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British Virgin Islands Tourism Sector Looks Ahead With Confidence

Seven months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the beautiful British Virgin Islands, the territory’s attractions, accommodations and activities continue to rebound. The tourism industry and team here at the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board have worked extremely hard to revitalize the BVI’s tourism product — the lifeblood of our islands. We are fortunate to have the support of our Government, which remains steadfast in its commitment to BVI tourism. Now more than ever, it is critical that we encourage visitors to come experience the BVI they know and love.

Over the last few months, our tourism season has come alive with vibrant events, property reopenings and new local initiatives, symbolic of a BVI renaissance. And as of April 10, the U.S. Department of State has updated its BVI travel advisory to Level 1 (exercise normal precaution), another indication of the territory’s return to normalcy.

The BVITB is pleased to provide a comprehensive update on accommodations, local businesses and upcoming events around the territory as we emphasize that the destination is indeed open for business.

In terms of landside accommodations, some of the BVI’s premier properties are welcoming guests once again, including Oil Nut Bay on Virgin Gorda, and Cooper Island Beach Club. On the island of Anegada, 10 of 11 hotels are operational, including Anegada Beach Club and Anegada Reef Hotel, among others. There are currently 552 total hotel rooms (about 16%) available for bookings throughout the BVI.

The remainder of our private island resorts are working fast and furious to restore their cherished luxury experiences. Guana Island Resort will reopen in July, as will Scrub Island Resort & Spa. Necker Island will have a partial reopening in the fall, while Rosewood Little Dix Bay and Bitter End Yacht Club — among the hardest hit resorts — are expected to reopen in late 2019.

Of course, the wonderful thing about the BVI’s tourism product is that we offer both land and sea accommodations. After the storms, we immediately identified the yachting sector as the first to rebound. The yacht charters have made a strong recovery, and as it stands now, the territory has 1,860 charter boat berths/cabins available. This includes premier charter companies such as The Moorings, Marine Max, Sunsail and Horizon.

Additionally, a total of 36 cruise ship calls have been made at the Tortola Pier Park since December, another encouraging means to bring visitors to the destination. This includes cruise lines such as Columbia and Silver Seas, while larger ships such as Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line will resume cruising to the BVI in the fall.

Getting to the BVI has never been easier. InterCaribbean Airways has expanded service between San Juan and Tortola, adding another convenient connection option for travelers.

When visitors land on our spectacular shorelines, there are a number of attractions that are open for them to explore at their leisure, like the iconic Baths on Virgin Gorda. Our exotic dive sites are open as well, so guests can enjoy underwater adventure and marine life at the BVI Art Reef and Wreck of the RMS Rhone. BVITB is also working in conjunction with the National Parks Trust to revive our parks (Sage Mountain, Mount Healthy, and others) and reopen them for locals and visitors alike. Local businesses around the islands are determined to provide the level of service and fun that patrons have come to expect. Legendary beach bars like Foxy’s Tamarind Bar and Soggy Dollar Bar have reopened on Jost Van Dyke over the past few months. Additionally, museums such as Sugar Works and the Old Government House will return this fall.

Most recently, the BVI hosted the 47th BVI Spring Regatta in March. Sailors from around the world convened on our shores and celebrated another successful week of competition and island spirit.

We are confident that with the help of our yachting sector and the reopening of land accommodations over the next several months, we will continue sailing towards the full rebuilding of our beloved BVI. Looking ahead, we’re excited to share a great lineup of events and festivals that will attract visitors as we move into the summer months.

  • Foxy’s Wooden Boat Regatta on Jost Van Dyke (April 21-22)
  • Lowell Wheatley Anegada Pursuit Race at Anegada Reef Hotel (April 28)
  • BVI Dinghy Championships at Nanny Cay Hotel and Marina (May 19-21)
  • Second Annual BVI Jazz & Style Festival (May 25-27)
  • Leverick Bay Poker Run (May 27)
  • BVI Summer Sizzle (July 25-30)
  • BVI Emancipation Festival (July 27-August 10)

Finally, with an eye on preservation, our team has just unveiled its Seeds of Love initiative, a project that aims to replant the islands’ indigenous trees and vegetation. Environmental protection is vital to the future of our unspoiled landscapes. Donations can be made through Pledgeling, and the funds will be used for gorgeous trees such as coconut palms, white cedars, and mangroves. The seeds will then be planted by BVI residents, visitors and local organizations. The Tourist Board is also collaborating on voluntourism opportunities for those travelers who want to give back during their visits.

