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BVI Still Sailing

October 25, 2017 — Although the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and its tourism sector were deeply affected by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September, the Tourist Board can now proudly proclaim that we’re still sailing as of Nov. 1.

The BVI Tourist Board and government have been fully dedicated to restoring the territory to its luxurious allure. While many of the landside accommodations are currently closed, the BVI is thrilled to announce that the yachting sector will begin welcoming visitors in November. The following charter companies intend to resume sailing for the Winter 2017/2018 season – many of whom are bringing new yachts to the BVI for the first time:

The BVI Charter Yacht Society Boat Show will be held at Nanny Cay Marina from Nov. 7-10. The show will feature 30-35 luxury yachts, which is about half the number from previous years. While images after the storm have shown widespread destruction in the BVI’s boatyards, many yachts have been able to return to full functionality.

“The BVI has historically been the sailing capital of the world,” Charter Yacht Society Chairman Ruth Ross said. “And the reasons for this have not changed. Our water is still brilliant blue, the anchorages are still beautiful and near one another, and the tradewinds will be blowing.”

A sailing enthusiast’s delight, the BVI is excited to once again host the highly-anticipated Anegada Lobster Festival on Nov. 25 and 26. Guests are encouraged to stop by the event to indulge in delectable and authentic seafood offerings, entertainment and fun.

Additionally, the Tourist Board has announced that the BVI Sailing Regatta will be held as scheduled next spring, from March 26-April 1, 2018.

“We remain energized and optimistic that the destination’s tourism industry will rebound. Guests of the BVI have come to expect a luxurious, personalized experience in terms of the islands’ natural beauty and our unparalleled hospitality. When they return, this product will only have gotten better,” Director of Tourism Sharon Flax-Brutus said.

On smaller islands like Jost Van Dyke and Anegada, beloved restaurants and bars are working hard to reopen this winter. Foxy’s, for example, plans to host its iconic Old Year’s Night celebration to ring in the New Year.

Diving enthusiasts can enjoy the BVI’s vast marine life at the Wreck of the RMS Rhone, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, or at the new BVI Art Reef. Dead Chest, Peter Island, Norman Island and the Indians are also great places to experience underwater beauty. Meanwhile, the dive operator sector is focused on rebuilding efforts to become fully operational.

Starting Nov. 1, Dive BVI will operate initially from their main base at Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor while Sunchaser Scuba (Bitter End) and Sail Caribbean Divers (initially from the Moorings base) will begin operations the following month.

Commercial flights to the BVI have resumed, and travelers may reach the territory via connections in San Juan, St. Thomas, Antigua and St. Maarten. Upon arrival, visitors will have access to car rentals and taxis ready for hire, albeit with fewer vehicles available in some cases.

Inspiring tales from the relief and recovery efforts have swept the territory, as residents and friends of the BVI strive to rebuild what is still a dazzling destination.

A Facebook group designed to share news after the storm swelled to more than 32,000 members in just three weeks, and has spurred the launch of the first aid and volunteer organization focused solely on the BVI: One Love BVI.

All those interested in volunteer opportunities may visit BVIVolunteers.com.

Contact:

Perla George
Business Development Director
BVI Tourist Board
[email protected]
212-563-3117

Keith Dawson
Marketing Manager
BVI Tourist Board
[email protected]

Imani Rodman
Account Executive
M Booth (U.S. PR agency)
[email protected]

 

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Destination News

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Dominica Post Hurricane Maria Update

Roseau Dominica – (October 18, 2017) – Dominica was severely impacted by category 5 Hurricane Maria on September 18, 2017. Assessment of the country’s infrastructure, including roads, bridges and sites and attractions continues.  Updated information from daily press briefings are accessible at http://www.opm.gov.dm/.  Following is an update on island services:

Current Status

Dominica has classified this new period post Maria as one of relief, recovery and rebuilding.  The positive news is that many areas, communities and families are now moving from the relief phase to recovery. Restoration and repair of some services has begun. The Government led rebuilding phase will focus on incorporating best practices that ensure Dominica will be better able to withstand future acts of nature.

