination to maintain growth at these levels in the competitive business landscape in which we operate, but I am pleased that through strategic marketing efforts we have once again proven Barbados’ value as shown by the record number of arrivals at both the air and sea ports throughout 2017.”

The United Kingdom was once again the top producer of arrivals to Barbados with a 33.5% market share. Arrivals from this market were flat compared to 2016, totaling 222,322. The United States followed, contributing 28.4% of business with 188,970 arrivals for the year. Canada contributed 12.8% of the business, and recorded an increase of 7.9% or 85,209 arrivals.

Of special note is the United States, who, while being the second-highest producer of business, grew by a whopping 11.7% over 2016. The United States’ 2017 performance was the highest for that market in three decades – since contributing 175,093 arrivals in 1987.

Trinidad & Tobago, Other Europe, and Other Caribbean saw growth of 5.4%, 4.1% and 3.6% respectively, while Other Central & South America showed a slight growth with a 0.3% increase over 2016.

Sealy attributed the destination’s noteworthy performance to a number of strategic and integrated marketing initiatives which were deployed across Barbados’ top source markets. “I must commend our tourism teams both here and in our global offices, whose efforts were instrumental in us achieving this record 5% growth.”

Some of the marketing efforts Sealy referenced included:

New niche events

Continuing to position Barbados as a formidable player in sports tourism, two new events were created for the traditionally softer period of September – the Barbados Beach and Wellness Festival and the Barbados Cycling Festival. Receiving positive feedback and displaying strong potential for further development and accomplishment, Sealy announced that the BTMI will once again host the two events in 2018.

New air services

“One of the key components in achieving positive tourism performance is of course the accessibility of the destination to visitors around the world. Bearing this in mind we have worked to ensure that we are both maintaining our current airlift, while adding new, enticing services to our repertoire, for example the new Copa partnership which I announced last month,” Sealy said.

Barbados’ new partnership with Copa Airlines will see a twice weekly Barbados–Panama service commencing this July 17, and tickets are already on sale on the airline’s website. Late last year, the BTMI also joined with GAIA in welcoming Virgin Atlantic’s new London Heathrow twice-weekly service to Barbados which commenced December 12, 2017 and will run until February 24, 2018; and later the Thomas Cook new weekly flight from London Gatwick which commenced December 16, 2017 and will run until March 17, 2018.

Exciting new attractions and accommodations

“Considering the numerous new and increased services, we also saw it important to ensure that we had adequate and quality accommodations available to the additional arriving passengers,” Sealy said. “We therefore saw a number of hotels being refurbished and reopening just ahead of the Winter season, hotels such as Sea Breeze, Fairmont Royal Pavilion, Treasure Beach, The House and so on.”

Sealy also welcomed the new business that the recently opened Sandals Royal located on Maxwell Beach has already brought to Barbados.

Describing the island’s new attractions as “integral” in differentiating destination Barbados, Sealy said “I am happy to say that a number of new attractions have come on stream, attractions that will differentiate the product offering we have here in Barbados. There’s the Nikki Beach club that opened at Port Ferdinand, and of course in 2017 we christened the new Rihanna Drive, which has already garnered much international media attention following our ceremony last November. If you’ve been to Speightstown you’ll also see that there’s a buzz around the new restaurants that have opened there… but overall, there are a lot of positive new developments happening across the island.”

Community involvement

Sealy made the point that as tourism continues to boom for Barbados, it is important to continue to engage Barbadians, whom he described as the primary beneficiaries of the industry. “The i am tourism campaign launched last year by the BTPA is just one of the ways we’re involving the public in our business of tourism, starting as young as primary schools and continuing all the way up. The Rihanna Drive project was also one that went out into the community and involved residents of Westbury New Road in both the planning and then the execution of the event.”

International recognition

Throughout 2017, destination Barbados picked up several awards and accolades. In April, the World Economic Forum released its biennial Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report, where Barbados received the highest score for Safety & Security in the Caribbean, and one of the highest scores for Health & Hygiene in the world.

In June, Barbados tourism was selected as a case study candidate by Destination Marketing Association International (DMAI), as a result of the success of the restructure and establishment of the BTMI and the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA). The other destinations chosen were Singapore, Barcelona, Capetown, London, Melbourne, Vienna, Vancouver and Hangzhou China.

