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Montserrat Celebrated in the UK on St Patrick’s Day

Speaker raises first flag to the British Overseas Territories the British Overseas Territory of Monserrat is being celebrated by the Speaker of the House of Commons with the raising of the country’s flag in New Palace Yard.

The tiny island, which sits just south of Antigua, celebrates St Patrick’s Day on 17 March – the same day it commemorates the nine West African slaves who lost their lives after a failed rebellion in 1768.

In fact, Montserrat, which has a population of less than 5,000 people, is the only nation in the world outside Ireland that treats St Patrick’s Day as a national holiday. This stems from the fact that the majority of the island’s early settlers, who landed in the 17th century, were predominantly of Irish origin.

Sir Lindsay Hoyle said it was important that the UK Parliament marked the ceremonial days of the British Overseas Territories. “Now more than ever is the time to celebrate and commemorate Montserrat, particularly as many Montserratians now live in the UK as a result of a volcanic eruption that destroyed the southern side of the island, including the capital Plymouth, in the mid-1990s,” he said. “I want to nurture our relationship with the overseas territories, and this starts in a small way by recognising and respecting these countries that mean so much to us by the raising of flags on their national days.”

The Hon. Joseph E. Farrell, Premier of Montserrat, said: “The Government and people of Montserrat are delighted at having our island’s flag raised at New Palace Yard on 17th March 2021. This is indeed an auspicious accession, especially on St. Patrick’s Day when both Montserrat and Ireland celebrate a shared history and rich heritage.”

Montserrat, which is 11 miles long and seven miles wide, was named by Christopher Columbus in 1492. He believed the pear-shaped island resembled the land around the Spanish abbey of Santa Maria de Montserrat. A self-governing overseas territory within the Commonwealth, Montserrat’s head of state is the Queen, who is represented by an appointed governor.

Posted in: 2021 News, Blog, Destination News

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Airbnb and the CTO Collaborate to Promote Tourism 2021

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (17 March 2021) – As part of its global efforts to work with governments and tourism agencies to support responsible travel and local economic growth, Airbnb announced its partnership with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) to promote its member countries across Airbnb’s vast global community. This collaboration is designed to amplify the Caribbean’s recovery from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic by promoting safe, responsible travel to the region.

As part of this partnership, Airbnb is launching a marketing campaign that includes the rollout of a series of email newsletters and a landing page highlighting the CTO’s member countries and their respective protocols for safe travel during this time. Airbnb has also pledged to share data with the CTO, including travel trends, to facilitate informed marketing decisions during this recovery period.

The promotional landing page for this partnership will be unique to others worldwide. It will integrate 18 countries from the English, French and Dutch Caribbean, promote homes in each destination, and links to each country’s website.

“With the Caribbean continuing to re-open, we’re helping to usher in the safe return of travel to this wonderful region by shining a light on the many places to see and things to do,” stated Carlos Munoz, Airbnb Policy Manager for Central America and the Caribbean. “We’re also excited to promote the important economic impact driven by hosting on Airbnb.”

This partnership is one of the many initiatives in the CTO’s ongoing programme to help its members rebuild tourism in their destinations. “The partnership with Airbnb will help us to promote the region responsibly by providing our members with a platform to showcase their destinations while at the same time highlighting the health safety measures that each has implemented to ensure that visitors can enjoy a safe Caribbean experience during this time,” shared Neil Walters, Acting Secretary-General of the CTO.

This partnership joins previously announced collaborations with organizations, including the Tourism KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), the National Parks Foundation and Bermuda Tourism Authority.

Posted in: 2021 News, Blog, Corporate News

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Crystal Cruises Launches New Close-to-Home Bahamas Escapes 

NASSAU AND MIAMI, MARCH 11, 2021 – Today, in a joint virtual press conference with the Honorable Dionisio D’Aguilar, Minister of Tourism & Aviation for The Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Crystal Cruises announced its plans to restart cruising with new close-to-home Bahamas Escapes beginning July 3, 2021 with a series of 16 seven-night, round-trip cruises from Nassau on its award-winning flag ship, Crystal Serenity. In addition to its Nassau itineraries, Crystal will also offer 16 seven-night voyages round-trip from Bimini beginning on July 4, 2021. With her new Bahamas Escapes cruises, Crystal Serenity becomes the first ship to homeport in The Bahamas, as well as the first ocean ship to sail from the Americas since the cruise industry’s voluntary halt in operations almost a year ago. In attendance at today’s press conference announcing the new Bahamas Escapes cruises were Jack Anderson, Crystal’s interim president and CEO, Minister D’Aguilar and Director General Joy Jibrilu, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.