  • Main roadways have been cleared and damage is still being assessed.
  • Over 275 tons of food and 45,000 gallons of water have been distributed to over 93 communities.
  • All banks, some businesses and government offices are now open for business in the city.
  • The Ministry of Education is working to have 23 schools reopened by October 18, 2017. Many schools will reopen in their original buildings, while others will operate on a shift system or in an alternate location.

Travel

  • Most roads are safe for driving and motorists are advised to proceed with caution in certain areas.
  • LIAT Airlines and Seaborne have resumed commercial flights to Dominica and are operating at a limited capacity.
  • Seaborne Airlines began commercial flights to/from Dominica on October 11, 2017. Flights depart San Juan, Puerto Rico at 12:45 pm and depart Dominica 3:00 pm daily. For additional details, visit https://www.seaborneairlines.com/
  • LIAT Airlines will operate commercial flights as follows:
    • Return flight to Antigua (LI624) will operate on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday departing Antigua  at 11:30am and  Dominica at 1:10pm;
    • Return flight to Barbados (LI601) will operate on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday departing Barbados at 10am and Dominica at noon.

This schedule will run until November 7th when the airline will update its schedule.

For additional details, visit http://www.liat.com/ or call the Call Centre at 1-888-844-5428

  • L’Express des Iles ferry service is operating to Guadeloupe, Martinique and St. Lucia from the Roseau Ferry Terminal.  The ferry travels the Martinique /St Lucia route on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays departing Dominica at 10:30 am and on Saturdays at 3 pm.  Service to Guadeloupe from Dominica is at 11:30 am on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and at 9:15 am on Saturdays.  For additional information, please visit http://www.express-des-iles.com/index.cfm?lng=en .

Accommodation

  • Prior to Hurricane Maria, Discover Dominica Authority (DDA) had on record of seventy-three (73) properties / nine hundred and nine (909) guest rooms. As of October 17, 2017, sixty-four (64) of these properties have been reassessed for hurricane damage.  Assessments show that thirty-two (32) properties are moderately damaged and able to operate now or in the near future.
  • Twenty seven (27) properties have been severely damaged or destroyed, with serious to total destruction of structures including roofs, electrical and plumbing. Wi-Fi  is not available in most cases.

The properties that suffered moderate damage account for fifty one percent (51.4%) of the total room stock or four hundred and sixty-seven (467) guestrooms.

Tourist Activity

  • Most natural sites have been assessed.  Access roads to these sites have been damaged and consequently tourist sites and natural attractions are currently closed until repair work is complete.
  • Overall 35% of reefs at dive sites were damaged, particularly sponges and softer corals above 45 feet. Currently all nine dive operators are closed for business and most will not be operational before January 2018. Upon resumption the number of dives per day will be reduced to ease the strain on the fragile reefs.  Kindly check in with your dive shop for more details.

Utilities

  • The Dominica Water and Sewage Company (DOWASCO) has restored drinking water supply to 55% of its network and work is ongoing to restore pipe borne water to other communities.
  • The Dominica Electricity Services (DOMLEC) has restored electricity to parts of the capital city Roseau, Portsmouth and are continuing restoration of electricity to other communities.
  • Mobile phone service providers FLOW and Digicel have restored access to their mobile networks to a number of communities.  FLOW has restored 21 of its 49 mobile sites and land line phone service has been restored to parts of Roseau, Canefield, St. Joseph, Portsmouth, Morne Daniel, Mahaut and Pond Cassee.  Digicel has restored mobile service to communities in the north, south and west as well as Roseau, Portsmouth and environs.

Relief Operations

  • Relief efforts are being coordinated by the Office of the Prime Minister through the Emergency Organizing Committee.
  • Detailed information on relief operations can be found at www.opm.gov.dm.

While some of our accommodations and sites have been damaged by hurricane Maria, our welcoming spirit has not been deterred. Many within the hospitality sector have regrouped and welcome voluntourism visitors.  If you are interested in such a visit to Dominica kindly contact our office.

