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Statement by CTO Secretary General, Hugh Riley, at the Opening Ceremony of SOTIC 2017

On behalf of the Chairman of the CTO’s Council of Ministers, whom I will introduce shortly, and on behalf of Mrs. Joy Jibrilu, the Chair of the CTO’s Board of Directors, I welcome you.

When the next chapter in the history of Caribbean tourism is written, the year 2017 will have a special mention.

Specifically, September will be remembered as the month when Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria, and a major earthquake, unleashed fury on parts of our beautiful Caribbean and other sections of The Americas.

Within a matter of weeks Mother Nature wrought her destructive power on Anguilla, Barbuda, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Florida, Mexico, Puerto Rico, St. Barts, Sint Maarten, St. Martin, Texas, Turks and Caicos Islands, and the U.S Virgin Islands, leaving in her wake death – and damage to property and economies in the tens of billions of dollars.

For us at the CTO, the 2017 State of the Tourism Industry Conference will be remembered as an event that created tremendous ambivalence.

Should we or should we not have a conference at this time?

How should we position it?

Have the reasons we created the SOTIC in the first place all gone away?

How do we balance the competing realities that for some, normality has come to a screeching halt – against the inevitability that life must go on?

And how should we counsel our members? Those that have suffered losses and are now struggling under the weight of the recovery process, are perhaps not able to take time away to attend a conference!

And what about those who were not impacted?

How would they feel if the CTO made a decision to set aside this important gathering, and leave it to the individual countries – each doing their own separate thing to keep their doors open and fuel the engine that keeps their economy running?

Those who are here, have answered those questions for us. In our opinion, and the opinion of our Chairman, whose country itself was impacted, you have made an important decision, and we thank you for being here.

The public sector and the private sector, the journalists, the students and the academics, the country representatives who can barely afford to take time away from the business of reconstructing their lives, we are honored by your presence here.

We have come to a place to share views on best practices, to exchange ideas on the way forward, to say thank you to neighbors and friends, to commiserate with each other, to celebrate being alive, and to take decisive actions that will help us to build economies that are sound and sustainable.

Because we get to write our own chapter in Caribbean tourism history, all of us gathered here over the next three days, actually have the wherewithal to determine the outcome of this conference in some individual way.

This must be the one where we learn from the events of the recent past, using those lessons to build a better, stronger future. The one where we accept that anyone of us can be knocked down hard at any time, but we must learn how to fight through the pain and rise again.

Just ask Grenada. Ask Dr. Keith Mitchell, who was also the Prime Minister when Hurricane Ivan ravaged this island in 2004. Ask Dr. Clarice Modeste, at the time the Minister of Works, what this island looked like with 90% of the buildings damaged.

This could be the SOTIC where we form such a strong One Caribbean Alliance and create such a meaningful resource that we never again find ourselves scrambling for funding just to be able to teach the world the geography of the Caribbean.

This could be the one where we convince our own people of the importance of tourism, not only as a debt reduction, employment generating, foreign exchange earning tool, – which it is – but also as a means to form lasting partnerships and strengthen the bonds among us.

Let us commit to doing whatever we possibly can to get our impacted brothers and sisters up and running again. Let us thank those who have opened their doors and their wallets, their schools and facilities, their hotels and their ships, to provide for and to accommodate their neighbors.

Let us reaffirm our commitment to use the power of the Caribbean brand to convince discerning visitors that the way to enhance their own lives, is to take full advantage of the uniquely enjoyable vacation experiences this region has to offer, knowing full well that the best way to help the Caribbean is to visit the Caribbean.

Let us never lose confidence in the enduring strength of the Caribbean brand.

 

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, SOTIC

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Statement by Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism on UNWTO Initiative to Assist in Caribbean Recovery

KINGSTON, Jamaica (4 October, 2017) – Jamaica continues to extend our thoughts and prayers to our Caribbean brothers and sisters, especially residents in those islands that took a direct hit from the recent hurricanes and to everyone who has been or will be affected as a result of these catastrophic storms.

We recognize that the entire Caribbean region will be adversely impacted by the lasting results of Hurricanes Irma and Maria and have set a course of action that is designed to minimize the long-term effect on the region.

We acknowledge, with thanks, receipt from the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), in conjunction with the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), the periodic status reports issued in cooperation with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), and applaud the efforts at assisting the region and ensuring that timely and accurate information is disseminated.

We are aware that CTO and CDEMA technical teams have been on the ground in the various islands doing rapid needs assessments and coordinating with the national authorities in managing the various interventions, to mitigate the pain and hardships that are so pervasive at this time.

As a direct result of these unprecedented hurricanes, a meeting was convened by the World Tourism Organization – the United Nations specialised agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism (UNWTO) – at the General Assembly in Chengdu, China on 13 September, 2017. There were some 10 countries from the Caribbean and Latin America represented at the meeting – Bahamas, Barbados, Colombia, Costa, Cuba, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela – in addition to representatives from the USA, France, Spain, the Netherlands, the UNWTO and the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). Trinidad and Tobago, a Caribbean member of the UNWTO, was absent from the general assembly.

The outcome of that meeting was a decision to assist in the Caribbean natural disaster risk management and response initiatives and to include in the programme for the UNWTO, Government of Jamaica and World Bank Group Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism in Montego Bay, Jamaica from 27-29 November, an opportunity for all interested parties to discuss and implement a plan of action.

