CTO News

Puerto Rico Says Thank You

Today marks two years since Hurricane Maria, and Puerto Rico’s tourism community wants to say THANK YOU to all the travelers who have helped Puerto Rico have a record-breaking year so far. With year-to-date tourism revenue and passenger arrivals at an all-time high, the tourism industry, currently one of Puerto Rico’s shining lights, and a success story worth sharing, has made a historical comeback and has never been stronger.

Discover Puerto Rico developed a video called “Thank you from Puerto Rico,” a compilation of stories and thank you’s from Puerto Ricans who depend on tourism. It shines a light on the importance of tourism and its impact on the local economy, and shows just how impactful a visit to the Island can be. Puerto Rico’s story is one of resiliency, especially among the local community, and those that tourism impacts each and every day. A slightly longer version of this video just went live here, as well.

Island images can be found here, and hi-res images from the video here, as well as tourism stats below.

Tourism Growth

  • Welcoming over 4M visitors each year, Puerto Rico is on track to achieve a record-breaking year in 2019.
  • According to CTO, tourism on the Island experienced an increase of 62.3% in the first 6 months of 2019.
  • Puerto Rico is recovering 4X faster than New Orleans after Katrina.


  • YTD tourism revenue has been at an all-time high.
    • – Apr. 2019 occupancy spending for hotels/independent rentals combined reached $373.6M, the highest in 8 years, and an increase of 12.4% compared to 2017 pre-Maria levels. The rest of ‘19 is booking 24.1% higher than ‘18 for hotels.
    • – June lodging demand showed significant growth, with traditional lodging/independent rentals combined, Puerto Rico is less than 2% off record highs in 2017.
  • YTD inventory is more than the Island has ever had.
    • Overall, the number of room nights in hotels and independent rentals in Q1 increased 17% over 2018, generating the highest Q1 demand in room nights ever recorded in Puerto Rico.
    • Puerto Rico dominated the list of the top 10 Airbnb world destinations this summer.

Air Access

  • San Juan International Airport (SJU) set a June record for most arrivals in the month’s history, surpassing the previous record from June 2017.
  • In the first 8 months of 2019, San Juan International Airport (SJU) has handled an 11.4% jump in passenger traffic, representing a total of more than 6.5M passengers.
    • arrivals to San Juan International Airport (SJU) saw 7.6% growth compared to Aug. 2018, with a total of 815.043 passengers.
  • The Aguadilla airport established individual and collective passenger records for January – April, reaching 251,898 passengers, an increase of 98,271 compared to the same period in 2018. This, being a strong sign of growth as carriers expand capacity.

Cruise Industry

  • The projection for 2019 cruise ship passengers is expected to break records at 1.8M passengers.
  • 2019 numbers reflected an increase of 28.9% of visitors from previous years.
  • There was a 56.6% increase in homeport cruise passengers compared to Jan. 2018.


  • The Puerto Rico Convention Center, the most technically-advanced convention center in the Caribbean, experienced its most successful year in its 14-year history during the 2018-2019 fiscal year. It saw:
    • An increase of 26% in total attendance (644,000 visitors) over the previous 13-year average.
    • 96% overall customer satisfaction ratings along with a 21% increase in total events.
    • 417 events in comparison to previous 13-year average.
  • In addition to this, using 3-year historical volume, group sales on the Island are booking 212% higher for 2020.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Destination News

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Caribbean Youth to Tackle Issues of Smart Travel at CTO Youth Congress

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (20 Sept. 2019) – Students from 14 Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) member countries will tackle some of the most pertinent issues facing the regional tourism industry at the CTO-organised Caribbean Tourism Youth Congress in Antigua & Barbuda next month.

The ‘Junior Ministers of Tourism’ will present proposals on three topics – Towards Smart Travel Experiences Within The Caribbean Region; Equipping Our Youth To Thrive In A Changing Tourism Environment; and Making Excellence A Habit In Caribbean Tourism.

The students, aged 14 to 17, will do so in the presence of the key decision-makers from CTO-member governments, among other tourism leaders, at the event to be held at the Royalton Antigua Resort & Spa on Friday 4 October.

On the issue of smart travel experiences, students will propose policies or actions which can be implemented by governments to facilitate smart travel experiences at ports of entry. They will also address the quest for habitual service excellence in the tourism industry in order to meet growing expectations on businesses and keep the industry competitive and growing.

