Caribbean Tourism Industry Remains Hopeful of Gradual Rebound

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (13 Jan., 2022) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) remains positive about the continued rebound of the tourism industry even in the face of the uncertainty caused by the ongoing pandemic.

Over the past eighteen months, Caribbean destinations, without exception, have shown their resilience in creating strategies for recovery, incorporating frequently updated travel protocols, and collaborations with regional and international partners in the areas of health and economic support and development. Recovery in each instance, has taken place while ensuring the health and safety of residents and visitors alike.

The year 2021 has given us an indication that there is light at the end of what has been a long tunnel which began in March 2020. By mid-2021, we saw a turnaround in tourism activity, with the Caribbean exceeding the global average for stayover arrival growth and tourism’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP).  During the third quarter of 2021, there were 5.4 million tourist arrivals to the region, almost three times the arrivals for the same period in 2020, but still 23.3 per cent below 2019 levels. Preliminary reports suggest that this progress continued through to the end of the last quarter. Consequently, it is estimated that tourist arrivals for 2021 will exceed 2020 levels by 60 to 70 per cent.

As we begin 2022, once again grappling with the effects of a new variant which is also affecting international travel adversely, we are heartened by the recovery experiences and the lessons learnt in 2021.

These experiences and lessons have taught us that travel and hospitality can co-exist with the pandemic affecting both our destinations and markets. While the results to date have not indicated a return to 2019 levels, the exceptional results recorded in the summer to year-end period of 2021 show that a scaled or gradual rebound is likely and very possible by the end of 2022.

Recovery strategies, continuously being adapted to existing circumstances, based on continued partnerships and collaboration, advocating for safe and healthy visitor experiences and prioritising the health of residents, have proven to be the formula for recovery of the sector.

The year 2022 is being observed as the year of wellness in the Caribbean, with a focus on renewal. Given the Caribbean’s unique diversity, destination by destination, visitors to our shores will discover endless options to be rejuvenated in the region. Similarly, we encourage Caribbean nationals to explore and rediscover the diversity within their own destinations and those around them.

Even as we work on our short-term strategies for recovery of the sector, we urge longer term approaches to promote sectoral sustainability. Building on our 2021 World Tourism Day message, we encourage moving towards social inclusion and creating smart destinations based on smart businesses as key planks which will lead to sustainability. Our human resources, which are our key assets, are critical to the success of the sector. During 2022, the CTO hopes to build on a regional study of human resources to maintain the excellence of our hospitality.

Clearly there is a demand for the region’s tourism product, as shown by our ability to outpace the global growth average for arrivals. It is our responsibility to ensure that we continue to position the region to meet this demand in new and refreshed ways.

Let us continue to rebuild together.###

Posted in: 2022 News, Blog

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Belize Tourism Board Announces New Safe Travel Requirements

In an effort to further protect the health and wellbeing of international visitors and Belizeans from COVID-19, Belize Tourism Board (BTB), the official tourism organization for Belize, has released new safe travel standards for any persons entering the country. Effective Feb. 15, 2022, all visitors are required to apply for Belize Travel Health Insurance – a mandatory insurance that helps protect travelers against incurred medical and non-medical expenses, if they test positive for COVID-19 during their stay in Belize.

The cost of the policy is $18 USD and provides coverage for up to $50,000 USD in medical expenses related to treatment of COVID-19 for a period of 21 days. This insurance plan will come online under the country’s public health regulations and provide cover for lodging expenses due to quarantine up to $2,000 USD (max $300/day USD). Travelers will also be covered for emergency assistance services such as air evacuation and emergency expenses related to pre-existing conditions. Furthermore, it covers trip cancellations and expenses incurred by COVID-19 positive travelers for extended stays.