Later, in July, Barbados beat out Aruba, Martinique and several other popular Southern Caribbean islands, to nab third place in Cruise Critic’s Top-Rated Southern Caribbean Cruise Destinations. In September, Barbados was voted above the Canary Islands, Egypt, Mexico, Tenerife and Thailand by travel agents to win the prestigious Star Winter Sun Destination 2017 award.

New opportunities for 2018

Looking ahead, Sealy said that “While we celebrate the numerous successes of last year, we are already full-steam ahead with our plans to make sure that 2018 is an equally promising year of growth for Barbados tourism. We have high hopes for our new airline partnerships, new hotel accommodations, new product development, and other new marketing activities in which we will be engaging across our source markets.”

One such opportunity Sealy revealed was that this year will see the commencement of the National Tourism Programme’s U.S. $20 million loan which he said will span five years and seeks to further develop tourism product marketing and airlift.

“We are also packaging 2018 as the Year of Culinary Experiences and you will therefore see us promoting a lot of the delicious and authentic dining experiences to be had on island, from flying fish to gourmet breadfruit bowls,” Sealy said. “And I am confident that with all we have in the works, we will once again be celebrating a record year come January 2019.”

The Year of Culinary Experiences began with the BTPA’s Sugar and Rum Season which is ongoing through April. Next on the calendar is the revamped Oistins Fish Festival over Easter weekend. Activities will continue throughout the year and more information can be found at https://www.visitbarbados.org/year-of-culinary-experiences.

Up next for the destination is the annual Connect Barbados B2B conference which will once again see tour operators travel to Barbados from around the world to experience and learn more about all the island has to offer. The conference is scheduled for May 9-12, 2018.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Destination News

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Saint Lucia Tourism Arrivals Register Record Breaking Increase for 2017

(Wednesday, 21 February 2018) The 2017 tourism performance saw Saint Lucia breaking all records with total visitor arrivals climbing to an all-time high of 1,105,541. The island also recorded the highest growth in 2017 among the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) member countries, registering an 11% increase.

2017 was characterized by sustained growth in the industry, with stayover arrivals at 386,127 and the cruise sector recording a 14% increase, reaching 669,217, an additional 81,264 visitors despite the 8-month closure of the Pointe Seraphine Berth 1.

Commenting on the figures, Minister of Tourism Information and Broadcasting Dominic Fedee, said: “The tourism industry continues to be an incredibly important and vital part of the Saint Lucian economy. We are happy with the levels of growth witnessed and as we continue our marketing efforts, we as well look to maximizing the impact of tourism on our economy”.

The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority worked assiduously with the CTO and trade partners to overcome the indirect challenges faced by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, ensuring all markets that the destination was safe and available for travel.

At the close of 2017, The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) in Travel Trends Report for 2018, the most important document issued in the UK travel industry selected Saint Lucia as one of the top 12 destinations for 2018.

For more information about the island of Saint Lucia, call 1-800-456-3984, or 1-888 4STLUCIA or visit http://stlucia.org/

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Destination News

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St. Kitts Punches Above Its Weight at Routes Americas

Basseterre, St. Kitts (February 19, 2018) – The St. Kitts Tourism Authority is pleased to announce that it won a coveted “Highly Commended” award in the Destination category of the Routes Americas 2018 Marketing Awards. It was selected for this award by vote of airline network planners from the Americas region.

“It is a great honor to receive this award from the airlines,” said the Hon. Mr. Lindsay F.P. Grant, Minister of Tourism, International Trade, Industry and Commerce. “Air service is key to the development of our tourism product, so to have the carriers themselves vote for us is truly a testament to the success of our strategic route development and airlift marketing.”

“Earning the ‘Highly Commended’ award is an exceptional accomplishment for St. Kitts and we are very grateful to the airlines for this accolade,” said Nick Menon, Chairman of the Board of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority.

“I am extremely pleased that St. Kitts has achieved this distinction from airlines and their network planners,” said Racquel Brown, CEO of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority. “We have worked hard to continue to increase airlift year over year from key gateways and develop and maintain our relationships with all the legacy carriers servicing St. Kitts.  Having our efforts recognized by them but also by airlines who were judges that do not currently service St. Kitts demonstrates that our airline strategy and destination marketing are outstanding, therefore this award is a remarkable accomplishment. Although St. Kitts & Nevis is the smallest independent nation in the Western Hemisphere, achieving this award clearly demonstrates that we can compete on a much larger scale.”