For more information on Dominica, contact Discover Dominica Authority at 1-767- 448-2045; or, visit Dominica’s official website: www.DiscoverDominica.com, follow Dominica on Twitter and Facebook and watch our videos on YouTube.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Destination News, Uncategorized

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Arrivals to Belize Continue Steady Growth Path

Overnight Arrivals

Belize City October 16th, 2017– For the first 9 months of 2017, the tourism arrivals continue to show a positive trend. The latest statistics show there was a 7.9% increase in Overnight arrivals in the month of September, representing an increase of over 1,400 visitors. In September 2017, arrivals through the International Airport increased only slightly, as the number of incoming flights were impacted by the threat of storms in the region in the early part of the month. An increase in the arrival of visitors thru the land borders in Northern and Western Belize assisted in these gains during September. The cumulative overnight arrival increase was 8.6% through the first 9 months of the year.

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Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Destination News

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Rainforest Adventures St. Maarten Announces November 2017 Opening

PHILIPSBURG, ST. MAARTEN (October 17, 2017) – Rainforest Adventures has announced a November 2017 opening for the new St. Maarten Rockland Estate eco-park. The park will launch with two signature attractions, The Flying Dutchman — the world’s steepest zip line — and the Soualiga Sky Explorer chairlift, as well as the Emilio Wilson Museum and Emilio’s Restaurant. Additional attractions, including the Sentry Hill Zip Line and the Schooner Ride will open in early 2018.

In partnership with the St. Maarten delegation, representatives of Rockland Estate will be attending the 24th Annual FCCA Cruise Conference & Trade Show in Merida, Mexico, October 23 – October 27, 2017. They will be at booth B2 and welcome an opportunity to answer questions about, or introduce participants to, what is sure to be the eastern Caribbean’s must-do attraction.

According to Port St. Maarten’s management the eco-park will be a major new attraction and they are proud of the progress the team has made to open the park. They stress how important it is to have stakeholders like Rainforest Adventures and others to be present with them at the FCCA Conference to promote the destination and strongly emphasize the message that St. Maarten is back and open.

“We are very proud and thankful to our engineering and construction teams, their hard work and expertise certainly reduced the damage incurred as a consequence of the hurricane,” says Shaydar Edelmann, General Manager of Rockland Estate. “The people of St. Maarten have come together in strength to restore and rebuild, reestablish the tourism product and kick-start the recovery of our Friendly Island.”

Princess Juliana International Airport has opened to commercial flights and Port St. Maarten is ready to welcome its first commercial cruise vessel on November 5th. Restaurant and attraction businesses are reopening daily and are ready to receive guests.

Opening November 2017 at Rainforest Adventures’ Rockland Estate Eco-Park  

  • The Soualiga Sky Explorer, a four-passenger chairlift, transports guests to the Upper Deck. These decks encircle the mountaintop, one of St. Maarten’s highest points at 1,115 feet, where they will be immersed in spectacular 360-degree views of St. Maarten and its neighboring islands.
  • The Flying Dutchman, the world’s steepest zipline, where guests will experience the thrill of a lifetime as they launch down Sentry Hill on a flight line at 56 mph dropping 1050 feet in elevation over 2630 feet.
  • Each adventure begins in the Emilio Wilson Museum housed in a restored plantation house originally built in the 1700s. Guests will see depictions of what life was like on a plantation and learn about the customs, traditions, lifestyle, and stories that earned Sint Maarten the nickname ‘The Friendly Island’.
  • Emilio’s Restaurant, Maarten’s newest restaurant and entertainment hot spot.

For more information and bookings email [email protected], visit www.rainforestadventure.com/st-maarten or call toll-free from North America at +1.866.SKYTRAM (1.886.759.8726). Follow us @rainforestadventuresxm on Facebook and Instagram.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Destination News

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Remarks by Joy Jibrilu, Chairman, CTO Board of Directors, at the SOTIC 2017

This has been one of the most important weeks in our recent history, with this conference coming in the wake of two of the most vicious hurricanes ever to hit the region, both in terms of intensity and the unforgiving nature of the devastation.

We were challenged this week to explore ways to help lift the people of the affected countries from the hardships imposed on them by the storms.

