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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.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Corporate News

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Destination rebranding services for Dominica

Discover Dominica Authority (DDA) is pleased to invite Expressions of Interest (EoI) from consulting, marketing and creative agencies to undertake activities towards a destination rebranding.  The services required include research and creative services to help better define and communicate the brand personality, brand identity, brand essence and brand promise of destination Dominica.

Expressions of Interest, which should be no more than 3 pages, should describe the company’s set up, capabilities and experience in providing the necessary research and creative services and reasons why it should be included in the shortlist of companies to be invited to tender by Discover Dominica Authority.

The shortlisted firms will receive an invitation and Request for Proposal from Discover Dominica Authority to take part in a Competitive Selection Process for the contract to provide the Destination Rebranding Services.

Expressions of Interest should be submitted to Mr. Colin Piper, CEO/Director of Tourism, Discover Dominica Authority at [email protected] and copy Monique Jacob at [email protected] no later than 23rd February, 2016.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Destination News

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FAQs on ZIKA & Travel to the Caribbean

The spread of the Zika virus in the Americas, with Brazil as the epicentre, and the possible though not yet proven accompanying link to microcephaly has, understandably, caused concern. The Level 2 alert issued by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created doubt among some potential travellers to the Caribbean as to whether or not their health is at risk and whether or not they should continue with their travel plans.

Conflicting information about the virus, coupled with the yet unconfirmed link to microcephaly, has led to uncertainty and confusion, which in turn leads to panic.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) are aware that you have a number of questions about your travel plans. We have therefore compiled a series of Frequently Asked Questions in relation to Zika and travel to the Caribbean. We hope you will find these details helpful.  We implore you not to panic.

 

How is the Zika Virus impacting Caribbean Tourism?

It’s too early to tell but all indications are that there are very few cancellations as a result of Zika.   The Caribbean set a record for visitors arrivals in 2015 and all indications point to continued growth and its popularity as one of the world’s most desirable warm weather destinations.

Should I cancel my Caribbean holiday?

No. However, as always we advise you to travel sensibly and to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself against insect bites, including mosquito bites, in very much the same way you would on any holiday in any tropical country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and other health agencies, including the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have said that Zika symptoms for the vast majority of people are mild and last two to seven days. In fact, according to the WHO and the CDC, four in five people who contract the virus never know they got it, and if you get it once you develop immunity for life.

What are some of the concerns?

Concerns have been raised about a condition known as microcephaly and its effects on the unborn children of pregnant women. However, the WHO itself has stated several times that it has no proof of a link between Zika and microcephaly. In fact, there is other research that suggests there is no link and that there are other causes of the suspected rise in cases in Brazil. There are also no reported cases of microcephaly linked to Zika outbreaks in other countries or regions. Also, according to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), microcephaly is extremely rare in the Caribbean and there are no cases linked to Zika.

How worried is the Caribbean that Zika and the extensive news coverage will impact tourism this year?

We take the health and safety of our guests very seriously. Based on the evidence, we firmly believe that the Zika virus does not pose an extraordinary threat to visitors to the Caribbean. We will continue to closely monitor developments and if fresh evidence emerges that suggests otherwise we will advise accordingly.

In the meantime, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) remain in close contact with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to monitor and research the Zika cases in the Caribbean and to communicate prevention and control measures to residents and visitors, while the health authorities in our member countries are taking the necessary steps to limit the number of new cases.

Local populations and visitors alike are assured that the Caribbean remains open for business and safe for travel. The CTO and CHTA will continue to work closely with CARPHA to assess the situation, but we encourage visitors to continue with their travel plans to the Caribbean and follow the advice and precautions issued by the World Health Organization, similar to those which are provided to travelers to most tropical destinations.

Note also that the World Health Organization has not issued any travel restrictions to affected countries.

Which Caribbean countries are most at risk? 

The Zika outbreak has been concentrated in Brazil and South America, with approximately 1.5 million suspected cases in Brazil. By contrast, there have been around 200 suspected cases in the Caribbean, spread across about a dozen of the region’s 30-plus countries. Most individuals  who contracted the virus have already recovered.

What special measures are Caribbean tourism industry and health authorities taking to calm guest’s nerves or head off their concerns?

Caribbean countries and hotels continue their proactive measures similar to those used to combat other mosquito-borne viruses.  Staff and guests are being provided with the necessary information so they become familiar with how it can be prevented, how it can be transmitted, its signs and symptoms.  Insect repellent containing DEET is being placed in hotel rooms, or made easily available for purchase.

