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Contributions of Indigenous People to Caribbean Tourism to be Celebrated at STC 2019

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (2 Aug. 2019) – Today’s travellers are booking experiential vacations that allow them to immerse themselves in the culture, people and history of a destination. Recognising this, indigenous communities across the Caribbean are accessing tourism markets and welcoming visitors to encounter their traditional ways of life.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) will highlight this important development in a general session at the upcoming Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development taking place 26-29 Aug. 2019 at the Beachcombers Hotel in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The panel titled “Indigenous Conversations – Celebrating Our Past, Embracing Our Future” is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on 27 Aug. The session will look at the changing composition of local livelihoods and demonstrate how the region’s indigenous people have a tangible role and stake in the Caribbean tourism value chain. Indigenous communities are utilising tourism markets to embrace expanded entrepreneurial opportunities, adding new dimensions to their sources of income, and create niches that are increasingly sought after.

Session speakers include Uwahnie Martinez, the director of Palmento Grove Garifuna Eco Cultural & Fishing Institute in Belize, a private island retreat owned and operated by local Garifuna people; Colonel Marcia “Kim” Douglas, colonel of Jamaica’s Charles Town Maroon Community; a representative of the Indian Creek Mayan Art Women’s Group of Belize and Rudolph Edwards, the toshao (chief) of Rewa village in Guyana, a small Amerindian community of about 300 people, mostly from the Makushi tribe, who founded the Rewa Eco-Lodge in 2005 in an effort to protect their land for generations to come.

The session will be led by Dr. Zoila Ellis Browne, who was born in Belize and is the head of the Garifuna Heritage Foundation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, where she is committed to the development of her indigenous heritage. A magistrate by profession, Dr. Browne also volunteers as technical programme consultant to the foundation, a Vincentian non-governmental organisation promoting Garifuna heritage and culture.

The conference, otherwise known as the Sustainable Tourism Conference (#STC2019), is organised by CTO in partnership with the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority (SVGTA).

Under the theme “Keeping the Right Balance: Tourism Development in an Era of Diversification,” industry experts participating in #STC2019 will address the urgent need for a transformational, disruptive, and regenerative tourism product to meet ever-rising challenges. The full conference programme can be viewed via https://www.caribbeanstc.com/program/

St Vincent and the Grenadines will host STC amidst an intensified national thrust towards a greener, more climate-resilient destination, including the construction of a geothermal plant on St. Vincent to complement the country’s hydro and solar energy capacity and the restoration of the Ashton Lagoon in Union Island.

To register for the conference, visit https://www.caribbeanstc.com/register. Rates are available for general delegates including CTO members and non-members, St. Vincent & the Grenadines residents, travel agents and students (both local and international rates).

Sponsorships are available for the conference and can be viewed via: https://www.caribbeanstc.com/sponsor. Contact Sylma Brown Bramble at 212-635-9530 or [email protected] for additional information.

About the Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development

The Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development is part of the information dissemination and regional awareness component of CTO’s strategy for sustainable tourism. It looks at how member states can design and implement sustainable tourism policies and programmes, offering a regional forum for information exchange on the successes and pitfalls of national, regional and international initiatives.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, STC

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Caribbean Airlines Launches Mobile App

Piarco, Trinidad and Tobago, W.I., July 25, 2019 — Today, Caribbean Airlines launched the latest of its digital products, the Caribbean Airlines Mobile App. The app is designed for use by IOS and Android devices and features an array of tools to enhance the customers’ travel experience. It is available for FREE download for Android and iOS users on the Google Play Store or the Apple App store.

The new Mobile Application enables customers to use their mobile devices to:

  • book flights to all destinations serviced by Caribbean Airlines and its interline partners
  • pay for Caribbean Plus seats or extra baggage
  • check-in and select seats via an interactive seat map
  • book a domestic flight between Trinidad and Tobago and pay in Trinidad and Tobago dollars

On the occasion of the launch of the mobile app, Caribbean Airlines CEO Garvin Medera stated: “At Caribbean Airlines we are focused on improving our customers’ overall travel experience. Having all the information and options you need at your fingertips definitely helps – which is why we developed your all-in-one travel partner, the Caribbean Airlines Mobile app. The app makes booking and managing the travel experience easy and dynamic. I am also pleased that one of the features of the app, is the ability for our customers to pay for flights between Trinidad and Tobago, in Trinidad and Tobago dollars. With the Caribbean Airlines Mobile App added to our digital tools we will further revolutionise how we communicate and interact with our valued customers”.