In addition, the students will also look at government strategies which can help prepare young people for the changing nature of work brought about by technology.

An Overseas Development Institute 2015 report on ‘Jobs for the Future’ predicts that such jobs “will look dramatically different” from what we are used to. “Fundamental changes in Technology – the ‘digital revolution’ – are breaking down barriers and building new bridges with unprecedented speed. Together with the retirement of the baby boomer generation and rise of the millennials generation [and Generation Z], we see a workforce with new characteristics. Interconnectivity and globalisation are weaving a new economy that connects the world at great speed, creating new powerhouses and threatening traditional models,” the report states.

The gathering, typically a thought-provoking and spirited exchange of views from the youth leaders, will be chaired by last year’s winner, Bryanna Hylton of Jamaica.

The Caribbean Tourism Youth Congress is the final event of a three-day programme of activities organised by the CTO in Antigua and Barbuda. It will follow the members-only Caribbean Tourism Sector Outlook Forum on the morning of Friday 4 October, at which Caribbean tourism policymakers, marketers and other senior officers will engage leaders from the tourism industry that generate business to the region. Both these events will be preceded by the CTO business meetings on 2 and 3 October.

For details on the programme of activities, including how to register for the forum and the youth congress, please visit https://www.onecaribbean.org/events-calendar/october-2019-meetings/.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Corporate News

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CTO Makes Initial Monetary Contribution to the Bahamas Recovery Effort

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (19 Sept. 2019) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has made an initial monetary contribution to The Bahamas to assist with its recovery efforts in Abaco and Grand Bahama following the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian earlier this month.

The sum of US$20,000 – monies raised through the CTO Relief Fund (https://bit.ly/2klH17e) – has been transferred to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) of The Bahamas as part of the CTO’s on-going support of the long-term recovery of the affected islands.

The CTO activated its hurricane relief fund immediately after Hurricane Dorian battered the northwestern Bahamian islands of Abacos and Grand Bahama, leaving behind a trail of destruction, over 50 confirmed deaths and many more missing.

“The CTO sincerely thanks those of you who are helping The Bahamas by contributing to the hurricane relief fund. Your assistance goes a long way towards bringing relief to the people of the Abacos and Grand Bahama who suffered gravely from Hurricane Dorian,” said Neil Walters, the CTO’s acting secretary general. “We encourage everyone to continue to contribute to the fund so we can keep assisting those affected. However, it’s important to note that 14 tourist destinations in The Bahamas were unaffected by the storm and we encourage persons planning vacations at this time to show their ultimate support to The Bahamas by visiting at least one of these destinations.”

In addition to the relief fund, the CTO is engaged in other activities to assist The Bahamas as follows:

  • Collaborating with Friends of Culture, a 501C3 organisation in New Orleans, Louisiana, to raise funds at its annual Bayou Bacchanal (Caribbean Carnival), which will be held 2 November in New Orleans
  • Worked with Julie Guaglardi of Zelman Style Interiors to highlight the Bahamas at a fashion show in Times Square, New York during New York Fashion Week, reaching an audience of 100,000

To contribute to the CTO Hurricane Relief Fund please visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/hurricane-relief-fund-cto

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Corporate News

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St. Kitts Develops the Growth Potential of Its Canadian Market

Basseterre, St. Kitts (September 17, 2019) – The delegation from St. Kitts led by Minister of Tourism the Hon. Lindsay F.P. Grant met with top management from Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations at their respective headquarters, tour operators, travel trade professionals and hosted a consumer lifestyle event in conjunction with Luxe magazine during a visit to Canada on September 4 and 5, 2019. The purpose of the trip was to highlight the destination in light of the growth in the Canadian market and explore the even greater growth potential based on the new Air Canada mid-week flight.

“I am extremely pleased with the partnerships we have established in Canada,” said the Hon. Mr. Lindsay F.P. Grant, Minister of Tourism, International Trade, Industry, Commerce and Consumer Affairs. “With more flights, package offers, sellers and increasing consumer awareness, Canadian visitors and the Diaspora alike have more options to visit the destination during the busiest time of year for travel. The positive feedback we heard from Air Canada in particular regarding the performance of the Toronto-St. Kitts non-stop service demonstrates the carrier’s increasing confidence in our tourism product.”

