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Family Travel Association and Caribbean Tourism Organization announce partnership

NEW YORK, NY, 28 June, 2016: The Family Travel Association (FTA) and the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) have formally announced a partnership  to promote a travel agent educational programme for the Caribbean.  As part of the agreement, the CTO and CTO members who join the FTA will be eligible to work with the FTA and CTO in the development of educational material for travel agents. This includes webinars, editorial/content for trade partners, live events (conferences/trade show) participation, promotion on FamilyTravel.org and both the CTO and FTA newsletters.

“Our research indicates that 93 per cent of American parents are either “very likely” or “likely” to travel with their children in the next two years so we are thrilled to be working with the CTO and its members in not just inspiring families to travel, but to help travel agents better understand and sell the Caribbean to this complex demographic,” says Rainer Jenss, FTA President, who founded the organization in 2014 to create a single and collective voice on behalf of the travel industry and those companies that serve traveling families.

“Given the incredible wealth of experiences the Caribbean offers families, this partnership will ensure that travel agents are prepared to meet the needs of this highly lucrative market segment”, added Sylma Brown Bramble, Director CTO-USA, Inc. “We are particularly delighted about the value and opportunity the new FTA and CTO relationship will provide to the OneCaribbean Chapter (OCC) members.  Travel agents are one of our greatest assets in Caribbean destination travel and providing value to them through relationships like this is our way of showing appreciation for the great job that they do selling the Caribbean year after year”.

The One Caribbean Chapter (OCC) was created by the CTO  with the primary purpose of enabling a business environment in which travel professionals can gain access to knowledge of the region and its diverse tourism product; networking opportunities and education on the unique selling proposition of the various Caribbean destinations.

OCC is the vehicle which gives travel agents access and advantage to increase their business to over 28 Caribbean countries under the regional umbrella. The chapter provides education on the myriad niche products available in the Caribbean and destination support to prepare travel professionals for success in selling each country’s unique travel product.  oneCaribbeanchapter.org

For further information on the FTA and CTO upcoming webinars and programmes, please contact: programme and business development executive Wanda Fisher at  (510) 599-9844.

About the Family Travel Association
The Family Travel Association (FTA) was established in 2014 to mobilize the global travel industry around the large – and fast-growing – market for family travel. The organization is connecting the world’s leading travel suppliers, destinations, media brands, and influencers into a global network to grow the market by inspiring families to travel.  By harnessing the collective power and influence of its members, the FTA is educating travelers, the media, and travel agents on the variety of options families have when planning their vacations and what transformational benefits travel offers families.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Corporate News

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Caribbean on course to break 20 million arrivals barrier in 2016

NEW YORK, NY, 3 June, 2016 –   Tourist arrivals to the Caribbean are expected to surpass the 30 million mark for the first time ever this year, following a record 28.7 million arrivals in 2015.

Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Richard Sealy announced here on Thursday evening that the industry got off to a fast start in 2016, registering a 7.3 per cent rise in the first quarter over the corresponding period last year.

During this period, the Caribbean region welcomed approximately 8.5 million international visitors, 580,000 higher than the first quarter of 2015.

“This performance was buttressed by lower oil prices and the strong US dollar, which increased the appeal of the region to potential visitors. The many air service agreements ensured that the region had adequate seats to facilitate the flow of travellers to and within the region,” the CTO chairman explained.

Nineteen destinations showed improvements upon their 2015 performance, with eight registering double digit growth of between 10.5 per cent and 26.8 per cent.

The growth was led by intra-regional trips which rose by 12-9 per cent, followed by the European market which registered growth of 11 per cent.

The CTO chairman told media at a news conference at Caribbean Week New York that regional tourism officials have recognized that more needed to be done to keep visitors occupied while in the Caribbean.

“The CTO continues to work feverishly with our members to see how they can improve their product offering and diversify their markets,” he said.

The CTO has projected growth of between 4.5 per cent and 5.5 per cent in 2016.

Caribbean Week New York continues this evening with Rum and Rhythm, a benefit for the CTO Foundation, the regional tourism development agency’s scholarship programme which assists Caribbean nationals pursuing further studies in tourism and hospitality.

The Empire State Building will also light up in Caribbean colours tonight in observance of Caribbean Week New York, which celebrates the sights, sounds, colours, culture and unique holiday experiences of the Caribbean.