BVITB will launch a new multi-channel ad campaign next month to showcase the breadth of our rebuilding efforts, and highlight the abundant natural beauty that remains at tourists’ fingertips. Plus, a special summer promotion is just around the corner to encourage eager vacation planners to make their return to the BVI.

For real-time updates, visit www.bvitourism.com/bvistrong where you can find the latest information about attractions, restaurants and property reopenings on each island. As our treasured islands continue on the road to full recovery, we must always remember that we are ONE BVI. We are stronger together.

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

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Bahamas.com Wins ‘Best In Class’ at Interactive Media Awards

Nassau, The Bahamas: The official website of The Islands Of The Bahamas has been a hit with visitors, an achievement that has landed the destination the highest honor of the Interactive Media Awards.

Bahamas.com, which is the official Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation (BMOTA) site, has won the ‘Best In Class’ award in the category of Travel and Tourism.

The website represents the very best in planning and execution.

Officials at the BMOTA have been hard at work and now rely heavily on analytics to drive smart, data-driven decision making.

To assist with data collection, the Ministry has established a dynamic digital dashboard to see real time statistics like traffic to Bahamas.com and engagement on all social channels.

The website’s dashboard also measures website visitors’ clicks on deals to book as well as converting those clicks to hot leads for hotel properties.

Recently, officials added a commission-free, hotel book direct engine on Bahamas.com, powered by a company called JackRabbit.

For the period of December 1, 2017 to February 28, 2018, the “book now” links from individual hotels listed on Bahamas.com generated 5,040 leads directly to hotel partners.

“This shows that we are moving in the right direction,” said Director General of Tourism Joy Jibrilu.

“The Islands Of The Bahamas has benefited greatly from our online presence and the world is certainly taking notice. We are going to continue utilizing the array of digital platforms to show the world what we have to offer and why it is better in The Bahamas.”

Bahamas.com has seen significant increases in unique visitors and page views, according to officials.

Plans are also on the drawing board to continue to improve Bahamas.com by enhancing the site’s capability for visitors to search for places to stay in The Bahamas.

The website will also expand individual property listings with larger imagery, videos, a map, relevant activities and Trip Advisor reviews.

Additionally, Bahamas.com won recognition by a very large and accredited organization within the web development industry called ‘The Webby Awards’.

The organization boasted about The Islands of The Bahamas saying,

“Congratulations once again to you and your team on EDUCO’s success as an Honoree in the 22nd Annual Webby Awards. Out of over 13,000 entries received from 70 countries and all 50 United States, your work was ranked among the top 18 percent by the academy. That’s an incredible achievement!”

The Webbys is presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS)—a 2000+ member judging body. The Academy is comprised of Executive Members—leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities—and Associate Members who are former Webby Winners, Nominees and other Internet professionals.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Destination News

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BVI Works To Improve Standards For Service And Business Excellence

Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands, March 22, 2018…Assuring that guests to the British Virgin Islands have an excellent guest service experience is a high priority of the British Virgin Islands Tourist Board & Film Commission (BVITB).  As a demonstration of that commitment, the Board has ensured that four of its employees were trained under the Hospitality Assured (HA) Programme; two as advisors and two as assessors.

Managing Consultant, Small Properties, Trefor Grant and Standards Manager, Vionie Pickering were certified as HA Advisors in 2016 and Annette B. Dalmida-Scatliffe, Executive Assistant to the Director of Tourism and Clive McCoy, Film Commissioner and Tourism Liaison Officer for Recovery, were certified as HA Assessors on March 16, 2018.

The Hospitality Assured Certification Programme was created by the Institute of Hospitality (U.K.) specifically for the tourism and hospitality sector to improve service quality. The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) owns the license to operate the programme in the region.  The programme’s overall objectives are to promote a culture of quality, service excellence and continuous improvement in the Caribbean, which are driven by international standards and certification, to strengthen the business performance and overall competitiveness of tourism enterprises in the region.

“The Board wants to have our properties, particularly the small ones, raise their standards of operations and service.  We found it fitting to invest in the training of officers in the Hospitality Assured as it is an internationally recognized programme and certifiable within the region,” said Director of Tourism, Mrs. Sharon Flax Brutus.  The Director further stated, “The training of these officers is in fulfillment of our objective to develop our staff, promote career growth and create a more dynamic and sustainable organization through succession planning.”

