CTO News

Boutique Hotel in St Vincent and the Grenadines Receives International Service Excellence Certification

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (1 July 2019) – A boutique hotel in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has become the latest in the Caribbean to be Hospitality Assured (HA) certified, an international certification programme for service excellence.

“Hotel Alexandrina is extremely proud to be part of the Hospitality Assured family. The self-evaluation of our company to see where we are, and the steps taken to improve our operation was extremely effective,” said Ruth Stevens, managing director of Hotel Alexandrina, one of the host hotels for the upcoming Sustainable Tourism Conference scheduled for St. Vincent and the Grenadines from 26-29 August.

The HA certification is owned by the Institute of Hospitality and managed by Hospitality Limited based in the United Kingdom.  It was developed specifically for the tourism sector, to promote and reward the highest levels of service and business excellence. The programme is managed in the Caribbean by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).

The programme consists of nine key areas and 44 criteria that must be addressed to gain the Hospitality Assured certification. The key areas focus on: Customer Research, The Customer Service Promise, Business Leadership & Planning, Operational Planning & Standards of Performance, Resources (people, equipment, facilities), Training and Development, Service Delivery, Service Recovery and Customer Satisfaction Improvement.

Stevens said the steps to certification helped the hotel become more focused on customer satisfaction. “The exercises set forth in the programme helped us to recognise that customer satisfaction is the best indicator of our company’s performance and that our primary focus must be on our customer service promise.”

The CTO views the project as critical in helping to strengthen the business performance and overall competitiveness of tourism enterprises in the Caribbean by promoting a culture of quality, service excellence and continuous improvement through the use of an internationally recognised  business improvement tool and framework.

Stevens said there are real rewards from the programme. “Now, our business is operating at a higher level understanding of the importance of customer expectations and satisfaction and already receiving accolades and reaping the financial benefits because of our improved standards,” she said.

In recent months several businesses have become HA certified after completing a rigorous qualifying process. These include Alicia’s Inn and Baker’s Suites in St. Maarten – both of which were part of a pilot HA programme sponsored by the European Union’s Competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises programme – and Ocean Terrace Inn in St. Kitts.

The CTO intends to grow the programme and to work with its members and its private sector partners to raise awareness about the benefits of this service quality management programme and to encourage the participation of the tourism and hospitality sector.

There are over 90 companies signed on to the programme with a service quality management system in place to strengthen their service delivery and overall business performance. Other Caribbean companies approved in recent months include Holiday Taxi Limited in Saint Lucia; Grand Coastal Inn and Old Fort Tours in Guyana; and Sunbreeze Hotel in Belize.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Destination News

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Antigua and Barbuda Offers Cool Summer Savings on Destination Experiences

JOHN’S, ANTIGUA (July 09, 2019) – The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority’s new #WhatCoolLooksLike summer promotion allows travellers to Antigua and Barbuda to benefit from exceptional savings on some of the destination’s top accommodations, excursions, restaurants and attractions, when they visit Antigua and Barbuda this summer.

Visitors are invited to take advantage of these cool and exciting summer experiences on offer in Antigua and Barbuda, during the campaign period from May 1 – October 31, 2019:

Catherine’s Café Summer Special

Located on the stunning Pigeon Point beach, Catherine’s Café offers classical French cuisine with province style influences and local ingredients. Enjoy a three-course dinner and a glass of wine for only US$38, all summer long at Catherine’s café. For more information contact: (268)-460-5050 or go to www.catherines-cafe.com

Sheer Rocks Summer Special

Poised artfully on the edge of a remarkable sunset facing bluff and terraced in a Cliffside, protruding over the rocks of Ffryes Bay, Sheer Rocks is one of the most beautiful and must-visit dining spots and experiences in Antigua. The restaurant located within Coco Bay, will have you in a swoon over the shimmering sea views and flavourful, thoughtfully executed food and top-notch cocktails.  Pay only US$48 for a jug of sangria and four tapas dishes. For more information go to: www.sheer-rocks.com