The Routes Americas 2018 Marketing Awards winners and highly commended organizations (runners up) were announced during a ceremony at the Routes Americas Networking Evening on Wednesday, February 14 in Quito, Ecuador. Further to St. Kitts, the other Destination category finalists in the Awards included Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., Charleston Area CVB, Hawaii Tourism Authority, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (Destination Award winner) and San Diego Tourism Authority.

Destination finalists were determined by the votes of airline network planners. All destination finalists were required provide details about their marketing activities. These submissions were then reviewed by a panel of industry expert judges from the airlines to determine the winners. The judges for the Destination category included: Max Barrus, Manager, Scheduling, Allegiant Air; Barbara Acosta, Head of Strategy & Network Planning, Volaris; Rafael Moreira Mello Araujo, Network Planning Manager, GOL; Steven Swan, Director International Planning & Airline Partnerships, Southwest; and Eric Friedman, Manager, Route Planning, JetBlue Airways. St. Kitts’ submission can be viewed on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/wJyhWZQ2dhY.

The annual Routes Marketing Awards recognize excellence in airport and destination marketing. They are highly regarded as the most prestigious awards in the aviation industry as they are voted for and judged by the airline network planning community. Airlines voted for the marketing services that support the successful launch of new routes or the development of existing ones, and were instructed to vote for the organizations whose marketing efforts over the last 12 months made a real impact on their future network development plans.

The St. Kitts Tourism Authority extends its sincerest thanks to all marketing partners who helped make earning this award possible. This includes our airline partners, media partners, airline vacation travel agents, magazine partners and our all of our agencies.

About Routes

The Routes business is focused entirely on aviation route development and the company’s portfolio includes events, media and online businesses. The company organises and operates world-renowned airline and airport networking events through its regional and World Route Development Forums. They are held in key markets throughout the year in Asia, Europe and the Americas. Routes was founded in 1995 and is part of the EMEA division of UBM plc. For more information, visit www.routesonline.com.

About St. Kitts

Intoxicating natural beauty, sunny skies, warm waters, and sandy beaches combine to make St. Kitts one of the most seductive spots in the Caribbean. Located in the northern Leeward Islands, it offers a diverse tourism product developed from the destination’s natural beauty, cultural heritage and rich history.  The island’s stunning variety of tourism attractions include hiking through the tropical rainforest, riding the scenic railway that connects the island’s former sugar plantations, visiting the Caribelle Batik factory, and touring Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, which is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Among the more traditional vacation pastimes available are watersports, golf, shopping, tennis, dining, gaming at St. Kitts’ exclusive casino or simply relaxing on the beach.  For more information about St. Kitts, visit www.stkittstourism.kn.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Destination News

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BTB Presents U.S. $59,934.00 Cheque to CTO As Contribution to “A Dollar for the Caribbean Relief Fund”

Belize City, Thursday, February 17th  2018:  The Belize Tourism Board (BTB), in collaboration with tourism industry stakeholders, raised U.S. $59, 934.00 (Bz $119,868.00) as part of the Dollar for the Caribbean Relief Fund campaign. The fund was created to assist victims of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which severely devastated many Caribbean countries in September last year.

This morning Ms. Karen Pike, BTB’s Director of Marketing and Industry Relations, presented the cheque to Mr. Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) during a virtual press conference hosted by CTO in Barbados.

In presenting the cheque, Ms. Pike said “when we got the news on the Caribbean Relief Fund Campaign, we embraced it immediately because it was not only the right thing to do, but also because it brought all of us in the Caribbean once again even closer together in a unified effort to assist those in need.” She added: “As part of the Dollar for the Caribbean Relief Fund Campaign, the BTB reached out to the entire country of Belize through the media, press releases, the BTB’s website and its news distribution network.”

In his response, the Secretary General said, “we thank you Belize on behalf of the entire Caribbean family.” During the press conference, an overview on the state of the tourism industry in the Caribbean was also presented.