Caribbean Week New York is supported by American Express, Academy Engraving, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, the Atrebor Group, the Islands of the Bahamas, Barbados, Bloomingdales, Caribbean Airlines, Cayman Islands, CitiTech Solutions, Dominica, El Dorado Rum, Empire State Building, Grace, Grenada, Golden Crust, Jade Mountain/Anse Chastanet Resort, Jamaica, Marry Caribbean, Martinique, Nassau Paradise Island, Nevis, Proximo, Resonance, The Real McCoy Rum, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Sugar Beach, Travel + Leisure, Resonance Consultancy; Trinidad and Tobago, Turks & Caicos Islands, Sugar Bay Resort & Spa, Unique Vacations, Inc./Sandals and Williams-Sonoma.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Caribbean Week

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Caribbean Tourism Organization appoints experienced tourism professional as Sustainable Tourism Product Specialist

Amanda

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (17 May, 2016) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has appointed Dominican native Amanda Charles as Sustainable Tourism Specialist effective today.

Ms. Charles will coordinate and implement the CTO’s sustainable tourism programme aimed at enhancing the development, growth, quality, competitiveness and sustainability of Caribbean tourism.

Ms Charles is a tourism professional with several years of experience, having worked most recently as the adviser to the directorate of sustainable tourism at the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) in Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, a position she held for five years.

While there Ms. Charles coordinated the directorate’s sustainable tourism programme and managed the financial, technical and logistical aspects of the directorate’s projects and activities.

She also worked as a tourism specialist consultant at the Organization of American States (OAS) department of economic development, trade and tourism in Washington, DC and as a project consultant at the OAS department of sustainable development.

A CTO Foundation scholarship winner in 2006 and 2007, Ms. Charles is a graduate of George Washington University in Washington, DC from which she holds a master’s degree in tourism administration, with emphasis on sustainable destination management. She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in hospitality and tourism management, with minors in business administration and French, from the State University of New York (SUNY) Plattsburgh.

As the CTO’s sustainable tourism specialist, Ms. Charles will lead the organization’s agenda which includes helping to develop quality standards for Caribbean destinations and their tourism products and services; designing, delivering and/or coordinating training and development programmes dealing with sustainable tourism and product development; and providing and/or facilitating technical advice/assistance on management issues related to product development and sustainable tourism matters to Ministries of Tourism, Boards of Tourism and other public and private sector tourism entities in the CTO member states.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Corporate News

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CTO Sec. Gen. Remarks at 2016 Tourism HR Conference in Antigua

Remarks by CTO’s Secretary General Hugh Riley at the official opening of the CTO’s 8th Tourism Human Resources Conference Jolly Beach Resort, Antigua, May 11, 2016

Hon. Samantha Marshall, Minister of Social Transformation and Human Resource Development
Mrs. Paula Frederick-Hunte, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy
Mr. Colin James, Chief Executive Officer, Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority
Mrs. Vanessa Ledesma, Chief Operating Officer, Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association
Dr. Lorraine Nicholas, tourism specialist at the OECS Commission
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

RileyHRConf2016

It is a pleasure and an honor to be with you today to share a few opening thoughts as we tackle the business of Making Excellence a Habit.

My comments are just the appetizer because the experts whom Bonita Morgan and her team have assembled to speak to us over the next few days, will certainly serve up the main course.

Before we even begin, please join me in thanking The Honourable Asot Michael, Minister of Tourism for Antigua and Barbuda and his team of professionals for their gracious hospitality and their warm welcome to Antigua.

The person who met us and drove us here from the airport is certainly one of finest first impressions of a destination that I have ever had the pleasure to encounter. Cleo Henry’s knowledge, pride in her country and sheer eloquence, should be used as an industry best-practice.

Our gratitude too, must go to the Management and Staff at Jolly Beach Resort for their attentiveness and their obvious focus on satisfying the needs of their guests.

There is no denying that when we speak of customer satisfaction, we often tend to focus a disproportionate amount of attention on front line employees. Why? Because they are critically important to the delivery of the tourism product to the end user, and are therefore an essential source of immediate feedback on how we’re doing.

