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Archive for SOTIC

Saint Lucia voted Chair of the CTO

NASSAU, Bahamas (2 October, 2018) – Saint Lucia has been voted in as chair of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), with the election today of its Minister of Tourism Dominic Fedee, ending the two-year term of the Bahamas, which ascended to the position in Barbados in 2016.

His election took place late this evening at the Atlantis, Paradise Island resort where the CTO held its annual general meeting ahead of the official opening of the State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC).

Following his election Mr. Fedee said he was humbled and proud that his colleagues had placed their trust in him. The new chairman also stated: “We have an opportunity to advance the strength of our collective purpose. We have to spare no effort to use our collaboration at the CTO level to help to advance the wider integration movement and the CTO can be seen in the same ilk as West Indies cricket and the University of the West Indies as success stories to unite the Caribbean further.

“The Caribbean is one of the strongest and one of the most iconic and aspirational travel brands in the world but also it is the most underutilised and the opportunity exists for us to ensure that we utilise the strength of the brand for the collective good of the destinations of the Caribbean.”

The Saint Lucian minister has named Tiffany Howard, the acting chief executive officer of the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, as chairman of the CTO board of directors, since, according to the CTO constitution, the board chairman and the chairman of the Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism must come from the same member country.

In addition to the election of the chairman, vice chairs were elected to serve on the executive committee of the board of directors to represent various sub-groups – Curacao, representing the Dutch Caribbean; Haiti representing the French Caribbean; Bahamas and Jamaica, representing the independent Caribbean Community countries and the Cayman Islands representing the British overseas territories. This committee will be completed with representatives from the private sector.

Today’s vote was in keeping with the CTO constitution which mandates that elections must be held every two years and that the chairman cannot serve consecutive terms.

This year’s conference at the Atlantis, Paradise Island resort is organised in collaboration with the Bahamas’ ministry of tourism and is sponsored by Martinique’s Aimé Césaire International Airport, Cititech Solutions, JetBlue and Delta Air Lines, with support from American Airlines, Bahamas Air, Caribbean Airlines and InterCaribbean Airways.

To view a short video clip of the new chairman, please click on the following link: https://bit.ly/2xPxQzB, and for more information on SOTIC, visit www.sotic.onecaribbean.org.

About the Bahamas

The Islands of the Bahamas have a place in the sun for everyone. Each island has its own personality and attractions for a variety of vacation styles with some of the world’s best scuba diving, fishing, sailing, boating, as well as, shopping and dining. The destination offers an easily accessible tropical getaway and provides convenience for travelers with preclearance through U.S. customs and immigration, and the Bahamian dollar is on par with the U.S. dollar. Do everything or do nothing, just remember It’s Better in The Bahamas. For more information call 1-800-Bahamas or visit www.Bahamas.com. Look for The Bahamas on the web on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Corporate News, SOTIC

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Immersive Technology-driven Experience Slated for SOTIC

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (11 Sept. 2018) – The opening day of the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) centres on the “Recreate” theme with discussions focused on innovation, business development and building better. The conversation will transcend physical infrastructure to examine an entire immersive experience that is driven by technology among other factors.

“The Caribbean must examine and utilize new technologies designed to upgrade and enhance the region’s tourism product in order to be competitive on a global scale,” said Sylma Brown, the head of the CTO’s New York office, which oversees the conference. “The first day of the State of the Tourism Industry Conference will challenge previous notions with innovative ideas for redesigning business operations and infrastructure to optimize the guest experience within each destination, resort, guesthouse, attraction and cultural event,” she added.

Scheduled for 2-5 Oct. 2018 at Atlantis, Paradise Island in The Bahamas, general SOTIC sessions start on 3 Oct. and will be anchored by Puerto Rico-born Santana Rodriguez, television producer and former news personality at Crown City News in Pasadena who also served as entertainment host and morning news reporter at KLEO Television in Hollywood, California.

The first general session, “Building Better,” aims to guide the development of regional infrastructure and product evolution while influencing the enhancement of the Caribbean’s unmistakably infectious brand. There will be a sharp focus on the critical priority areas that are necessary to build better, including financing, design and execution, and best practices that take into consideration the practical realities of physical infrastructure.

Panellists include Hugh Riley, the CTO’s secretary general; Tom Hook, the North American director of planning and landscape at B+H Architects; General Russel Honore, a retired U.S. military officer who led the department of defense response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana; and Jena Tesse Fox, a writer and editor for Questex Media’s Hotel Management and Hotel Design magazines.

Moderated by Dr. Deborah Hickling-Gordon, Principal Consultant, Ink and Vision, Ltd., the second general session, “Commoditization Without Exploitation,” will examine the critical factors which catalyze the misuse and overuse of the Caribbean’s intrinsic resources for tourist consumption, as well as explore feasible opportunities to maximize the Caribbean’s marine, cultural and heritage treasures to enhance the tourism product without exploiting the region’s inherent wealth. The panel will feature Gregory Bethel, senior economist at the department of marine resources of The Bahamas; Dr. Marcia Burrowes, lecturer in cultural studies at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill campus; and Senator Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson, president of the Caribbean Congress of Labour.

A general session on “Modernizing the Experience: Using Technology to Enhance the Visitor Experience” will analyze how rapidly developing technology is forcing every sector of the industry to shift their approach and define their own experience utilizing mobile technologies and virtual reality to set themselves apart. From airports becoming more memorable and enjoyable with facilities to shop without checkout systems to hotels adopting customer-centric models, this session will feature some of the best examples of how governments and brands are using technology to move beyond the ordinary.