“Like our guests, we have been eagerly looking forward to the day we can welcome them back on board, and we’re thrilled that this day will come in The Bahamas,” Anderson said. “The new Bahamas Escapes cruises will allow travelers to enjoy luxury cruising now, as well as bring much-needed benefits to the local workforce, airlines, restaurants, retailers and hotels for pre- and post-cruise stays. The launch of these cruises will also drive economic growth to The Bahamas, which, like other destinations around the world, has been negatively affected by the global pandemic.”

“The Bahamas is ready and delighted to welcome cruise visitors back to the islands and to partner with Crystal Cruises in the effort to restore and help re-activate our tourism industry and protect jobs and businesses,” D’Aguilar said. “Crystal Cruises will go on record as the only cruise line offering Bahamas-only voyages that highlight the signature features and experiences travelers can find here in our islands, and the support that these cruises will bring to multiple communities within the country will be tremendous. We have worked tirelessly to ensure a safe and healthy stay for all travelers, enhancing the innately spacious and outdoor-focused experience the islands provide. Guests will find ample room to roam and a warm welcome from the people of this unique destination.”

Anderson added, “We can offer these cruises with mutual confidence, thanks to the meticulous planning and health and safety protocols that both Crystal Cruises and The Bahamas have put in place, which Crystal Cruises’ sister cruise line, Dream Cruises, has successfully implemented in Taiwan and Singapore for over seven months with no incidents on board. The all-Bahamas itineraries allow us to sail without risk of border closures, and our North American guests to sail as close to home as possible.”

The Beauty of Exploring Again

Crystal Serenity will return to sailing with reduced capacity, providing guests a passenger space ratio that is twice that of contemporary cruise lines and allowing for the best social distancing aboard any cruise ship. The onboard Crystal Family will welcome guests back home to a shipboard experience that features spacious guest staterooms and suites and social areas; abundant choices for activities and enrichment; elegant surroundings and amenities; and most importantly, the genuine, personalized service provided by Crystal’s celebrated crew.

The new itineraries highlight the enchanting, romantic nature of The Bahamas and its islands, where guests will find a bevy of sun-drenched pursuits that showcase the destination’s ecotourism; thousands of miles of irresistible beaches and blue waters; scuba diving and snorkeling; world-class fishing; dining; resort experiences; and much more.

“Travelers’ sense of exploration has only grown over the past year, and the destinations featured on the new itineraries are ideal for unwinding and renewing the spirit, as well as adventures that remedy restlessness brought on by extended stays at home. Some of the destinations we are calling on are only visited by private yachts and our guests will have the opportunity to visit these idyllic places that are not on other cruise itineraries,” Anderson said.

Departing from either Nassau, a hub of art, nightlife, history, 17 spectacular beaches, colorful fish and ancient reefs, lavish resorts and straw markets, and home to the third-largest wine cellar in the world built by notorious pirate, Howard Graysmith; or Bimini, a Hemingway favorite known as the sport fishing capital of the world where cruisers can also enjoy the resort amenities of The Beach Club at Bimini, a private island oasis with a lagoon-style pool, hammocks, cabanas and cocktail lounge. In addition to Nassau and Bimini, Bahamas Escapes feature four idyllic Bahamian destinations:

  • Harbour Island, called the Nantucket of the Caribbean with its colorful New England architecture and famed for its Pink Sand Beach. The island is a former capital of The Bahamas and has been twice recognized as The Best Island in the Caribbean by Travel + Leisure Guests can also discover Preacher’s Cave, Glass Window Bridge and Sapphire Blue Hole on North Eleuthera Island;
  • Great Exuma, the largest of the 300+ islands and cays of the Exumas, home to waters so stunning they can be seen from outer space and the famous swimming pigs. Guests can island-hop among pristine isles, snorkel gorgeous reef-fringed cays, escape to secluded beaches and hidden caves, enjoy an ATV adventure and dive clear waters;
  • San Salvador Island, featuring more than 50 dive spots and splendid beaches. Guests can hike up to Watling’s Castle ruins and gaze out at French Bay from the lookout tower; also they can visit the first landing spot of Christopher Columbus, marked by an iconic stone cross;
  • Long Island, an 80-mile-long island straddling the Tropic of Cancer and known for its white-sand beaches, technicolor waters and lush greenery. Guests can explore the geological and ecological exploration of Hamilton’s Cave and Dean’s Blue Hole and enjoy some of the bluest waters in the islands at Gordon’s Beach.