The launch was held at the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine Campus, Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering (DCEE) and was attended by Professor Brian Copeland – Pro-Vice Chancellor and Campus Principal, Dr. Fasil Muddeen – Head of Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and other senior University officials.

At the event, Caribbean Airlines also welcomed several UWI DCEE students into its Summer Internship Programme, where they have the opportunity to work on IT related projects alongside the airline’s IT teams.

Commenting on the event, Dr Fasil Mudeen, Head of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department said: “For the past two years Caribbean Airlines have participated in our Engineering Internship course.  Electrical and Computer Engineering students were offered summer internships with the CAL team and were assessed and then given credits at the final year.  Caribbean Airlines has even continued to mentor the students post internship and have agreed to co-supervise final year projects in big data, data analytics and software development. I would especially like to complement Mr Medera who had the vision to recognise the need for this digital transformation and more importantly had the confidence in CAL’s IT department and its engineers, our graduates, to rise to the challenge and deliver world class solutions for our world class airline.”

Aneel Ali, Caribbean Airlines, Chief Information Officer added: “Today’s launch is aptly held at the UWI’s Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering, a hub for learning and innovation. We are happy to strengthen alliances which will see young, aspiring minds collaborate and innovate which is critical to the development of our entire Caribbean region. We look forward to a mutually beneficial learning and working experience with our new UWI DCEE Summer Interns.” 

The functionality of the Caribbean Airlines Mobile App will be rolled out in phases.

Some of the features which are immediately available include:

  • Home screen that shows your upcoming flights where you can view your trip details easily and check in 24hrs prior to departure
  • In app notifications, once customers subscribe at booking or check in, you can receive notifications for any irregularities that may come up during your flight journey with us (gate changes, flight delays etc.)
  • Easy to access home screen icons to check in, manage your booking and view flight status
  • Ability to create and store a local profile. This personal data is stored locally on your device for easy fill in during booking. Profile information can be entered once to be used at any time when booking – First Name, Last Name, Caribbean Miles number, Travel document details etc.
  • Menu for quick access to book a car, book a hotel, access flight schedules, services and info providing quick links to other unique Caribbean Airlines products and services such as Caribbean Upgrade, Club Caribbean, Caribbean Vacations, Duty Free, Caribbean Flight Notifications and more!
  • Live chat facility to be able to web chat with an agent digitally during our call centre hours.
  • Help Centre quick link access to be able to access FAQs
  • Ability to book a domestic flight between Trinidad and Tobago and pay in TTD currency.

Posted in: 2019 News, Allied News, Blog

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Bartlett appoints New Director of Visitor Safety and Experience to further Review Security Audit Report

KINGSTON, Jamaica; July 29, 2019: Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett has appointed a new director of Visitor Safety and Experience, Major Dave Walker, to further review the initial report from the recent island wide security audit of the tourism sector. Following this review, Major Walker will submit a final report with recommendations on the way forward by the start of the winter tourist season in December.

Minister Bartlett, who made the announcement today, said, “Major Walker comes to the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) with a wealth of security experience and has been directed to critically review findings from the initial report with a view to analysing the data and providing recommendations on constructing a new architecture for security in the sector.”

Major (Retd) Dave Walker, has spent in excess of twenty three years in the military where he served in various operational and strategic capacities.  Major Walker was a Military Advisor in Sierra Leone and a Military Advisor dealing with matters relating to regional security with the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS).

Major Walker holds a Master’s Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies and a Master’s in Business Administration both from the University of the West Indies.

Minister Bartlett also highlighted that, “An important outcome from this further review will be the creation of a Manual on Tourism Ethics, a first of its kind, which will guide not just the expectations of security infrastructure in the sector but how we interface with each other.”

Last year, Minister Bartlett ordered an intensive security audit of hotel properties across the island. The aim of the audit was to identify gaps and ensure a strategy of a safe, secure and seamless destination for visitors and locals alike. The TPDCo, which is in charge of maintaining quality assurance within the destination, coordinated the intensive security audit with support from internationally recognized security expert, Dr. Peter Tarlow.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Destination News

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Mid Year Performance Results Trending in a Positive Direction

St. George’s, Grenada – July 26, 2019 – On the heels of double-digit growth and a landmark total visitor arrival of 528,077 in 2018, the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) is delighted to report positive growth in total visitor arrivals of 1% for the first half of 2019. The destination welcomed a total of 318,559 visitors between January to June 2019 compared to 314,916 for the same period in 2018; this represents a 1.15% growth.

