CTO News
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Message from New CTO Chairman, the Hon. Harold Lovell,
Minister of Tourism, Antigua & Barbuda

Harold LovellThe holiday season is upon us and offers an appropriate time to pause and reflect on our many blessings as well as give thought to what lies ahead in the future. As we navigate the hustle and bustle of this season, I encourage all of us to recognize that we have so much for which to be thankful in the Caribbean. 

We continue to live in the most purely beautiful region on Earth and count amongst our citizens some of the most welcoming and talented people in the world. It is the Caribbean people who provide the strength and fortitude to thrive in both good times and times of struggle.

Today, we face a struggling global economy—one that, of course, has a ripple effect on all who live, work and play in the Caribbean. And yet, I’m happy to say, interest in, and passion for the Caribbean remains high. And that is indeed both a blessing and a gift.

As we move toward 2009 we see positive signs for the industry. We are particularly pleased to note the investment that our airline partners are making in the Caribbean. Low fare carriers have added seats and new services for the winter season and our legacy carriers have either added new flights in select markets or in most cases re-committed their existing services. Cruising, which is another essential element of Caribbean tourism, continues to show increases in the number of itineraries that include Caribbean ports.

We know, however, that in these challenging economic times, the Caribbean tourism industry will need to provide an even greater commitment to a consistently high quality vacation experience. There has never been a more important time for the Caribbean to work closely with our partners and push hard to support global tourism as a whole. Of all the gifts we give and receive this holiday season, the gift of support and partnership may be the most important for the tourism industry.

From the CTO’s standpoint, we are working with all our destination partners to find new ways to enhance our value and aggressively promote our considerable competitive advantages. Caribbean tourism, like the Caribbean people, is resilient and strong. So while there is no doubt that challenges lie ahead, there are none that are insurmountable if we continue to work together and remember one very important fact: now, more than ever, Life Needs the Caribbean!

It is our hope, from all of us here at the CTO, that you enjoy a very blessed, healthy, and happy holiday season. We wish you all a prosperous New Year and look forward to working, supporting and partnering with you in the year ahead.

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Planning Underway for Caribbean Week’s Return to NY

New York DanceAfter a one-year hiatus, planning is underway for Caribbean Week’s return to New York City. The popular annual event that brings a taste of the region’s lifestyle, culture and flair to the northeast is expected to take place during the second week of June. An official announcement on the date and programming for Caribbean Week will come in January.

Immediately following Caribbean Week in New York, delegates from the region will travel to Washington, D.C. for the Second Annual Caribbean Tourism Summit (ACTS). This event will be business-focused and include meetings on Capitol Hill as well as internal meetings with CTO and CHTA officials.

For more information on Caribbean Week New York or ACTS, call the CTO’s NY office at 212-635-9530.

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Caribbean Regional Marketing Program Takes Shape

St. LuciaThe governments of the Caribbean continue to make progress toward establishing a regional marketing program in 2009. Ministers of Tourism met in Trinidad during the CTO’s Annual General Meeting, October 25-27, to discuss a formula for raising funds that would allow the creation of a program that is adequately funded on a sustainable basis. The overall target is $60m. Ministers from CARICOM countries have settled on a formula which is now being considered by CTO’s non-CARICOM member countries.

Once agreement is reached among the various stakeholders, the Caribbean Tourism Development Company (CTDC, which is jointly owned by the CTO and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association) will contract agencies and institute systems to execute, manage and evaluate the progress of the program.

The next stage of the discussions will begin shortly, in anticipation of more formal meetings that are scheduled to take place during Caribbean Marketplace in St. Lucia in January.

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Luther Miller Retires from CTO After 30 Years of Service

Luther MillerAfter managing the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO)’s finances for almost 30 years, Luther Miller, the Director of Finance and Resource Management, is leaving the organization. Mr. Miller will retire officially from the CTO in 2009, but went on pre-retirement leave as of Monday 15 December.