These ports of call are subject to final confirmation and enhancement and may also vary according to the captain’s discretion due to weather or other conditions.

For an extraordinary value, guests can extend their cruise vacations by choosing Crystal’s Extended Land and Hotel Programs feature that carefully selected shoreside partners to ensure a seamless vacation from ship to shore. For Crystal Serenity’s new voyages, these include Nassau’s SLS Baha Mar and Hilton Resorts World Bimini, where guests will enjoy luxury accommodations and daily breakfast, as well as the stylish amenities of each. Guests can also indulge in spa days, golf rounds, casino nights and a host of dining experiences in each tropical paradise. The pre- and post-cruise hotel programs in Nassau and Bimini start at $359 and $299 per guest, respectively, including transfers between the resort properties and the airports and all taxes and resort fees.

Comprehensive Health and Safety Measures

Crystal announced on February 18 that guests must be fully inoculated with a COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to boarding any Crystal ship. This new requirement is in addition to existing, comprehensive Crystal Clean+ 4.0 measures, including negative COVID-19 tests for both guests and crew, reduced capacity, social distancing, nimble mask policy and health screening questionnaires.

In addition to the peace of mind provided by such robust protocols, Crystal is enticing travelers with compelling savings, reduced deposits and an extended final payment date to 60 days prior to first date of service, as well as other incentives. Best available cruise fares for the new Bahamas Escapes cruises start from $1,999 per guest, including $500 Book Now Savings and $500 air savings along with Best Available Savings by category. Guests will receive a $125 per person As You Wish shipboard credit with Crystal Society Savings doubling to five percent; new-to-Crystal guests saving 2.5 percent; and solo fares starting at just 125 percent. The company’s Crystal Confidence program offers a no-money-down deposit window until April 5, 2021, with a reduced deposit of just 15 percent due at that time as part of its Easy Book program. The Bahamas Escapes cruises open for reservations on March 18, 2021; and travelers with Future Cruise Credits and Future Cruise Payments may redeem them on these sailings.

The new Bahamas cruises will replace Crystal Serenity’s previously scheduled itineraries that were set to sail July 8 through and including October 19, 2021. Guests who were booked on these voyages have the option to transfer their bookings to one of the new cruises with an applicable 115 percent cruise credit based on cruise fare paid.

A leader in unrivaled luxury cruising for 30 years, Crystal Cruises distinguishes its ships and its voyages with fine details and nuances that make a big impact for discerning travelers. All-inclusive entertainment; diverse enrichment options; globally inspired dining, including Nobu Matsuhisa’s only seagoing restaurants; unlimited pours of fine wines, beers and premium spirits and an unwavering standard of genuine, personal service for each guest underscores the Crystal difference.

Photo Link: Crystal Serenity and The Bahamas

Posted in: 2021 News, Blog, Destination News

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Antigua and Barbuda Begins Vaccination for Tourism Frontline Workers

JOHN’S, ANTIGUA (MARCH 15, 2021) – The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has begun the Covid-19 vaccination process for frontline workers in the Tourism Industry.

Speaking on the accelerated vaccination process for those within the country’s vital tourism industry, CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Colin C. James said, “We are encouraged by the enthusiasm of our tourism stakeholders who made themselves available for the vaccine.

The continued health and safety of our tourism workers remains a priority for us as we welcome visitors safely to our destination and prepare for a strong tourism rebound when travel restrictions ease within the next few months in our key source markets.”

Over two thousand (2,000) Hospitality professionals across Antigua and Barbuda to include Hotel workers, Tours Operators, Restaurant and Retail employees were vaccinated this past week.

Mr. Alex de Brito Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association stated that “It is of utmost importance for us to protect our employees. Our industry cannot survive without their dedication, hard work and commitment to seeing the Industry bounce back. With so many already taking the step towards vaccination, we are confident that our destination will have a positive image in the international travel media. Our message is definitely one that promotes the safety of our destination and the commitment that the Government has shown in reviving the economy of Antigua and Barbuda and getting us beyond the grips of the pandemic.”