Antigua Rainforest Canopy Tour

“Experience the thrill of zipping through the rainforest”. An exhilarating tour for everyone and their family, while visiting our beautiful island of Antigua.  The Antigua Rainforest Canopy tour is offering a summer cool special for the full course or the 12+1 course, with adults paying EC$100 and children EC$50 for either tour. For more information go to:  www.antiguarainforest.com

Antigua VIP Tour Summer Discount

Offering highly personalized luxury land-based tours in a comfortable air-conditioned environment on the beautiful island of Antigua. Save 10% on any of the platinum tours, gold tours and silver tours this summer. For more information go to: antiguavipsafaritours.vpweb.com

Horseback Riding With Rendezvous Antigua

This relaxing and scenic horseback ride allows you to explore beautiful beaches and Antigua’s historic past.  You will view the Caribbean Sea and feel its breeze as you make your way across land and beach to historic Fort James built in 1739. A return ride along the Caribbean white sand beaches brings you back to Runaway Beach, over ¾ miles of white sand beach fringed with coconut trees and clear Caribbean Sea.  Offering adults, a price of EC$130 and children EC$100. For more information call Rendezvous Antigua at (268)480-1007 or (268) 480-1008.

Segway Tour Summer Special With Rendezvous Antigua

Explore Antigua’s historic Fort James and beaches using the Segway PT. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to maneuver this phenomenon of motion as it carries you through to the 17th century-built fort where a spectacular sight of the Caribbean Sea awaits. After conquering the fort, embark on an adventure cruising by beach parks, fruit trees and miles of beach on your zero emission Segway as knowledgeable and fun guides fill you in on interesting facts about the area. Pay a rate of only EC$100.  For more information call Rendezvous Antigua at (268)480-1007 or (268) 480-1008.

Walking Tour Of St. John’s City With Rendezvous Antigua

Gently sloping to the sea, St. John’s City gives a strong sense of old-world charm and elegance. The walking tour complete with a Whisper radio system encompasses historical buildings, churches, monuments, private residences and shops boasting West Indian Vernacular styles of architecture. Be a part of the buzz as you explore the bustling fruit and fish markets and then make a final stop at the Museum of Antigua and Barbuda. The summer promotion offers adults and children, a price of EC$50. For more information call Rendezvous Antigua at (268)480-1007 or (268) 480-1008.

Adventurous Hike Summer Special

A unique way of meeting your adventurous expectations! Take advantage of Adventurous Hikes’ summer promotion with 15% discount on any of their 3 hikes, whether it is the iconic Pillars of Hercules, Antigua’s highest point, Mount Obama, or the scenic Hawksbill beach for the low price of US$65 for any 3 trails. For more information call (268) 771-6282 or (268) 764-2448 or go to: www.adventuroushikes.com

Best of Books Summer Holiday Special

The Best of Bookstore is offering 20% off two of Joanne C. Hillhouse’s books this summer, while stocks last! You can find Musical Youth for vacationing adults and young adults. Also find “Lost” a Caribbean Sea adventure/ “Perdida” una aventura en el mal Caribe (Spanish Ed.)-for bedtime with your little one.  For more information email: [email protected] or visit: www.facebook.com/bestbooksanu

Admiral’s Inn Summer Special

The Admiral’s Inn and Gunpowder Suites, a boutique hotel with historic charm, casual elegance and friendly, personal service, located at Nelson’s Dockyard, English Harbour offers saving when you stay at the Inn this summer, with room rates as low as US$145 for 7 nights in the Standard Harbour view room. For more information and other room rates go to: www.admiralsinnantigua.com

Keyonna Beach Summer Deals

Situated on the beautiful Turner’s beach on the south-western coast of the island, Keyonna Beach, is a couples only all-inclusive Antigua resort unlike any other. This quaint boutique hotel offers a beach-front location with sweeping views of the colourful Caribbean Sea.  Save 20% on couple’s massages & private beach dinners. For more information go to: www.keyonnabeachresortantigua.com

Barbuda Rentals

Barbuda Rentals offers an exclusive line-up of island vehicle rentals for your stay in Barbuda! Offering summer cool daily rates of US$60 per day. For more information call (268) 721-9333, go to: www.barbudarentals.com  or visit them on their Facebook page: Barbuda Rentals as well as Instagram: @BarbudaRentals.