But in addition to the frontline, there are the legions of team members who are involved in every aspect of creating, selling, marketing, designing, building, defending, testing, researching and communicating the experience we ultimately deliver. Because we are tourism destinations, we naturally focus on visitors but the basic formula for winning the satisfaction and approval of our customers, works in virtually any field of endeavor.

So what is it that we really aim to achieve in our interaction with customers?

Imagine for a moment how our day would begin – and end – if we truly focused on making every customer a repeat customer. So regardless of what you do, you go to work tomorrow and decide that each interaction is going to be aimed at getting this person to come back to your restaurant, or hotel, watersports facility or country.

So automatically, you are now in the mode of doing such an excellent job to get them back, time and again, that you are spontaneously guaranteeing that their current experience is special. You are effectively making that process a habit.

When I was putting these few thoughts together about Making Excellence a Habit, I was curious to see how Webster, Oxford, Encarta and even the American Journal of Psychology defined a habit.  Generally speaking, they sort of agree that a habit is a regular tendency or practice. An automatic reaction to a specific situation.

So we effectively need to be making excellence automatic.

And why does it even matter if we’re excellent? Who cares? We all must care.

Because we are the world’s most tourism-dependent region, we must care more than anyone else. No one should pay more attention to delivering a superb experience, than we in the Caribbean.

Over the years I’ve discovered that not everyone is comfortable with the fact that we are so tourism-dependent.  To some it sounds like we are stuck there; like we are saying that somehow we should not develop other areas of our economies. We should not try to diversify. Of course we should. Countries all over the world that were overly dependent on one sector or another, have sought to diversify their economies; and interestingly, all of the world’s developed countries, rich in various natural and other resources, have turned serious attention to developing their tourism sectors!

There are reasons why the Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region.

The number one reason is that we have a huge competitive advantage. Where else in the world is there the combination of Dutch, English, French, Spanish, African and Asian cultures in one destination?

The Caribbean’s natural and built-heritage, its food, visual and performing arts, history and infectious hospitality are all attractive magnets for foreigners seeking a new narrative.

Stunning colonial architecture and pockets of indigenous peoples also provide rich experiences waiting to captivate curious discoverers.

Where else is there a combination of excellent weather, all year-round, alluring beaches and infectious rhythms?

The Caribbean is proud to possess 25 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, located in 14 countries. Some of the Caribbean’s sites were inscribed on the list as early as 1982, placing us on the list before prominent countries like China, India, Spain and the UK.

So those are some of the competitive advantages that make us proud of our tourism prominence.

But as important as it is to have all of that, the adhesive that must bind it all together is service excellence.

Our competitors around the world can always have deeper pockets and taller buildings; but no one should have better people than the Caribbean. Nowhere in the world should there be a population that is more dedicated to acquiring the tools and using the resources available to constantly assess and improve our performance. In other words, as a region we must pay close attention to customer response mechanisms, so that we always know how our guests are defining excellence.

That feedback is essential. Grab every realistic opportunity to communicate with your guests and find out how they really feel. Only by knowing how we are doing, can we constantly improve.

At the Caribbean Tourism Organization we feel so strongly about this that we created a monitoring mechanism for destinations. Guestpitality – Total Visitor Satisfaction asks visitors to assess their destination experience in seven critical sectors. This is on-the-ground feedback on how a country is doing in the most vital areas of a visitor’s experience. Just as high scores are validation of what you are doing right, Guestpitality also points out the sectors that need attention. If we want to be excellent, we must make collecting feedback a habit!

We all know that there are good habits and bad habits; and as we also know, habits are hard to break. So let’s choose good ones, and then make them impossible to break!

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, HR Conference

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Region to be challenged to move from good to great at CTO Tourism Human Resources Conference

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (15 April, 2016) – The Caribbean’s economic viability and sustainability must continue to attract the attention of leaders and policymakers in all walks of life as the region continues to grapple with the challenges of the 21st century.

“As companies and nation states, we must consider that what we have done in the past may not be good enough; what got us this far may not get us to the place where we create the loyalty and profitability we desperately need,” said M. Ian Blanchard, an action business coach and former chief executive at telecommunications company Cable & Wireless.

Mr. Blanchard will be a presenter at the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO)’s 8th Tourism Human Resources Conference in Antigua & Barbuda from 11-13 May. He will speak on the topic, From Good to Great: Driving Leadership & Organizational Excellence and will challenge participants to “become better versions” of themselves and fulfil the Caribbean’s true potential.