Travel industry veteran Noreen Henry, who has over 25 years leveraging innovative technologies and who served as chief executive officer of WayBlazer, an artificial intelligence travel technology start-up, is a speaker on the panel. She will be joined by Kristie Powell, a former senior technical advisor at Google and the co-founder and chief executive Founder, Coral, a software development startup transforming the B2B market in the Caribbean; and Ed Limon, a Toronto-based filmmaker, producer and virtual reality expert.

Caribbean tourism practitioners, policymakers, travel professionals and strategic partners from the public and private sectors throughout the region and internationally participate each year in SOTIC, organized this year by the CTO in collaboration with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. The conference will be preceded by business meetings on 1 – 2 Oct.

Sponsorship opportunities and details are available from CTO at 212-635-9530 or via http://sotic.onecaribbean.org/sponsor.

For further details on the conference, including how to register, please visit http://sotic.onecaribbean.org/.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, SOTIC

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TV Host and Wellness Enthusiast Santana Rodriguez to Anchor SOTIC 2018

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (13 Aug. 2018) – A California-based television presenter turned wellness enthusiast with strong ties to the Caribbean will host this year’s State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) in the Bahamas.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has confirmed Santana Rodriguez, the former weather personality and news reporter at Crown City News in Pasadena, and former entertainment host and morning news reporter at KLEO Television in Hollywood, California, as anchor for the 2-5 October conference, being organized in collaboration with the Bahamas ministry of tourism.

Rodriguez, who was born in Puerto Rico to a Puerto Rican father and Brazilian mother before moving to the United States at two months old, also worked as an on-air television host and segment producer for the television show, NYC Profiles, on Bloomberg local television in New York.

“As the daughter of a Puerto Rican father I am proud of my Caribbean heritage, and I am humbled, yet honoured and excited to host the Caribbean’s most important tourism event. I encourage everyone with a remote interest in Caribbean tourism or the region as a whole to register and attend the State of the Tourism Industry Conference,” Rodriguez said.

As a fitness and wellness enthusiast, the former fitness champion and magazine print model is the producer and presenter of her own show, Shaping Up With Santana, which first ran in Los Angeles, and is set to air on the South Florida lifestyle network, the Beach Channel, from 17 October, and will be streamed ‘live’ on its website, www.thebeachchannel.tv.

Rodriguez has degrees in fashion merchandising and business administration, and is a former commercial and theatre actress in Los Angeles.

Themed, Rejuvenate, Recreate, Reconnect – New Directions for Caribbean Tourism, this year’s SOTIC at Atlantis, Paradise Island brings together tourism practitioners, policymakers and strategic partners, at the highest levels, along with speakers of international acclaim who will provide best case practices and winning strategies on a wide range of topics that are critical to the growth of regional tourism.

Youth from several CTO member countries will make their contributions to the discussions at a Youth Congress, one of the vehicles through which the CTO encourages the best and brightest to consider tourism as a career.

Sponsorship opportunities and details are available from CTO USA 212-635-9530 or via http://sotic.onecaribbean.org/sponsor.

For further details on the conference, including how to register, please visit http://sotic.onecaribbean.org/.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, SOTIC

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New Directions for Caribbean Tourism at SOTIC 2018

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (25 July 2018) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is examining new strategies to stimulate growth in the region’s tourism industry at this year’s State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) themed Rejuvenate, Recreate, Reconnect – New Directions for Caribbean Tourism.

Scheduled 2-5 Oct. 2018 at Atlantis, Paradise Island in The Bahamas, SOTIC 2018 will consider ways to build a tourism industry that is resilient and able to adapt to changing trends, demands and situations.

“Globally, the tourism industry is constantly evolving. At the Caribbean Tourism Organization, we must be in the forefront of anticipating and managing the changes that affect our region – extreme climate phenomena, political and economic realities at home and abroad, and the rapid rise in technological developments,” said Hugh Riley, secretary general and CEO of CTO.

“In order to continue to grow our tourism in a way that is sustainable and beneficial to our communities, we must be open to new thinking, which often means breaking out of traditional comfort zones. SOTIC 2018 is intended to inspire action to develop innovative concepts, tools and models, and implement strategies that recognise the changing demands of international travellers. Exceeding the expectations of increasingly knowledgeable consumers is a challenge the Caribbean must always be prepared to meet,” Riley added.

The SOTIC theme ties in CTO’s declaration of 2018 as the “Caribbean Year of Rejuvenation and Wellness,” with multifaceted themes for each of the three conference days:

  • Day one is centered on “Recreate” with discussions focused on innovation, business development and building better, not just the physical infrastructure, but an entire immersive experience that is driven by technology.
  • The second day will delve into “Rejuvenation,” featuring a blend of creative ideas and cutting edge thinking on what can be done to add vitality, energy and freshness into the Caribbean tourism product. Discussions will also focus on efforts by regional carriers to make travelling through the region less challenging and enhance the visitor experience.
  • Emphasis on day three will be on “Reconnecting,” where participants will explore ways to distinguish the Caribbean tourism product by incorporating the region’s unique cultural hybridism and endemic wellness customs into programmes.

Throughout the three-day event, delegates will address visitors’ desire for new experiences, while being conscious of the impact they have on the communities they visit.

Caribbean tourism practitioners, policymakers, travel professionals and strategic partners from the public and private sectors throughout the region and internationally participate each year in SOTIC.

SOTIC is being organised by the CTO in collaboration with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. The conference will be preceded by business meetings on 1 – 2 Oct. 2018.

Sponsorship opportunities and details are available from CTO USA 212-635-9530 or via http://sotic.onecaribbean.org/sponsor.

For further details on the conference, including how to register, please visit http://sotic.onecaribbean.org/.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, SOTIC

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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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