Mrs. Flax Brutus indicated that the next step in the process is to build awareness of the programme and its benefits, and the Board will be publicizing the programme and providing hospitality businesses with pertinent information on it to encourage them to be a part of same.  “Hospitality Assured looks at the entire operational system of a business and assures its efficient operation,” she added.

Hospitality Assured Certification promises customers that service excellence is guaranteed by the company offering the service.  The Hospitality Assured framework helps to improve quality standards on a continuous basis thereby improving overall business performance and competitiveness.  The HA standards enhances the business’ marketability, thus generating great Public Relations; and instills confidence in important travel intermediaries including travel agents and tour operators.

Any hospitality, leisure or tourism related organization is eligible for HA, regardless of size or composition. They only need to hold a desire to improve service to customers and to achieve operational and business excellence.

The role of Mr. Grant and Mrs. Pickering as Business Advisors is to offer impartial and objective guidance and support to meet the minimum requirements of the 9 steps within the Hospitality Assured framework. Their role is one of facilitation and coaching to help the business recognize its own strengths and areas for improvement.  Grant and Pickering have been actively encouraging businesses in the tourism industry, in particular the smaller indigenous properties to raise their operational and physical standards as part of the Board’s Standard Inspection and Training Programme.

As HA Assessors, Dalmida-Scatliffe and McCoy will be required to review the company’s performance with respect to meeting the requirements of the 9 steps and 44 criteria within the Hospitality Assured certification.

The Assessor, as a sole assessor or as part of a team of assessors provides an independent, unbiased evaluation of a business at the time of the visit and prepares a report, which is reviewed and approved by the CTO and CROSQ before forwarding to the client.  McCoy and Dalmida-Scatliffe are eager to get into action once local hospitality industry businesses decide to embark on the Hospitality Assured Programme.

Other programmes of the BVITB aimed at enhancing the visitor experience include the Standards Training and Inspections programme and the Guest Services Experience Training.  The former was piloted with select small properties with the aim of achieving minimum service standards as well as physical improvements to properties that can enhance the guest experience.  The Guest Service Experience Training is being done in collaboration with the Disney Institute under the One BVI Tourism Awareness Programme which has as its mantra, “Tourism is Everybody’s Business”.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Destination News, Hospitality Assured

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Dominica Continues Recovery Six Months after Hurricane Maria Hits Island

Roseau, Dominica – (March 20, 2018), March 18, 2018 marks six months since a powerful Category 5  hurricane slammed the island nation of  Dominica.  Six months following Hurricane M aria, Dominica has made major progress in restoring routes to and from the island, essential services and amenities, and transportation throughout the island.

“Nothing is better for our recovery from Hurricane Maria than visitors to our island,” says Colin Piper, CEO of the Discover Dominica Authority. “We have made significant progress in getting the island ready for guests. Whether it’s for a relaxing getaway, special event or meaningful travel, visitors will see the same vibrant spirit of our people and beautiful scenery and features that make Dominica the Nature Island of the Caribbean.”

Access

Dominica has full connectivity to international and regional markets with regular flights offered by regional carriers including LIAT, Seaborne Airlines, WINAIR, Air Sunshine, Coastal Express Carrier and, most recently, InterCaribbean Airways. As of March 22, 2018, InterCaribbean Airways will operate nonstop scheduled services between Dominica, St. Lucia and Tortola. Chartered flights are also available via Sky High Aviation Services, and Trans Island Air.

The Douglas Charles Airport, located at Melville Hall, and the Canefield Airport have welcomed passengers since October, 2017.  Connections are available to Barbados, Antigua, San Juan, St. Maarten, St. Kitts, Tortola, St. Thomas, Anguilla, St. Lucia, St. Croix and St. Thomas.

Air access has been expanded with night landing available at Douglas Charles Airport until 8 p.m. for public flights and until 10 p.m. by special arrangement.

L’Express des Iles fast ferry service was operational within a few weeks after Hurricane Maria and provides service between Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique and St. Lucia. L’Express des Iles has partnered with Air Caraïbes to offer simultaneous airline and ferry bookings with connections to L’Express des Iles destinations.  Booking can be made on www.aircaraibes.com through the NavigAir programme.