Find more amazing #WhatCoolLooksLike summer offers on: www.visitantiguabarbuda.com

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Destination News

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St. Kitts Celebrates Mid-Week Air Canada Flights with “Taste of St. Kitts” Culinary Event

Basseterre, St. Kitts (July 4, 2019) – Cirillo’s Culinary Academy in Toronto was the site for St. Kitts’ celebration of the expanded mid-week service from Air Canada with their second annual “Taste of St. Kitts” culinary event. Highlighting the increased airlift and reinforcing that the dining scene in St. Kitts is an experience not to be missed, the interactive cooking event had agents creating recipes from popular Kittitian restaurants.

Racquel Brown, CEO of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, remarked, “Leveraging our culinary experience, we are cultivating a higher profile to engage with more visitors to St. Kitts, especially this winter with our additional Air Canada Tuesday flight. The second annual “Taste of St. Kitts” provided the perfect platform to showcase our diverse cuisine as we launched our celebration of new service from Toronto!  The additional flying is part of the destination’s specific strategy to further develop its tourism industry by building airlift from select gateways with valued airline and industry partners to support its expanding hotel product.”

Hosting the event was Paul Minich, Market Consultant for the St. Kitts Tourism Authority in Canada. In his presentation he noted, “We are thrilled! There is strong growth from Canada and this expansion of service is very important to the destination. Our product appeals to the discriminating traveler looking for a more experiential vacation and the quality and diversity of our culinary product is certainly a key component of the St. Kitts & Nevis vacation experience.”

From February 11 through April 14, 2020, Air Canada will operate the flight utilizing a 136-seat Airbus A-319 with 12 Premium Rouge and 124 Economy class seats as follows:

Flight Depart Arrive
AC 1730 YYZ 11:20 am SKB 5:05 pm
AC 1731 SKB 5:55 pm YYZ 10:05 pm

Note: Flights are listed in local time and schedules are subject to change.  

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Destination News

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Tobago Tourism Agency hosts press trip with award-winning Irish travel writer

SCARBOROUGH Tobago, Friday July 05, 2019: The Tobago Tourism Agency Limited (TTAL) hosted an award-winning travel-journalist from Ireland for a fast-paced press trip from June 11 to 18 2019, in ongoing marketing efforts to promote unspoilt, untouched, undiscovered Tobago in the Irish market.

Press trips, also known as media familiarization trips, are effective ways for travel journalists to become familiar with the product offering of a destination, in order to effectively and compellingly write about their experiences and persuade potential visitors to book.

The Irish press was specifically targeted for this trip as the Irish market is a potentially rich source of business. Its steadily growing rate of outbound travel over the past few years has reached a rate of approximately 1.73 annual overseas trips per head, as opposed to the UK market’s 1.1 annual overseas trips per head.

Additionally, Ireland is an ideal target for visitor arrivals, as based on information from travel agents and operators serving that region, the Irish tourist is well accustomed to travelling to the UK- specifically Manchester- for connecting flights. This augers well for travel to Tobago as Manchester Airport offers direct airlift to the island.

Dublin-based travel-journalist and content creator Mr. Tadgh Peavoy is a prolific writer for many of Ireland’s national and online publications, and is also a lecturer in journalism in Dublin, Ireland. He has been commissioned by the Irish Daily Star – the 4th biggest news outlet in Ireland – to write a double-page feature on Tobago for their travel section. Mr. Peavoy is also writing an online feature on Tobago for Buzz.ie, the online version of the Irish Daily Star, which achieves around 1 million users a month.