The stayover market, which represents our most lucrative visitor, grew by 3.81% with 82,399 visitors staying in our hotels, guesthouses and villa accommodations.  The average length of stay of these visitors from our source markets is 8.5 days. The US accounts for 45% of our market share, followed by the UK with 17% and the Canadian market with 12%. Our focus is on expanding our reach in our traditional source markets and we now have four international gateways in the US for the upcoming Winter Season including JFK New York, Miami International, Atlanta and Charlotte, North Carolina.

We were able to hold our own with a slight increase of 1.33% in cruise visitor arrivals of 223,051 for the period compared with the phenomenal growth numbers of 220,125 last year. This is testimony of the hard work by the team to increase engagement with the cruise lines and keep Grenada top of mind with cruise executives. The GTA is planning an Aquila Professional Tour Guide training in September for our public and private stakeholders to enhance the customer experience in the destination.

The Yachting sector arrivals for the period remained flat with 15,318 compared to 15,420 in 2018. Grenada’s geographical location south of the hurricane belt should augur well for these numbers in the coming months. Port Louis Camper & Nicholson Marina is currently expanding its berths by 50% to accommodate more yachts for the Winter Season.

The GTA calculates revenue numbers based on monthly visitor expenditure surveys. These survey results indicate that the average daily spend is approx. EC$ 306 for the period January to June 2019. Total revenue generated for the period was EC$ 233,835,812 in the destination.

Based on recent external survey results, the cruise visitor spends on average EC$ 141, compared to the last survey of EC$ 133; a total of EC$ 26,791,436 in revenue generated for the destination. In total for the year to date, we estimate that EC$ 260 million was spent directly in Tourism in Grenada and that is not including the indirect spend in the economy. While this is significant revenue, the GTA is actively encouraging more spend in the destination with the production of a new shopping video and the packaging of immersive experiential tours.

With increased airlift from some of our major airlines, Jetblue, LIAT, Caribbean Airlines and American Airlines for the carnival and winter seasons, the GTA projects stayover visitor arrivals to grow by 5% in 2019.

Chief Executive Officer of the GTA, Patricia Maher is encouraging visitors to enjoy the many attractions and experiences throughout Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique. She added “With our abundance of natural assets, warm and friendly people and safe environment, visitors can discover every parish and island of Pure Grenada, the Spice of the Caribbean.”

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Destination News

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Caribbean Tourism Stakeholders Urged to Rethink Direction of the Industry

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (25 July. 2019) – Leaders in the Caribbean tourism industry have been advised that a rethink of the direction of the tourism industry to maximise the value of its natural and intrinsic assets is needed to create better selling points for destinations. The maximisation of these assets means that those who work in the industry must be empowered to keep driving it forward.

The suggestion came from the acting secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Neil Walters who was speaking at the Grenada Tourism Authority’s inaugural awards ceremony held at the Spice Island Beach Resort in Grenada. Walters stressed that stakeholders must embrace and develop the strengths of their people to keep the industry among the most competitive in the world.

“Yes, we can have the most beautiful properties, the best airports, the best seaports, but it is the people who make the Caribbean tourism product what it is. It is your welcoming and hospitable spirit which encourages visitors to return,” said Walters.

The acting SG said demands from visitors for experiences beyond the traditional ‘sun, sea and sand’, only served to enhance the need for the industry to equip the hospitality workforce to perform at the highest level.

“If we took a snapshot of tourism at this point in time, we will see that one of the strongest reasons for the continued growth in the number of persons visiting our shores is the spirit exuded by the amazing individuals who get up and go out and work on the front line every day.  The individuals who don’t just see it as a job but see the value of the service they are giving. That is the thing success stories in this industry are made of,” said Walters.

He said the trends towards experiential tourism call for the industry to shift away from excessive standardisation and embrace the unique culture of the destinations in the Caribbean.

The acting SG encouraged tourism leaders to leverage the natural beauty and infrastructural edge the region has to develop emerging areas such as community-based tourism.

“In all the examples of community-based tourism I have seen, the key selling point for the visitor has been the chance to come and be in that community, to experience that community, to experience the people of that community. These communities create the unified voice necessary to market and sell the product, and, in turn, sustain the community’s project,” said Walters, who emphasised such an approach must build on the existing model of hotels which form the bedrock of the thriving Caribbean tourism industry.