Many of our member countries undertake national clean-up campaigns to try to eradicate breeding grounds, while an increasing number of hotels install mosquito screens on windows and/or supply guests with bed nets in areas where the sleeping quarters are exposed to the outdoors.

Which airlines have you confirmed have taken this measure regarding travel, specifically to the Caribbean?

We are aware that a number of airlines, cruise lines and tour operators have announced cancellation or change policies. These policies vary from carrier to carrier and we encourage travellers to check with their travel agents or carrier if they are uncertain of the policy. We also recommend that you check with your hotel to inquire about its policy on cancellations and/or change of dates of guests.

How can visitors to the Caribbean protect themselves from contracting Zika?

We continue to encourage visitors to protect themselves from mosquito bites by using long lasting repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 on exposed skin.  Many of our guests come to the region to enjoy the sunshine, therefore, we advise those using both sunscreen and insect repellent, to apply the sunscreen first, then the repellent.

What is the Caribbean’s call to action?

Firstly, there is no reason to panic, but ensure precautions are taken to protect yourself from insect bites and stay informed about the Zika virus. The number of cases in the Caribbean is small and we anticipate that proliferation will be limited. However, we continue to encourage all communities to approach this matter seriously and aggressively, recognizing that the most effective way to control Zika is to eliminate mosquitoes.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, ZIKA

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Isla Verde tourism to strengthen as ESJ Towers completes renovation

Isla Verde, an iconic high-density tourist area in Puerto Rico, is projected to see a boost in tourism as the transformation of ESJ Towers is finalized. The renovation of ESJ Towers to ESJ Azul, is one of the pillars proposed to revitalize Isla Verde beach. An $8 million investment made toward remodeling the property will provide a total of 450 rooms for visitors.

“The opening of ESJ Azul, as well as new tourism projects, represent an awakening in this area which is fundamental in strengthening the tourism industry in Puerto Rico,” said Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC) Ingrid I. Rivera Rocafort. “These projects will create a new edge on innovation, entertainment and life to this iconic neighborhood in Isla Verde.”

New projects on the island include the remodeling of ESJ Tower, El Noir and El Verde, which have been great investments in the tourism industry and have created nearly 1,000 jobs, resulting in a boost to the economy of Puerto Rico.

This new initiative, known as the rebirth of Isla Verde, is led by Keith St. Clair, a veteran of the tourism and travel industry. With the opening of ESJ Azul, the initial project of the new vision for Isla Verde, St. Clair compliments the functions of a first-class hotel with excellent attractions, services and housing, positioning Puerto Rico as a destination.

“Since I came to Puerto Rico, I have enjoyed the advantages of investing and living on the island, and I am convinced that tourism is one of the key factors to economic recovery and growth. This multi-billion dollar investment made on ESJ marks the beginning of a new stage in Isla Verde, and allows new facilities to continue to promote the tourism sector,” said St. Clair.

“This rehabilitation will provide more variety and attractive offers to visitors, resulting in a great opportunity to give the tourism industry a diverse and dynamic leadership role in the country,” said Rivera Rocafort.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Destination News

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CTO and CHTA Statement on the ZIKA Virus

Public health authorities in the Caribbean are working diligently to mitigate the effects of the Zika virus. Zika, also known as ZIKV, is spread primarily by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

The public-sector-led Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and its private sector counterpart, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) are in close contact with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to monitor and research the Zika cases that have now surfaced in some Caribbean destinations, and to communicate prevention and control measures to residents and visitors.

The CTO and CHTA are in communication with their respective stakeholders and are observing national, regional and international health protocols in dealing with mosquito-borne viral diseases which can be found in tropical countries.

With more than 700 islands in 30 territories in the Caribbean, conditions will vary from one nation to another.

CTO and CHTA will continue to monitor all developments related to mosquito-borne viral diseases and to support appropriate communication, education and prevention initiatives.

ZIKA GUIDELINES FOR TRAVELLERS: http://carpha.org/Portals/0/docs/ZIKA/ZIKA-GUIDELINES-FOR-TRAVELLERS.pdf

ZIKA GUIDELINES FOR HOTELS AND GUESTHOUSES: http://carpha.org/Portals/0/docs/ZIKA/ZIKA-GUIDELINES-FOR-HOTELS.pdf

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, ZIKA Virus

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First Bed and Breakfast inaugurated in San Sebastián

The Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC), Ingrid I. Rivera Rocafort, and the Mayor of San Sebastián, Javier Jiménez Pérz, announced the opening of the first Bed and Breakfast (B&B) in the municipality of San Sebastián. The B&B, located in the historic center of town, has four bedrooms and encompasses a Creole-inspired atmosphere through its mix of antique and contemporary furnishings. Rates start at $99 per night.