In order to fully capitalize on the opportunity presented by this international press coverage for Tobago, the Agency curated an itinerary for the Irish journalist designed to showcase a variety of Tobago’s natural assets, activities, culinary and cultural experiences, which will then be translated into immersive travel articles for an Irish audience.

Speaking about his week-long experience in Tobago, which was his first time in the Caribbean, Mr. Peavoy enthused about not only the remarkable physical attributes of the island, but also about the friendly locals whose welcoming nature set the destination apart as an ideal vacation destination.

The seasoned travel-writer, who has also visited and written about destinations in Europe, South America and North America, also praised Tobago’s unspoilt, untouched beaches as some of the best in the world, calling the iconic Englishman’s Bay “the postcard-picture definition of tropical paradise”. His resulting articles about his visit to the destination will be used as inspirational marketing content to drive increased arrivals to Tobago from the lucrative Irish Market, which is in alignment with the Tobago Tourism Agency’s Road Map for Growth.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Destination News

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Caribbean Pushes for Inclusive Tourism Development

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (3 July 2019) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is creating a plan for the systematic development of community-based tourism as a viable niche and will present the details during the upcoming Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development.

The event, otherwise known as the Sustainable Tourism Conference (#STC2019), is scheduled for 26-29 Aug. 2019 at the Beachcombers Hotel in St. Vincent and is organised by CTO in partnership with the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority (SVGTA).

At a general session titled “Community-based Tourism Driving Tourism Innovations and Experiences” scheduled 11:30 a.m. on 27 August, delegates will be presented with robust market research that encapsulates visitors’ willingness to pay for innovative tourism experiences across the Caribbean. The session will also delve into how community tourism supports product diversification and differentiation and can enhance community participation in tourism, with the ultimate benefit being the creation of a distinctive and responsible tourism brand.

CTO has worked with regional partner the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility (CCPF) – a development programme that focuses on innovative and practical solutions that stimulate economic growth, productivity and competitiveness – to develop the market research.

Session presenters include a Compete Caribbean representative who will address the need for cooperation in tourism to ensure local enterprises, particularly micro, small and medium enterprises, are integrated in the tourism value chain. Judy Karwacki, president of Small Planet Consulting, and a community-based tourism development specialist,  will introduce a community-based tourism toolkit commissioned by the CTO.

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.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, STC

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Discover Puerto Rico Reports Highest Tourism Revenue and Visitor Numbers Ever

San Juan, Puerto Rico, July 1, 2019 – Today, Discover Puerto Rico, the Island’s first-ever Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), celebrates its one-year anniversary, announcing that tourism is the strongest it’s ever been, as the destination tracks towards a record-breaking year. Year-to-date revenue is the highest in the Island’s history, with $445M reported through May.[1] The Island has received 1.67M visitors across the San Juan, Ponce, and Aguadilla airports in the first few months of this year, the highest number of airport arrivals in the January-April timeframe in the Island’s history.[2]

“Despite the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) estimating a recovery between 2021-2022, and New Orleans taking eight years to get back to pre-Katrina levels, we set an aggressive goal to fast-track the visitor economy at a record pace, for the benefit of local communities,” said Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico.

Since its inception last July, Discover Puerto Rico quickly embarked on a mission to reposition Puerto Rico’s brand, fully capitalizing on the Island’s rich tourism product to thrive as a leading Caribbean destination. The organization’s five major initiatives include:

  • Decreased negative perception: Discover Puerto Rico addressed the negative perceptions travelers and meeting planners had, to strengthen both the leisure and meetings and conventions segments.

Consumers’ likelihood to visit Puerto Rico increased 6 points over the past year,[3] an impressive jump, despite significantly reduced marketing budgets.

Among meeting planners, post-Maria perception of Puerto Rico as a fully recovered or ready for business destination has increased 5X (from 8% to 41%) over the past year. Desirability for booking meetings & conventions has grown almost 3X (from 24% to 71%) this year.[4]

  • Repositioned the brand for growth: Given inconsistent branding through the years, Discover Puerto Rico repositioned the brand. They developed a new brand identity, and launched a research-based marketing strategy, along with a new brand campaign, a move that has already yielded results and will yield even greater long-term impact.