Accommodations

A total of 393 hotel/guest house rooms are available.  This represents 41 percent of the total stock of 962 rooms available before Hurricane Maria.  Fort Young Hotel will open additional rooms and Secret Bay, Calibishie Cove and Citrus Creek Planation are expected to reopen in the last quarter of 2018.   Two additional properties, Jungle Bay Resort and Cabrits Resort Kempinski, are expected to open during the first half of 2019, and Anichi Resort late in 2019.  The opening of these three hotels will increase Dominica’s room stock by 340.

Sites and Attractions

The majority of sites and attractions, 19 of the 23 on the island, have been officially declared open to visitors.  These include the signature sites of Trafalgar Falls, Middleham Falls, Emerald Pool, Fresh Water Lake and the Indian River. Visitors can enjoy magnificent easy to moderate hikes across the island including, Syndicate Nature Trail, Cabrits/Fort Shirley and others. Diving tours are currently available with six dive operators offering dive tours at all of the key dive sites on the north, south and west coasts of the island. Divers can explore a world of incredible underwater vistas and discover why Dominica is ranked amongst the world’s top ten dive sites.

Voluntourism Packages

Dominica encourages visitors to get involved in meaningful tourism by considering a Voluntourism package. These unique packages are offered to assist Dominica with the cleanup of sites such as the Indian River, dive sites and the Waitukubuli National Trail.  Packages are being offered by the Tamarind Tree Hotel, Fort Young Hotel, Secret Bay, Cobra Tours, Cool Breeze Tours and Cabrits Dive.

Cruise Travel 

Before Hurricane Maria, Dominica was on course to receive 219 cruise calls during the 2017-2018 cruise season. This number has since been reduced to 34 calls and the country welcomed the first cruise vessel following the hurricane on December 28, 2017.  The Sea Cloud II anchored off Portsmouth and one month later, the MV Mein Schiff 3 of TUI cruises docked at the Roseau cruise ship berth.  Since then, the island has received an additional 16 cruise calls. Carnival Cruises is expected to make a total of five visits, commencing with three in July, 2018.

The people of Dominica continue to show their resilience and steadfastness in building a better Dominica. In mid-February, the country celebrated Carnival and plans are in motion for the 9th Annual Jazz ‘n Creole on May 20, 2018 at Fort Shirley in the Cabrits National Park, along with fringe events in Portsmouth on the weekend of the Jazz ‘n Creole main stage.

Plans are being made for World Creole Music Festival from October 26 -28, 2018 followed by the island’s 40th Anniversary of Independence celebration on November 3, 2018.

For more information on Dominica, contact Discover Dominica Authority at 767 448 2045. Or, visit Dominica’s official website:www.DiscoverDominica.com, see Dominica’s updates on the tourism sector post Hurricane Maria: www.dominicaupdate.com, follow Dominica on Twitter and Facebook and take a look at our videos on YouTube.

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

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LPIA Arrivals Spike, NAD Reports Best December, January in Company’s 11-Year History, Exceed Pre-recession Numbers

Nassau Airport Development Company (NAD), the management company responsible for The Bahamas’ busiest airport, reported today that air arrivals at Nassau’s Lynden Pindling International Airport during December 2017 and January 2018 were the highest in the company’s 11-year history and for the first time in a decade exceeded pre-recession travel levels.

Some 151,454 passengers landed at LPIA in December, 140,314 in January, the largest numbers since the pre-recession holidays of 2007/2008. December’s increase was the highest in a single month, up nearly 15,000 over the second-best year a decade earlier. Preliminary results for March are even more impressive – up by 24% over 2017 arrivals.

“The strong increase in air travel to LPIA is excellent news,” said NAD CEO Vernice Walkine. “While we are handling more passengers than ever before, we are also pleased that enhanced systems including pre-clearance check-in kiosks have made the LPIA experience smooth, efficient and enjoyable for passengers from around the world.”

The uptick in arrivals is being driven by several factors, according to airport officials. Among them, an increase in airlift, the return of Sunwing Airlines, strengthening of the Canadian dollar and a brutally cold winter in the U.S. northeast and Canada. They also credit a marketing and promotional ramp-up by Ministry of Tourism and destination partners, especially in Canada and specific markets in the U.S. and U.K. “Canada is driving growth in international arrivals all on its own,” said Jan Knowles, Vice President, Marketing and Commercial Development.