As part of its Dollar for the Caribbean Relief Fund Campaign, each participating tourism stakeholder donated a $1 for every guest; the BTB then contributed by donating $1 for every tourist arrival for the month of October therefore, creating a multiplier effect. The BTB initiative was supported by the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), the Belize Hotel Association (BHA), Tropic Air, the Belize Airport Concession Company (BACC), Tour Operators, water taxis, and hoteliers amongst many others.

During the first week of September, category 5 Hurricane Irma pummeled a number of Caribbean countries in the northern Leeward Islands and the northern Caribbean leaving a long trail of devastation. Many residents of these countries were left homeless, without food, power, water and basic essentials.  Two weeks later, Hurricane Maria followed the same path further exacerbating the level of destruction throwing many of these countries in a severe state of despair. The Caribbean depends on tourism as their chief means of survival and the devastation by both hurricanes has stalled the economies of countries affected, which may take several months or perhaps years to recover.

The BTB  and the Belize tourism stakeholders are extremely pleased that they were able to make a contribution towards the Caribbean Relief Fund and take this opportunity to offer their heartfelt thanks to all Belizean stakeholders and  organizations that donated generously in order to ease the road to recovery for our Caribbean sister countries.

According to the CTO, approximately U.S. $135,000.00 was raised by the Caribbean Hurricane Relief Fund Campaign.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Caribbean Recovery, Destination News

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2018 Off to a Record-Breaking Start for Arrivals into the Cayman Islands

Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands (13 February 2018) Following 2017’s record-breaking year for air and cruise arrivals into the Cayman Islands, arrivals for 2018 are off to a record-breaking start. A total of 39,185 stayover visitors were recorded for the month of January, an increase of 23.87 percent over 2017. This represents the best January in recorded arrivals history and is the eighth consecutive month (June 2017 through January 2018) that the Cayman Islands has had record-breaking growth. The 23.87 percent growth is the highest percent growth increase for a January in 12 years and is 13.9 percent higher than January 2015, the previous highest January in recorded history.

January figures can be attributed to growth predominantly in key markets such as the United States, which saw increases in all regions. Of significant note, the West Coast saw the highest growth recording  63 percent increase over 2017. The Southwest recorded 1,270 additional stayover visitors, or 46.98 percent increase over 2017; while the Midwest region recorded 1,770 additional stayover visitors, or 27.40 percent increase over 2017. Canada also recorded growth of 13.47 percent growth over January 2017. This represents the best January in recorded history for Canada with a total of 3,353 stayover visitors. Efforts to tap into the Latin American market continue to be fruitful as both South America and Central America increased by 25 and 35 percent respectively. A total of 218,430 cruise passengers visited the Cayman Islands in January, an increase of 20 percent over January 2017.

Sustained growth is expected in the coming months as residents and guests alike prepare to celebrate the island’s colourful and spirited national carnival Batabano, as well as CayMas and Braccanal. The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism has launched its Summer Only in Cayman promotion, which this year seeks to leverage Cayman’s position as the Culinary Capital of the Caribbean. The promotion invites families to savour the endless array of cuisines available on-island by an impressive roster of local chefs and includes curated epicurean experiences for even the youngest of authentic culinary seekers. With accommodation partners offering a fourth-night free, the Department of Tourism is poised to support this robust promotion through strategic, multi-media marketing across the United States.

“Continued increases in visitation are evidence that the state of our tourism industry is strong,” commented Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism, The Honourable Moses Kirkconnell. “I am optimistic that if we continue this path, 2018 will be another record-breaking year for arrivals and that the Cayman Islands will benefit from economic growth that all can be proud of. I applaud the Department of Tourism and all tourism partners for their continued contributions to this vibrant industry.”

To learn more about our Summer Only in Cayman offers, please visit www.caymanislands.ky/onlyincayman.

For more information and detailed arrival statistics, please visit the website www.caymanislands.ky/statistics.

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Saint Lucia Tourism Authority Selects New Trade Sales Manager

(TORONTO, ON) – The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Rod Hanna as Trade Sales Manager.

Hanna will work closely with the trade as part of a leading, national strategy to increase travel agent engagement, to reach Canadians seeking unique and exotic island experiences.