At the same time, while being sensitive to the impacted members of the CTO family, we were also challenged to consider ways to tell the world that most of the Caribbean remains open for business.

We recognised that there is a need by consumers, the media  and even travel industry professionals, of a greater understanding of the geography of the region.

Hence, there was general agreement that the Caribbean – both public and private sectors – must find the funds to get the message out.

Many of our friends in the local and international media have been doing a fine job is helping us tell the story, for which I’d like to thank them. However, when the crisis is over, when the story ends, when the issues change, the media will move on.

There will still be a need to keep reminding the world that the distance between Barbados and Belize is more than six times as great as Toronto to Montreal; that New York to Chicago is only half as far as the Bahamas to Grenada; Guyana to Cuba is twice as far as London to Rome and that Dominica and the Dominican Republic are more than three times further away from each other than New York to Washington DC.

Amid the adversity, came a renewed spirit of partnership; as cruise lines, the media, the hotel sector and governments, all came together with a single goal in mind – to help the affected recover.

We saw yesterday during the Recover and Rebuild session the spirit of cooperation, as the various partners contributed ideas on how to emerge from the hard times – bigger, stronger and more sustainable.

It was also an opportunity for the affected countries to share their stories and garner support.

This session will help to inform into the UNWTO, Government of Jamaica, World Bank Group and Inter-American Development Bank Global Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth, scheduled for November 27 to 29 in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Here in Grenada, Minister Ed Bartlett of Jamaica chaired a high-level meeting with the aim of developing a strategic framework for the establishment of a Global Caribbean Tourism Recovery Team (GCTRT) to coordinate the tourism product restoration efforts.

Also present at the meeting were representatives of the UNWTO, the World Travel and Tourism Council, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Jamaica Tourism Development Company.

It was agreed that a Global Caribbean Tourism Recovery Team (GCTRT) would be established under the chairmanship of Minister Bartlett, and would include representatives of the CHTA, CTO, the WTTC and the UNWTO.

A secretariat will be established, with responsibility for coordinating the technical support, capacity building, communication strategy, multilateral and bilateral agency engagement, as well as the management of public/private partnership arrangements regarding the restoration of the tourism product across the Caribbean.

The secretariat will have its first meeting later in October, when the formal strategic framework and governance structure will be developed.

Now, a brief word on the region’s performance so far this year.

The Caribbean had been performing at a healthy growth rate of 5.2 per cent between January and June, when compared to the same period last year.

This reflected economic stability in the market, expansion and inauguration of flights by major carriers, and new marketing and product development initiatives.

During the first six months, the region recorded 16.6 million international tourist arrivals, some 800 thousand more than in the first six months of 2016.

Growth was recorded in all major source markets except South America, which contracted by 14.3 per cent.

Up to June, the European market had grown by 7.9 per cent, Canada by 6.4 per cent and, despite the weak sterling, the UK by 4.8 per cent.

In the hotel industry, the half-year outcomes reported by STR Global showed that average occupancy increased marginally by 0.2 percentage points to 70.8 per cent, while the average daily room rate rose slightly by 0.2 per cent, moving from US$220.84 in 2016 to US$221.38 in 2017.

Like tourist arrivals, growth in the cruise sector also remained positive and stronger than the expected performance in the first half of the year. At the end of the first six months of 2017, it is estimated that cruise passenger arrivals to the Caribbean region had reached 15.3 million, 4.0 per cent more than in the corresponding period of 2016. This performance represented the largest number of cruise passengers in the region at this time of year.

However, with the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the growth rate will slow down in the remaining quarters of the year.

Hence, the expected growth rate of tourist arrivals will range between 1.0 per cent and 2.0 per cent in 2017, with the 2018 performance expected to be similar.

Let me take the opportunity on behalf of the chairman, Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar and the CTO, to thank you for your support, Minister Clarice Modeste-Curwen and team at the ministry of tourism; CEO Patricia Maher and the Grenada Tourism Authority team; and our own staff at the CTO for working so hard to execute a more successful SOTIC than many of us could ever have predicted.

Thank you for your participation.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, SOTIC

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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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