Canada has led the impact on the higher numbers with both West Jet and Air Canada seeing significant growth in their passenger numbers this season and capacity on flights averaging 89%.  The bitter cold and a change in flight times help account for the Canadian boost. British Airways also enjoyed about a 10% increase in air arrivals. According to another NAD official, a Baltimore to Nassau route operated by Southwest Airlines showed a strong increase over last year’s performance.

The Baha Mar factor is yet to be quantified but officials report that nearly every U.S. airline has added seats in anticipation of increased demand driven by marketing of the new luxury resort and casino. Various promotion boards’ marketing efforts are also credited with the image of Exuma’s famed swimming pigs driving traffic from far-off places to the islands of The Bahamas.

Overall, a 15% increase is projected in non-U.S. international seat capacity through June 2018.

According to Walkine, the company which has employed Bahamahost training for front-line staff across LPIA has focused on excellence in service delivery. That focus has paid off. Earlier this month LPIA walked away with third place honours when the Airports Council International announced its Best Airports in the Latin America and Caribbean Region.  More than 600,000 passengers throughout the region participated in the ranking process.

More than 3.3 million passengers pass through LPIA every year with the airport serving 55 destinations via 24 airlines.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Destination News

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Health Officials Determine the Islands of the Bahamas are Zika Free

March 1, 2018 – Two of the world’s leading health organizations have recently declared that The Islands Of The Bahamas do not pose a known risk to travelers of contracting the Zika virus.  No new cases of Zika have been identified in the country within the past 12 months.

On February 2, 2018 the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) removed The Bahamas from its list of “Areas with Risk of Zika,” which, according to their website, identifies places where pregnant women should avoid travel, and where travelers should strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and sexual transmission during and after the trip.

The CDC now includes The Bahamas under “Areas with Interrupted Transmission,” meaning Zika was previously found in the locations on this list but scientists have determined the virus is no longer present. The CDC states that travelers, including pregnant women, can visit these destinations with no known risk of getting Zika from mosquitoes.

Also on February 2, the World Health Organization (WHO) downgraded The Bahamas from a Category 2 to a Category 3 on its Zika Virus (ZIKV) Classification Table, signifying that there have been no new cases of Zika identified in the area or from travelers in the past 12 months.  This classification table evaluates the geographical distribution of Zika virus across four categories, Category 1 being the most threatening and Category 4 representing areas with no documented past or current transmissions. 

THE BAHAMAS AND ZIKA

The Bahamas Ministry of Health confirmed that the last reported cases of Zika were in November, 2016. At that time, all cases sought medical attention after having symptoms suggestive of Zika virus infection. All clients were treated for associated symptoms and did well. Based on the histories received from the cases, it was determined that there was a mix of travel-associated and local transmission.

Various government sectors in The Bahamas – the Ministry of Health, Department of Public Health and Department of Environmental Health – continue to work in partnership to operate an active surveillance program and intense vector control and mosquito management to prevent the threat of Zika transmission.

WHAT TRAVELERS SHOULD KNOW

Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected mosquito and by sexual transmission of an infected person. For tips on how to protect against Zika, visit the CDC’s Zika Guide for Travelers. Also visit the CDC’s Zika travel map and refer to the WHO’s ZIKA Classification Table for the most up-to-date information on Zika around the world.

For further information about Zika and The Bahamas, contact the National Disease Surveillance Unit at 242-502-4776, 242-502-4790, 242-376-3809 or 242-376-4705.

ABOUT THE BAHAMAS

The Islands Of The Bahamas have a place in the sun for everyone. Each island has its own personality and attractions for a variety of vacation styles with some of the world’s best scuba diving, fishing, sailing, boating, as well as, shopping and dining. The destination offers an easily accessible tropical getaway and provides convenience for travelers with preclearance through U.S. customs and immigration, and the Bahamian dollar is on par with the U.S. dollar. Do everything or do nothing, just remember It’s Better in The Bahamas. For more information call 1-800-Bahamas or visit www.Bahamas.com. Look for The Bahamas on the web on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. 

PRESS INQUIRIES
Anita Johnson-Patty
General Manager, Global Communications
Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation
[email protected]

Weber Shandwick
Public Relations
[email protected]

 

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Destination News

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