Data shows that consumers who are exposed to the new brand campaign are staying nearly three days longer than those who haven’t been.[5]

Media coverage of areas outside San Juan has grown 4X since last July, and there has been a tremendous growth in the number of visitors outside of San Juan. Arrivals into Aguadilla are 44% higher than the previous record from 2017, and the airport is on pace to receive 800,000 passengers this year, which would shatter the existing record.

Media coverage of Puerto Rico most prominently features culture, arts, and cuisine, followed by natural attractions, versus just beaches.

  • Revamped digital marketing that drives results: Discover Puerto Rico is more strongly connecting with travelers online. The new website, revamped approach to driving social media engagement, and strong digital ad performance, are proving effective.

Since launch, traffic to the new website is up 128%. Pages per session are up 34%, showing people are engaging with a range of content. Time on the website is up 31%, and bounce rate is down by 13%, meaning the content is driving interest. Page views are also up 228%.

Discover Puerto Rico has seen nearly 40,000 referrals to local businesses and points of interest.

  • Catapulted the meetings and conventions business: Discover Puerto Rico took a very weak pipeline of sales prospects, and injected strong interest to propel Puerto Rico as a leading force in the space, as the they elevate the Island’s status as the most technologically-advanced destination in the Caribbean, offering ease of traveling, combined with unparalleled culture and diverse natural offerings.

Leads-generated and contracted events are the highest they have been in five years. Requested and contracted rooms are also at an all-time high. And, conversions on bookings are up 121% (from 14% to 31%).

Discover Puerto Rico estimates over $92M in economic impact, with groups already signed and another $288M in potential impact from opportunities in the pipeline.

This effort secured Connect 2021, which will bring a gathering of 1,700 meeting planners across a wide range of sectors.

  • Increased operational efficiency and effectiveness: The DMO is preparing for industry accreditation to position Discover Puerto Rico among the highest in quality and performance standards for destination marketing and management. A year in advance of being eligible, the DMO checks off meeting high standards in areas including governance, finance, human resources, sales, communications, branding, destination development, and research. The DMO already complies with 70% of the mandatory accreditation standards and 40% of the aspirational or voluntary standards of leading DMOs.

“We’re thrilled to report that Puerto Rico’s tourism is the strongest it’s ever been. However, this is just the first step. Our ultimate objective is to put the transformative power of travel to work in Puerto Rico, by doubling the visitor economy, and continuing to benefit the Island’s residents and businesses. It’s critical to ensure we have the right resources to continue this momentum,” said Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico.

The destination is seeing numerous enhancements to its product, drawing travelers to its growing list of experiences. The Island’s rich culture, cuisine, history, arts, music, and dance are unparalleled. It’s an Island filled with natural wonders, including the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. Forest Service, El Yunque National Forest, and three of the world’s five bioluminescent bays.

The Island has also become a hotspot in the Caribbean for the LGBTQ+ community with a culture of inclusivity, and a variety of attractions and nightlife.

And, with growing hospital developments on the Island, and the benefit of recovery in a tropical climate, the medical tourism sector will also be one of growth in the future.

Among Puerto Rico’s numerous and exciting future endeavors, are the 500-year anniversary of San Juan, with cultural events beginning in Fall 2019, the opening of District San Juan, a five-acre hospitality and entertainment district, destined to be the most vibrant in the Caribbean, and being named the host destination for the upcoming World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) 2020 Global Summit.

For more information on the destination, visit: DiscoverPuertoRico.com.

[1] Source: STR Monthly Trend Report, January-May 2019. AirDNA Monthly Market Summary Report, January-May 2019
[2] Source: Aerostar Airport Holdings, LLC. PMM Business Intelligence, January-April 2019
[3] Source: Strategic Marketing & Research Insights, LLC, Brand Health Research
[4] Source: Discover Puerto Rico, Planners’ Perception Research
[5] Source: Arrivalist

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Destination News

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