Racquel Brown, CEO of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, added, “To continue our momentum of strong arrivals growth from Canada achieved through targeted marketing and sales to the affluent traveler in the golf and lifestyle niche markets, it will be critical to maintain or expand our service from Air Canada and optimize all of our in-market partnerships moving forward.”

In meetings with Air Canada, the delegation discussed further development of the existing successful airline-destination partnership and, in particular, the first ever Tuesday non-stop peak season service starting this winter.  The next day, a visit to Air Canada Vacations included dialog about increasing the number of St. Kitts’ properties in their program and highlighted the product improvements at the various properties currently in their program.  Meetings with select tour operators and travel agents updated them about what’s new on island.

In addition, a well-attended evening event in Toronto was held at the Globe and Mail rooftop terrace held in conjunction with media partner, Luxe Magazine, to grow awareness among target upscale consumers.

For the first four months of 2019, air passenger arrivals from Air Canada increased over 60% as compared to the same period in 2018. Air Canada first began serving St. Kitts non-stop on Fridays in peak season from Toronto Pearson International Airport in 2011 and subsequently shifted to Saturday service.  It is the island’s only non-stop scheduled service from Canada.  Service expanded to operate for a six-month period starting in November 2018 through the end of April 2019 with the majority of those flights upgauged.  From February 11 through April 14, 2020, Air Canada will operate a second weekly non-stop flight from Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) to St. Kitts on Tuesdays for the first time in the island’s history.

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The Martinique Gourmande Festival on From September 19 to 29

MONTREAL, September 18th – Building on last year’s success with a record-breaking participation of 44 restaurants in Montreal and Quebec City, the Martinique Gourmande culinary festival will return in September for its 12th edition, with two new features.

Lovers of Creole cuisine, save your dates!

Nowadays a not-to-be miss fall event in Montreal and Quebec City, Martinique Gourmande will once again bring together, from September 19 to 29, dozens of restaurateurs, chefs, mixologists and lovers of Creole cuisine, around the spicy flavours of the flower island. This culinary festival, which celebrates Martinican culture and its culinary traditions, is also a space for meeting and sharing between Quebec and Martinican chefs and mixologists. Several renowned Martinican chefs are expected and will be announced in August.

A promising theme

In 2019, the creation of original dishes and cocktails to be served in participating restaurants and bars will be inspired by the theme “Passion, Creole flavours and great rums’’. Foodies will undoubtedly be delighted! To learn moreabout the participating restaurants (currently being registered),visit www.martiniquegourmande.ca. Menus will be available in August.

New: The Martinique Gourmande’s Creole Village in Complexe Desjardins

To launch this 12th edition, the Martinique Tourism Authority announces the creation of the Martinique Gourmande’s Creole Village, a festive and entertaining place, which will open its doors for two days on the Grande-Place of complexe Desjardins, on September 19 and 20.Visitors are expected in large number, to experience the captivating Martinican culture and culinary heritage such ascooking workshops, rum tastings, literary spaces, and Zouk classes. In addition, these activities are free of charge (some on reservation). Full details will be announced in August.

New: Family cooking workshop at the Jean Talon Market

Martinique Gourmande also invites you for the first time to the Jean Talon Market, to participate in the C’est moi le chef! family culinary workshops on September 21 and 22 ($).  These workshops will initiate children to cooking (with their parents), this time with a Martinican touch.  The MartinicanChefs will be present on September 21. The hours will be announced in August on the C’estmoi le chef!

The Martinique Gourmande Contest: taste, participate, travel!

Martinique loves you, it’s well known! This is why, every year, the Martinique Gourmande Contest offers all festival-goers the opportunity to win a trip for two to Martinique. How to participate? Order your Martinique Gourmande menu at one of the participating establishments. Once your meal or cocktail has been tasted, you will be given a participation coupon that will allow you to register for the contest from September 19 to 29.

Thanks to the partners

The Martinique Tourism Authority would like to thank the participating restaurants and bars, as well as the chefs and mixologists who will prepare the menus and cocktails and host Martinique Gourmande 2019. This 12th edition of the festival is also made possible thanks to Air Canada, les Rhums Saint James, Club Med Les Boucaniers and les Rhums Trois-Rivières.