As a proud host of this important global summit, Jamaica is honoured that the UNWTO has asked that I coordinate its involvement in this recovery effort for the region. The first step therefore was to reach out to the regional tourism organizations – CTO, CHTA and CDEMA – to brainstorm opportunities for collaboration.

Along with representatives of CTO and CHTA, we discussed how the CTO’s State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) taking place in Grenada on 10 -13 October could feed into the special session in Jamaica, and that a document will emerge from SOTIC which will help to inform that session at the Jamaica/UNWTO summit.

The portion of the SOTIC conference which will inform discussion at the Jamaica/UNWTO event is the Recover & Rebuild session, scheduled for 12 October.

The Recover & Rebuild session will be an in-depth four-hour segment where we will hear from leading experts in disaster preparedness and mitigation, recovery, funding, airport development and maintenance, airlines, cruise lines, telecommunications and media, as well as representatives of the hotel sector and member countries that have experienced – and recovered from – major catastrophes.

Recover & Rebuild will focus on the economic cost of the disasters, including the potential impact on gross domestic product, employment, the cost to rebuild and the recovery time. Key recommendations emerging from Recover & Rebuild will form part of the comprehensive document which we believe will have industry-wide international significance.

We urge everyone in the travel, hospitality and tourism industry including airlines, airport managers, cruise lines, cruise port managers, hoteliers, tour operators, travel agents and my fellow Ministers and Directors of Tourism across the region, as well as in our source markets, especially those in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, to attend both the SOTIC in Grenada from 10 to 13 October and the UNWTO meeting in Montego Bay, Jamaica on 27-29 November. These two crucial events will help set the course for recovery and growth for all of us over the next year and shape the future of tourism for the Caribbean region.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Caribbean Recovery

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CTO Launches Relief Fund to Assist With Hurricane Aid Efforts

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (8 Sept, 2017) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has activated its “CTO Relief Fund” through GoFundMe to help families and countries rebuild after hurricanes, particularly in the wake of the massive category 5 Hurricane Irma, which has impacted a number of member countries.

All of the money raised through the CTO’s Relief Fund will be sent directly to CTO-member destinations affected by the catastrophic storm, which hit some countries with winds up to 185 mph.

“The damage caused by the force of Hurricane Irma is an important example of why we must do whatever is possible to provide financial relief to those who need it most. It’s through this fund that the CTO channels monetary assistance to our impacted member states,” CTO secretary general Hugh Riley said. “The CTO appreciates all donations to assist in the recovery efforts in these countries.”

For more information on CTO’s Relief Fund or to make a donation, visit www.gofundme.com/hurricane-relief-fund-cto.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Corporate News

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STATEMENT FROM THE CTO ON HURRICANE IRMA

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (5 Sept, 2017) – As Hurricane Irma, a dangerous Category 5 storm, churns its way towards the northern Leeward Islands and the northern Caribbean, including the Bahamas, Cuba and Haiti,  the Caribbean Tourism Organization expresses concern for residents and visitors in the countries that are in the hurricane’s projected path, and pray that the impact will be reduced.

We have been in contact with our members and they assure us that they have been taking all the necessary steps to ensure that they are in a state of readiness.

We take this storm seriously. The safety of the Caribbean’s citizens and our visitors is the number one concern for the authorities and emergency response teams throughout the region.

The CTO is actively monitoring the hurricane and will share updates from our member countries on www.onecaribbean.org and our social media channels, as they become available.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog

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CTO & CACCI Create Cooperation Strategy for Diaspora for 2017-18

NEW YORK, NY (Aug. 21, 2017) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI) recently formalized a cooperation strategy between the two organizations to strengthen the role of the Caribbean Diaspora while sharing resources and creating sustainability for the people and the region.

“CACCI believes that now is indeed the time for serious, positive action. We stand ready to support the regional integration process and will continue to respond positively to the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), CARICOM, and OECS heads of government for assistance requested,” Dr. Roy A. Hastick Sr., the president and chief executive officer of CACCI  said in reference to the Caribbean Community and sub-regional grouping, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States, as he introduced Hugh Riley, the secretary general of the CTO, to the member delegates.

Dr. Hastick continued, “This is an excellent opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to continue to work with you and your team, and continue the collaboration on which to build an even more unified and stronger Caribbean Community.”

In his remarks CACCI Board Chairman Mr. Edmund Sadio made mention of the longstanding relationship between CACCI and the CTO and the important role of CACCI’s founder in being an unofficial ambassador for the Caribbean Diaspora.

“As the tourism development agency for the Caribbean, the CTO recognizes the role of the Caribbean Diaspora in contributing to the tourism success of our member-countries, generating investment, stimulating a wide range of commercial activity, injecting significant amounts of foreign exchange, and influencing decisions at the highest levels of the public and private sectors,” said Riley.  “CACCI has been an influential force in building valuable business relationships between the Caribbean Diaspora and the decision-makers of New York City and New York State. Our communities continue to benefit from Dr. Hastick’s credo that business networking works.”

As part of the meeting, CTO and CACCI finalized arrangements for reciprocal membership, making each organization a member of the other with the two leaders formalizing the process by an exchange of documents and membership insignia.

The next steps are to begin implementing elements of the cooperation strategy for 2017-18, including investment prospects for the Caribbean, educational opportunities for Caribbean students, and CACCI’s involvement in Caribbean Week New York 2018 scheduled for June, which has been designated as National Caribbean-American Heritage Month in the U.S.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Corporate News

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