Some important entry highlights are listed below:

  • It is recommended that travelers purchase the Belize Travel Health Insurance prior to their travel to Belize. However, purchases can be made upon arrival at the Philip Goldson International Airport or at Belize’s land borders.
  • Visitors must purchase Belize Travel Health Insurance and are required to complete the Customs and Immigration form that is provided on all flights to Belize.
  • Exempted from this mandatory insurance are Belizean nationals, permanent residents and travelers with QRP or Long Stay status and flight crews.
  • All international tourists must book their stay in Belize at a Gold Standard property (approved hotel or accommodation) and present confirmation at immigration.
  • All travelers, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, entering Belize through the Philip Goldson International Airport from other countries, will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test.
  • If no test is presented, a COVID-19 test will be administered at the airport for a fee of USD $50 per passenger. Children under the age of 5 years will not be required to present a negative test.

In the past year, Belize has implemented several traveler protocols to keep visitors feeling safe, including the Tourism Gold Standard Program and Travel Belize app, which enables travelers to seamlessly plan their vacation with certified hotels and tour operators (an entry requirement). The new Travel Health Insurance mandate underscores Belize’s commitment to health and safety, enhancing travel confidence and giving visitors peace of mind to schedule that well-deserved vacation for 2022 and beyond.

About Belize Tourism Board
The Belize Tourism Board (BTB) is a statutory body within the Belize Ministry of Tourism and Diaspora Relations, and it is governed by a Board of Directors appointed by the Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations. The BTB works in conjunction with members of the private sector – including the Belize Hotel Association, Belize Tourism Industry Association and Belize National Tour Operators Association – and is dedicated to building tourism in the most economically and environmentally sustainable manner. As a part of its responsibilities, the BTB promotes Belize as a premier tourism destination to both in-country and international consumers. Among its outreach to the international travel market, the BTB markets the country’s unique attractions to travelers, members of the travel trade industry and media outlets in key markets. The BTB is also dedicated to developing and implementing tourism programs that will help strengthen and grow the Belizean tourism industry; promote good destination stewardship; and instill high quality standards for accommodations and travel experiences. For more information on the BTB and its services, visit www.travelbelize.org.

Posted in: 2021 News, Destination News

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Bahamas Ministry of Tourism Tribute to Sir Sidney L. Poitier KBE

The Honourable I. Chester Cooper, Deputy Prime Minister of The Bahamas and Minister of Tourism, Investments & Aviation, along with members of the Ministry’s Senior Executive Management Team and Staff, with deepest sadness, mark the passing of a great Bahamian and global legend, Sir Sidney L. Poitier.

From humble beginnings on Cat Island, Sidney Poitier, a proud young Bahamian embarked on a remarkable life journey on which he blazed trails, shattered glass ceilings and made a resounding global impact.

Grounded in an ethos of discipline and excellence, in 1964, Sir Sidney’s achieved the distinction of being the first black actor to be awarded an Oscar for best actor, for his lead role in the film Lilies of the Field. Sir Sidney went on to enjoy a brilliant acting career with numerous box office successes including iconic films such as The Heat Of The Night; To Sir, With Love; and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner.

To all his fields of endeavour — acting, film directing, activism, diplomacy, philanthropy — Sir Sidney brought a singularly outstanding level of professionalism, which earned him the highest civic awards, both in the Commonwealth of Nations (Knight of the British Empire – KBE in 1974), as a Bahamian citizen, and in the United States (the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009).

On a global scale, Sir Sidney embodied greatness. Through his cinematic roles, he challenged stereotypes, modelled the highest attributes of human dignity and universally typified the individual who, through sheer human resolve and determination, overcomes challenges imposed by the larger society.

Sir Sidney, by the measure of his bearing, belonged to the world. Yet, at his most authentic self, Sir Sidney was a Bahamian, and of that fact, the People of The Commonwealth of The Bahamas will be eternally most proud.

We convey our deepest condolences to the bereaved family of Sir Sidney, his wife, Joanna Shimkus and children: Beverly Poitier-Henderson, Pamela Poitier, Sherri Poitier, Gina Poitier-Gouraige, Anika Poitier, and Sydney Tamiia Poitier-Heartsong.