It is therefore an anticipated event to which you are warmly invited. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy the summer and celebrate with Martinique!

About Martinique Gourmande Festival:

At the initiative of the Martinique Tourism Authorityin Canada, this culinary festival focussing on sunny flavours was launched in 2008, with the aim of prolonging summer in the plates and hearts of Quebecers… it was one of the first of its kind in Montreal! Eleven editions and a few thousandsfeasts later, the festival now brings together more than 40 participating establishments, including the first-time faithful such as the Carte Blanche Restaurant, Renoir, Ateliers et Saveurs, Café Prague or the Lab, Cocktail Counter. For more information, visit www.martiniquegourmande.ca.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Destination News

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Africa Caribbean Heritage to be Explored at Akwaaba Travel Market, Lagos Nigeria

LONDON, UK (17 September 2019):  The topic of African Heritage of the Caribbean … Connecting the Dots takes centre stage at the Akwaaba Travel Market in Lagos, Nigeria, September 22 – 24, where the Caribbean Tourism Organization has been invited to lead a high level panel discussion.

During the session the keynote address will be delivered by Dr Kerry Hall, Director of Tourism Product Development, in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, Barbados. Dr Hall will share historical facts on the English-born settlers living in Barbados, who required more land to expand the island’s thriving sugar industry. They sailed to North America, bringing along enslaved black Barbadians and white Barbadian indentured servants. Not only did the plantation-based system of enslaved people define the economy of the American South, but Charleston in South Carolina, still reflects the African and Barbadian Heritage, and proudly maintain Gullah Traditions.

Dr Hall declared the connection between Africa, Barbados and Charleston is a story that needs to be showcased to the world. ‘I am honoured to have the opportunity to share the fascinating yet little known linkages which bind Barbados and Charleston. We recently launched the documentary ‘Beyond Barbados: The Barbados Carolinas Connection’ and will also showcase the documentary during Akwaaba Travel Market’.

Other esteemed panel members include His Excellency Wendell De Landro, High Commissioner for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and His Excellency Esmond Reid, High Commissioner of Jamaica to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

High Commissioner De Landro will discuss how the Africa Caribbean Heritage has influenced diaspora and international tourism in Trinidad and Tobago, and the impact that this has had on establishing Trinidad Carnival as one of the most renowned Carnivals in the world.

High Commissioner Reid will address on how Jamaica’s music and heritage have been strongly influenced by Africa and the Rastafarian movement. These influences have enriched Jamaica’s position as a leading destination for travellers seeking an authentic cultural experience.

Fabien Anthony, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Pan-African Council, will address the Caribbean roots of Pan-Africanism, including opportunities to foster connections and strategic partnerships between Africa and its diaspora in the Caribbean and North America that will lead to impactful opportunities for youth and communities. Anthony, will also promote Diaspora Tourism as a lever for education, cultural exchange, community leadership and economic opportunities.

Sharon Palacio, Chairperson from In2Belize Travel and Tours and leading Garifuna Specialist from Belize will discuss the African Heritage of the Garifuna people, enslaved West Africans who washed ashore on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent around 1635 while likely on their way to the mines and plantations in the Americas. Palacio will also highlight how their legacy is preserved today through culture and heritage.

The panel organised by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) will be moderated by Carol Hay, CTO’s Director of Marketing UK & Europe. Hay stated: ‘We welcome the opportunity to participate in Akwaaba Travel Market with such a dynamic panel of speakers. The theme for the travel market, ‘The Year of the Return’, commemorates 400 years since the first Africans were enslaved, taken from their homeland and brought to the Caribbean and the rest of the Americas. We have a vibrant story to tell; a rich heritage to share, and really see this as an opportunity to connect the dots on all levels, including the opportunity to promote tourism and trade between Africa and the Caribbean’.

About Akwaaba Travel Market
Akwaaba Africa Travel Market (AFTM) is an international travel, tourism and hospitality event organized annually in Lagos, Nigeria. AFTM is aimed at businesses, investors, government decision-makers, and buyers in the industry providing business opportunities, industry news and showcasing products in Africa and around the world, it serves as a platform to trade and network. Akwaaba African Travel market is the first travel market in West Africa. For more information visit https://www.africantravelmarkets.com/ng/

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