“What we have to strive for is stronger links between this model with its sea and sand and the experiences which lie sometimes unlocked, away from the sea shore. As we change to match the demands of the times and embrace the treasures of experiences which exist inland, we must re-educate ourselves to see the value that we often overlook. Facets of traditional life that we may see as less than noteworthy, visitors may see as fascinating,” said Walters.

Walters said the Caribbean must embrace its identity and take pride in elements of its culture that can also serve to boost the attractiveness of destinations to the modern day visitor.

“I know that in recent times, across the Caribbean we have seen food festivals emerging which promote indigenous cuisine, which are popular with visitors. Well, let’s not hold back on the traditional delicacies which we are sometimes hesitant to unleash on visitors. I am sure many of our visitors would love those experiences. Some of our countries have communities skilled in pottery. We may need to move away from just selling pottery to giving pottery lessons.  These are just a couple examples of the ways the things we do and how we live can become added value as we enhance our tourism industry” said Walters.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Corporate News

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Tourism Stakeholders Recognised for Excellence and Innovation

St. George’s, Grenada – July 23, 2019 – It was a night of glitz and glamour as the tourism stakeholders exemplifying service excellence and innovation were awarded. The 2019 Tourism Awards 2019 took place at the Spice Island Beach Resort on Thursday July 18 under the theme, ‘Celebrating Successes, Looking to a Bright and Sustainable Future.’ The initiative was conceptualized to celebrate the industry’s success by recognizing tourism businesses and stakeholders make significant contributions. The awards criteria included, “length of service, quality of service, feedback (online or otherwise), unique selling propositions, innovative business aspects and other contributions to the sector.

Also recognized during the ceremony were the three recipients of the People’s Tourism Choice Award 2018 chosen from nominations received by the public during Tourism Awareness Month in November. Nominations were accepted from the eight sectors of the Tourism Industry.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation Hon. Dr. Clarice Modeste- Curwen thanked all the awardees and stakeholders in general for their contributions to the industry especially following the historic half a million visitors mark achieved last year. She said, “On top of the phenomenal growth last year, up to May 2019, a 4.96% increase was recorded for stayover arrivals while the cruise and yachting sectors are also on the positive side of growth. This continued growth could not happen without the efforts of everyone in the tourism industry and our people.”

Delivering the Keynote address was Acting Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Neil Walters. Walters. He praised the initiative to ensure that stakeholders were awarded from multiple sectors in the industry. He also stated that because visitors want experiences different from their country, “A whole new frontier has opened up and the only limit is our imagination in the process of turning our normal way of life into an experience we share with visitors to our shores.”

Acting Prime Minister Hon. Gregory Bowen underscored the importance of the industry to Grenada’s economy saying, “If one considers the direct contribution of tourism through sources such as restaurants and accommodation, to the GDP of this country, it is 6%. However, we understand that when we consider the linkages and indirect contributions, that figure grows to 23.3%. This is indeed significant. Therefore, government through the Ministry of Tourism and Civil Aviation is working to maximize the benefits from this industry.”

Receiving the Minister’s Special Achievement award was Sir Royston Hopkin K.C.M.G, the Managing Director of the Spice Island Beach. Sir Royston’s contributions to tourism spans over 3 decades and continues till present and he and his family have build the Spice brand into a world recognized luxury brand. Sir Royston graciously accepted the accolade and encouraged citizens to invest in developing quality products and offerings.

The following are the list of awardees:

People’s Tourism Choice Awards:

Allison Caton, Isle of Reefs Tours (Tour Operator)
Esther Boca, Esther’s Bar (Food & Beverage)
Christopher Mc Donald, (Tour Guide) – Caribbean Horizons Tours

Minister’s Awards:

Food and Beverage-Bogles Roundhouse Restaurant, Carriacou
Transportation-National Taxi Association
Accommodation- Petite Anse Hotel
Adventure Tourism and Recreation – SPECTO, Leatherback Turtle Nesting Tour
Events- Spice Island Billfish Tournament
Attractions- Belmont Estate
Travel Trade- Caribbean Horizons Tours
Sustainability Champion- True Blue Bay Boutique Resort
Cruise Business Development – George F. Huggins & Co. Gda Ltd.
Community Tourism – Mt. Moritz Breakfast

Special Achievement Award-Sir Royston Hopkin K.C.M.G.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Destination News

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