Hanna has over ten years experience in the industry, most recently working with the Sunwing Travel Group where he held the position of Marketing Coordinator, before being promoted to Business Development Manager. Prior to that, Hanna held positions at Sell Off Vacations and Loyalty One, working closely with clients to book all their travel needs.

Hanna brings a wealth of knowledge to the position with a firm understanding of the Canadian travel industry, including hands-on experience in custom trip planning and maintaining excellent relations with tour operators and travel agents.

Hanna will be based in Toronto working out of the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority Canadian office.  Hanna can be reached by email at [email protected] or by telephone at (416) 801-6184.

For more information about the island of Saint Lucia, call 1-800-456-3984, or 1-888 4STLUCIA or visit http://stlucia.org/

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Anguilla Tourist Board Announces The Appointment Of New Marketing Personnel

The Valley, Anguilla, February 8, 2018……The Anguilla Tourist Board (ATB) is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Colwayne Pickering to the position of Marketing Officer, and Mr. Jameel Rochester to the position of Assistant Manager, Destination Experience. Both appintments are effective February 1st, 2018, and the positions are based at the head office.

Mr. Pickering will assist in leading the development of an Island-headquartered marketing department. This includes designing and executing new and digitally-focused marketing strategies and plans, supporting international marketing efforts, and developing partnerships to enhance and increase tourism arrivals.

Colwayne Pickering, Marketing Officer (left)Jameel Rochester, Assistant Manager, Destination Experience (right)

He is tasked with assisting in the creation and execution of strategic marketing plans to promote awareness for the island, and will oversee and direct the marketing efforts of the international representatives in North America, the U.K., Latin America, Germany, and Italy. He will also assist in expanding Anguilla’s destination presence through consumer and travel trade programmes, including digital, social, and public relations.

Prior to joining the Anguilla Tourist Board, Mr. Pickering served as General Manager (Cable and Broadband) Operations of Wireless Ventures (Digicel) Anguilla Ltd., where he managed million dollar budgets and targets and supervised a team in excess of 50 staff members. He successfully developed both sales and operational growth strategies, with a focus on driving significant increases to both customer numbers and revenue, while keeping the operational expenses in check.

“I have a strong background and experience in excess of 10 years directly relating to marketing and promotions, coupled with operational and people management. I am confident that I will be an excellent asset to the organisation, with a full appreciation for time management and the ability to work autonomously and under pressure in achieving required objectives,” said Mr. Pickering.

A Jazz Aficionado and avid traveller, Mr. Pickering holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Management Studies from the University of the West Indies.

Mr. Rochester will be responsible for assisting in the development, promotion, and management of the on-island experience, which includes engaging with stakeholders in relation to all elements of Anguilla’s Tourism Product.

The key duties of his post include, but are not limited to, participating in the development and implementation of Anguilla’s destination development strategy; assisting in managing Public and Private Sector Relations; organising and promoting internal and external training in the elements of hospitality; and assisting in coordinating and facilitating community outreach programmes to highlight the role of communities in creating the visitor experience.

Prior to joining the Anguilla Tourist Board’s team, Mr. Rochester held the position of Resort Assistant Manager at the Four Seasons Resort & Residences Anguilla, where he performed a variety of service-related functions. He previously held the position of Executive Assistant at Zemi Beach House Hotel & Spa, where he assisted the General Manager.  Mr. Rochester has also held many leadership positions in the Hospitality and Finance Industry.

“With my practical experience combined with my educational studies, I am confident that I can and will become an invaluable asset to the Anguilla Tourist Board,” said Mr. Rochester. “My long-term career goal is to continue to learn and develop my skills and abilities within the hospitality industry, whilst utilising my experience, knowledge, and skills to the benefit of the organisation.”

Mr. Rochester holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in General Management Studies from the University of the West Indies and is currently pursuing a  Master of Science Degree in General Management Studies from the University of the West Indies. He also holds certificates in Lodging and Hospitality Management, Hospitality and Tourism Management in the Caribbean and Social Media Marketing.

For more information on Anguilla please visit the official website of the Anguilla Tourist Board: www.IvisitAnguilla.com; follow us on Facebook: Facebook.com/AnguillaOfficial; Instagram: @Anguilla_Tourism; Twitter: @Anguilla_Trsm, Hashtag: #MyAnguilla.

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