“Yaiza Arvelo Serrano and Edwin Cortés Seguinot, owners of the B&B in San Sebastián and new entrepreneurs in the tourism industry, believed that tourism development could blossom with the first two Bed and Breakfasts certified by the PRTC program,” said Rivera Rocafort. “With an investment of nearly $65,000, the opening of the B&B in San Sebastián will increase room availability by four units, as well as offer three direct and five indirect jobs.”

“The opening of this Bed and Breakfast, has opened the possibility to a new lifestyle in which we share our home, our people and our country with individuals throughout the world,” said Serrano.

The San Sebastián B&B offers personalized service and a complete breakfast, including local produce found throughout the island. The breakfast provided features a stuffed ham and cheese pocket produced in La Esperanza, natural fruit juice, fresh fruits and gourmet Puerto Rican coffee. In addition, the new B&B will offer guests free Wi-Fi access and cable TV.

Nearby the B&B, visitors can find a number of activities in the town, including a historic century-old church, the History Museum of San Sebastián and City Hall. San Sebastián is also home to a number of bakeries, pizzerias and Creole eateries. Additionally, San Sebastián has a variety of nature attractions, such as the well-known Gozalandia waterfall and Lake Guajataca. Also close in proximity, is the Rio Camuy Cave Park, Arecibo Observatory and Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Park.

Puerto Rico Tourism Company Bed and Breakfast (B&B) Program Information

  • B&B Inns are the smallest lodging accommodation available on the Island. Each house has at least three rooms, but no more than six.
  • The resident of the property is the host and provides each guest breakfast services as an essential part of the facility’s per-night rate.
  • The B&B Program encourages visitors to discover the culture and tourist attractions of a destination, while experiencing intimate and specialized accommodations provided by a local family service.
  • The goal of the program is to offer tourists diversity of lodgings throughout their stay in Puerto Rico.
  • The implementation of this program began in December of 2013 with the inauguration of Casa Sol in San Juan. San Sebastián Bed and Breakfast now joins Casa Sol (San Juan), Casa Castellana (San Juan) and Dos Angeles del Mar (Rincon), as a certified B&B.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, Destination News

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CTO’S State of Industry Conference Receives Overwhelming Endorsement from Delegates

(BRIDGETOWN, Barbados) 23 December 2015 The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO)’s State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC) which was held in Curaçao in late October has received a ringing endorsement from delegates, with well over nine out of ten rating the event highly.

A survey of delegates conducted during and after the conference has revealed that 95 per cent rated SOTIC excellent or good, and 100 per cent said they would attend another CTO conference. Ninety-six per cent said the theme, Caribbean Tourism: Growth Through Innovation, was well chosen.

“With the survey results now in and the analysis having taken place, it gives us clear insight into what delegates want, what we have done well and what we must improve on,” said secretary general Hugh Riley.

“We are pleased with the survey results but we know we must keep striving to make each conference even better than the one before. Already we’re developing incredible ideas for the 2016 SOTIC, which will be in Barbados.”

The poll found that virtually all of the delegates scored the sessions, the entire conference and the host country, Curaçao, very highly, with three-quarters saying it was good value for money. Nearly nine in ten (87 per cent) thought all the sessions were either good or excellent, with the session entitled, ‘The Age of Innovation – Increasing ROI’, rated by 96 per cent of delegates as either good or excellent. The keynote presentation by Robin Hayes, the CEO and President of JetBlue was also highly acclaimed, with 94 per cent of delegates scoring it excellent or good.

Other survey highlights include:

  • All delegates rated the Caribbean Tourism Youth Congress good or excellent.
  • Ninety-seven per cent thought the closing party was good or excellent.
  • The opening ceremony was well received with 86 per cent rating it good or excellent..

The CTO State of the Industry Conference is the pre-eminent tourism gathering in the region. It brings together tourism decision-makers, including ministers, commissioners and directors of tourism, hotel and airline executives, travel agents, students, the media and persons directly and indirectly involved in tourism. .

This year’s conference was held in collaboration with Curaçao’s Ministry of Economic Development and the Curaçao Tourism Board, with support from the UNWTO and the WTTC.

A date is being finalized for SOTIC 2016 in Barbados and will be released as soon as it is agreed.

Posted in: 2016 News, Blog, SOTIC

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