Additionally, 473 persons from the airline community also received their first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week, at the VC Bird International Airport.

Amongst those given the opportunity to receive the vaccine were Administrative, Operations and Security staff of the Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority, airline staff, concessionaires, ground handlers, taxi drivers, red caps, and tour companies.

CEO of the Antigua and Barbuda Airport Authority Euletta Francis reflected on the past year.

“In March 2020, the pandemic forced the closure of our borders.  Today, I am mindful that we are at this point having come through an extremely challenging year.  I am indeed grateful that employees who have sacrificed so much and overcome their worst fears during a difficult time got this important layer of protection in the fight against Covid-19,” Francis noted.

To date, over 23,000 persons in Antigua and Barbuda have been vaccinated.  Those vaccinated include health care workers, senior and vulnerable citizens, educators, those within the public sector, and tourism frontline workers.

Posted in: 2021 News, Blog, Coronavirus (COVID-19), Destination News

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Caribbean Tourism Performance Report 2020

Overview

Across the Caribbean,  the impact of COVID-19 on the travel and tourism industry has been very apparent. The impact was particularly evident during the period of April to about mid -June when there was literally no activity in some of our destinations.

This was characterised by empty hotels and restaurants, deserted attractions, shut borders, laid-off workers, grounded airlines and crippled cruise lines. While we saw some fluctuations in the levels of visitors for the remaining months of the 2020, the influx of visitors has not reached levels even closely comparable to those being experienced prior to March 2020. In fact, some destinations remain closed to visitors, with limited airlift primarily for repatriation of locals and cargo.

Cruise lines plying Caribbean routes remain non-operational due to a  strict ban imposed by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC).

With government restrictions both in the Caribbean and globally reducing, and in many cases, preventing travel for large periods of time, the Caribbean had a significant drop in arrivals in 2020, although the region performed better than any other region in world.

Data received from Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) member countries reveal that tourist arrivals to the region in 2020 fell to just over 11 million, a declined of 65.5 per cent when compared to the record 32.0 million tourist visits in 2019. Still, this was better than the world average of 73.9 per cent decline during the same period.

This lower rate of decline in the region can be attributed to two key factors: a significant portion of the Caribbean’s winter season (January to mid-March 2020) saw average levels of tourist arrivals when compared to 2019, and the fact that the main (summer) season in other regions coincided with the period where there was normally very limited international travel.

A period of virtually no tourism began in mid-March – the second quarter was the worst-performing with arrivals down by 97.3 per cent. But tourists began visiting again in June as the sector began to reopen.  Still, the fall-off in stayover arrivals continued through to September – when a gradual reversal began –  and continued right up to December. Destination initiatives such as the long-stay work programmes, other promotional activities and efforts of regional organisations such as the CTO, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and the Caribbean Public Health agency, contributed to the gradual rise in arrivals.

Cruise

Like stayover arrivals, cruise was buoyed by the performance in the first three months of 2020, particularly the month of February, when there was a 4.2 per cent rise in visits. However, a 20.1 per cent fall in the first quarter was followed by no activity for the remainder of the year as ships remained non-operational. The overall result was a 72 per cent slide to 8.5 million cruise visits, when compared to the 30 million visits in 2019.

Visitor Expenditure

The limited travel beyond the first two-and-a-half months of the year, resulted in difficulties in compiling visitor expenditure numbers in 2020. However, based on information derived from international partners such as the UNWTO, and the limited reporting by Caribbean countries,  we estimate that across the region visitor expenditure declined by 60 to 80 per cent, in line with the decline in stayover and cruise arrivals.

Preliminary data indicates that the average length of stay for 2020 remained at roughly seven nights, the same as in in 2019.

Forecast

The Caribbean’s performance in 2021 will depend largely on the success of the authorities in the marketplace and the region in combatting, containing and controlling the virus. Already, there are some encouraging signs like the vaccine roll-out taking place in North America, Europe and the Caribbean.

However, this must be tempered by some other factors such as: lockdowns in our key source markets which are expected to continue into the second quarter,  international travel confidence not expected  to pick up until the summer 2021,  a steep fall in the number of people planning to travel abroad and the possible requirement by the authorities in our key markets for their citizens to vaccinate before travelling abroad.

With these factors taken into consideration, our initial forecast is for a 20 per cent rise in arrivals in 2021, with a similar increase in visitor expenditure, when compared to 2020.

Posted in: 2021 News, Blog, Corporate News

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