“Working at, and for CTO has allowed me the opportunity of meeting some of the most wonderful people who all have a single goal, that of furthering the development of the Caribbean tourism industry for the benefit of the peoples of the region,” the retiring Miller said.

In addition to the organization’s finances, Mr. Miller was also instrumental in designing and crafting a number of technical and administrative programmes for the benefit of CTO member countries. He has also been called upon to speak on a wide range of tourism matters.

According to the Hon. Harold Lovell, the Minister of Tourism for Antigua & Barbuda, and the Chairman of the CTO Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism, “Luther weaved his magic and found resources where there seemed to be none, and sufficient resources where there was little to keep the work of the CTO going. We wish him a happy retirement.”

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On the Road Again: CTO Globe Treks to Promote the Region

BrazilThe CTO has been on the road helping sell the region at two key recent industry shows. For the first year ever, the CTO participated in the Fair of the Americas, the largest travel trade exhibition in Latin America. Taking place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from October 22-24, 2008, the aim was to broaden the Caribbean’s presence in Latin America, a market identified by both the public and private sector as a growing source tourism market. The successful event attracted thousands of travel trade professionals.

The CTO also staged its annual European Marketing Forum at World Travel Market (WTM) on November 9 in London. The Forum gave Caribbean delegates to WTM—including ministers, commissioners and directors of tourism, as well as private sector representatives—an opportunity to hear top industry speakers talk about key issues which will affect how the Caribbean can compete in what is projected to be an extremely difficult marketplace next year.

For more information about the results of the CTO’s participation in the Fair of the Americas or World Travel Market, or to learn more about other upcoming trade show opportunities, e-mail Ronald Allen at
[email protected].

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Caribbean Beach Volleyball Tournament Winners Dive into the DR

VolleyballBump, Set, Spike! The second annual Caribbean Beach Volleyball Tournament culminated in the Championship series, held November 8-9, 2008 in the Dominican Republic. Qualifying tournaments were held up and down the East Coast to decide the top-ranking teams who competed in the Puerto Plata Championships. First place winners from the Men’s Division were Mike DiPierro of Pompano Beach, FL and Adam Roberts of Myrtle Beach, SC. The winners of the Women’s Division were Megan Wallin and Kristen Batt of Sarasota, FL. The tournament was expertly organized by New York-based East End Volleyball in conjunction with the Caribbean Tourism Development Company. Resulting media coverage included a feature on New York’s CW11-Tv news.

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Condé Nast Bridal Media Helps Caribbean “Sparkle in Sand”

Wedding CoupleCondé Nast Bridal Media’s popular Caribbean partnership completed its second leg in 2008 following the “Passport to the Caribbean” promotion which concluded earlier this year. Over 400 entries were collected from engaged couples who wrote into Conde Nast explaining why their love was special as part of the “Sparkle in Sand” promotion. The ultimate winning couple, Ellen Weniger and Michael DiMola of Hicksville, NY, was chosen during the Caribbean Beach Volleyball Championship in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic on Sunday, November 9, 2008.

The top three couples who entered had the opportunity to dig up the grand prize, a $5,000 diamond wedding band. The winning couple was also awarded an all-expenses-paid romantic getaway to Puerto Plata and a stay at Casa Colonial, a luxury boutique hotel and one of Conde Nast Traveler’s “Hot List” picks.

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Winners Announced in Conde Nast Traveler and Travel + Leisure Magazine Contests

Storm HalbaichTen-year-old Storm Halbaich from St. Vincent & The Grenadines was the winner of the 16th annual Conde Nast Traveler “My Caribbean” Essay Contest. Storm received a $2,000 scholarship and the winning essay will be featured in the January “Gold List” issue of the magazine.

Jesdma NoelJesdma Noel, a student of the Westmoreland Secondary School in St. George’s, Grenada, was the winning “Junior Minister of Tourism” at the annual CTO/Travel + Leisure Tourism Youth Congress. Noel won $500 and a new laptop computer, while her school will also receive $1,000. The event was sponsored by Travel + Leisure with support from the Naismith Basketball Foundation and Air Jamaica.

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