“We live in an age where opportunities abound, where we have access to a global audience in ways that are much cheaper and easier than ever before. In order for us to move from good to great and derive leadership and organizational excellence we must care more, not just about or own island, our own nationals, our own families or employees, but about the wider, the broader, the bigger picture. We must care about legacy, about building transgenerational capacity and about making a difference that will outlast us,” he said.

The session will address four key areas – clarity, accountability, reflection and execution – that are essential to drive leadership and organizational excellence.

“We will explore our path and create clear actions for moving forward,” he added.

The conference theme is, Making Excellence a Habit: Service, Loyalty and Profitability in Caribbean Tourism. It is being organized by the CTO in collaboration with Antigua & Barbuda’s Ministry of Tourism and the Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority and will be held at the Jolly Beach Resort and Spa.

For more information, including how to register, visit www.onecaribbean.org or email Marvelle Sealy at the CTO at [email protected]

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, HR Conference

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Caribbean tourism sets new performance records

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (16 Feb. 2016) – For the first time ever since the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) began keeping records, the Caribbean outperformed every major tourism region in the world in setting new arrival and spend records in 2015 while exceeding expectations.

International tourist trips to the region grew by seven per cent to 28.7 million visits, much higher than the projected four to five per cent growth. Visitors spent an estimated $30 billion, a 4.2 per cent rise over the $28.8 billion spent in 2014.

“So 2015 was the second year in a row that the region has done better than the rest of the world, and the sixth consecutive year of growth for the Caribbean,” the CTO’s secretary general Hugh Riley revealed today in announcing  the record performance at a news conference at CTO headquarters, streamed live to a global audience that spanned the Caribbean, the Americas, Europe and as far as Asia.

Mr. Riley attributed the growth to improved global economic conditions in the marketplace; a boost in consumer confidence, particularly in the United States; falling oil prices; rising seat capacity and persistent marketing by CTO member countries and their partners.

The CTO reported growth in all the major markets – the United States, Canada, Europe, the Caribbean and South America – with the intra-regional market performing better than it has ever done before.

“Despite concerns about the cost of travel within the region, the intra-Caribbean travel recorded its best performance since we started keeping records. In 2015, traffic from the Caribbean market accounted for six per cent of total arrivals into the region, with 1.7 million visits among the various states, an increase of 11.4 per cent over the previous year,” the CTO secretary general said.

The US, which remains the Caribbean’s primary market, accounting for about 50 per cent of arrivals, grew an impressive 6.3 per cent to 14.3 million visits.

The Canadian market grew by 4.5 per cent to 3.4 million; Europe accounted for 5.2 million visits, a 4.2 per cent jump over the previous year and South America continued its rapid growth, generating 2.1 million visitors, an 18.3 per cent jump over 2014.

Of the 5.2 million European visited, 1.1 million came from the United Kingdom, which recorded a 10.4 per cent rise.

“The European market made significant gains in 2015, with its best performance in seven years. For the first time since 2008, total arrivals from Europe reached the five million mark, a rise of 4.2 per cent compared to 2014. The UK was one of the dominant performers, growing by a healthy 10.4 per cent to 1.1 million visitors. Arrivals from Germany recorded an even better 11.5 per cent rise, while France was relatively flat, increasing by 0.8 per cent.

“Needless to say, we are very pleased with the Caribbean’s performance of stayover arrivals in 2015.  In each Quarter the region recorded at least six per cent growth over the corresponding quarter for 2014; and each month in 2015 was better than the same month the previous year.

“Still, the Caribbean cannot be complacent.  We must continue to grow our traditional markets, strengthen emerging ones and penetrate new sources as we target the 30 million arrivals mark we set some years ago.  Our efforts to improve our product quality, enhance our marketing, grow our rate base, increase our profitability, and constantly offer excellent value for money, must continue,” Mr. Riley advised.

The CTO secretary general also announced growth in the cruise sector, although at a slower rate of 1.3 per cent, with 24.4 million cruises in Caribbean waters.

He said the outlook for 2016 was positive with tourist arrivals expected to increase by 4.5 to 5.5 per cent, while cruise is estimated to record one to two per cent growth, as summer redeployment of ships continues.

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