Earth Has No Sorrow that Heaven Cannot Heal.

Our prayers and thoughts are with the bereaved family of Sir Sidney.

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Bahamas Tourism Ministry Updates Testing Protocols

NASSAU, Bahamas, 4 January 2022 – The Bahamas has suspended the mandatory RT-PCR testing requirement for vaccinated travellers, which was expected to take effect on 7 January 2022.  Vaccinated persons, as well as children ages 2-11, may continue to present either a negative Rapid Antigen Test or negative RT-PCR Test.

In addition, effective 4 January 2022, all persons remaining in The Bahamas for longer than 48 hours will be required to undergo a Rapid Antigen Test, regardless of vaccination status.

Details of the protocol changes are as follows:

  • All those travelling to The Bahamas from other countries, whether fully vaccinated or unvaccinated, will be required to obtain a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than three days (72 hours) prior to the date of arrival in The Bahamas.
    • Vaccinated travellers and children between the ages of 2- 11, can present either a negative Rapid Antigen Test or RT-PCR Test.
    • All unvaccinated travellers, ages 12 and older, must present a negative RT-PCR Test (acceptable tests include NAAT, PCR, RNA, RT-PCR and TMA).
    • All children under the age of two are exempt from any testing requirements.
  • 48 Hour COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test: Effective 4 January 2022, a Rapid Antigen Test will be required for all travellers staying in The Bahamas longer than 48 hours (two (2) nights), regardless of vaccination status.

For full details, please visit Bahamas.com/travelupdates.

Posted in: 2022 News, Blog, Coronavirus (COVID-19), Destination News

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St. Kitts Tourism Authority Appoints New CEO

Basseterre, St. Kitts (January 4, 2022) – Today, the St. Kitts Tourism Authority announces the appointment of Ellison “Tommy” Thompson as CEO. In this role, Thompson will lead international marketing efforts for the destination, with a focus on trade and airline relationships; earned, paid and owned media; partnerships; and stakeholder communication. Thompson will focus on leisure and cruise, two perennially high performing areas for tourism to St. Kitts. He will also prioritize the romance and MICE markets, with the goal of increasing tourism’s economic benefits across the island. Thompson begins work on January 10, 2022.

“Mr. Thompson brings more than three decades of Caribbean tourism sales and marketing experience, including a deep knowledge of marketing Bahamas’ outer islands,” said Nick Menon, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority. “He has proven success increasing leisure travel, expanding key industry relationships, and implementing creative global marketing campaigns. We are thrilled to have his expertise at the helm of the Tourism Authority.”

“Tommy Thompson’s experience working with tourism ministries and destination marketing entities make him the premier choice to lead the St. Kitts Tourism Authority,” added Lindsay F.P. Grant, Minister of Tourism, Transport and Ports. “We are confident that under his leadership, we will continue driving high demand for the destination among air and cruise passengers as part of tourism’s continuous rebound.”

Thompson will utilize a data-driven approach to assess St. Kitts’ primary audiences and their behaviors. His initial intentions also include working closely with travel agents and tour operators, and partnering with airlines to increase passenger load and service to the destination.

“St. Kitts is an emerging destination with tremendous potential to excite travelers from around the world,” Thompson said. “I am looking forward to developing and implementing creative strategies that will increase St. Kitts’ visibility in our key source markets, put St. Kitts into the consideration set for travelers, and ultimately drive bookings.”

Most recently, Mr. Thompson served as Deputy Director General of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. In this role, he developed global marketing strategies for the Ministry, with a focus on the Family Islands, Grand Bahama Island, and niche market promotions. He also led the sales teams in the United States, Canada and Europe as well as Asia and Latin America, and oversaw campaigns targeting consumers, tour operators and wholesalers, travel agents and airlines. Mr. Thompson has also held a number of other positions for both The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and The Bahamas Tourist Offices in the UK. He has additional experience managing visitor relations, cruise development, product development, and sales representation.

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