CTO News

Montserrat launches new Destination Website

Brades, Montserrat – October 8, 2020 – The Montserrat Tourism Division has launched a new destination website – www.visitmontserrat.com.  Director of Tourism, Warren Solomon commented, “This is a major step in enhancing our marketing capabilities. The website will play a key role in generating awareness, providing users with compelling stories and information on the island’s history, culture, sites and attractions, giving them all that they need to book a Montserrat vacation.”

The website was developed by Trinidad & Tobago-based Webfx (formerly Toucan Ltd), which beat out some fifteen other companies from the USA, Canada, the UK, India and the Caribbean who responded to the Invitation to Tender. “A strong digital media presence is essential for a tourist destination, especially in light of COVID-19. The Montserrat Tourism Division took the right steps to invest in one now,” noted Douglas Ames, Chief Dishwasher at Webfx.

Another objective of the new website is to create an enabling environment for Montserrat’s tourism stakeholders to promote their services, giving visitors to the site a more holistic experience of the destination. The launch of the website is a key milestone in the implementation of the island’s Tourism Strategy and received valuable inputs, not just from members of the local tourism industry, but also international travel and media partners.

The website incorporates striking imagery and video content and the primary goal during the design phase was to create a more user-centric and responsive resource across all platforms and devices. A new feature that was not part of previous versions of the destination website is a dedicated section outlining all of the requirements and application forms for individuals or media companies interested in coming to film in Montserrat.

While leisure travel to the island is still prohibited, the Tourism Division views it as critical that the destination remains visible to the travel market, so that when the borders are re-opened, Montserrat will be one of the warm-weather destinations being considered by consumers.

 

Posted in: 2020 News, Blog, Destination News

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Trinidad Government Provides Upgrade Assistance to Tourism Accommodation Providers

Port of Spain, Trinidad Friday October 02, 2020 – Recently, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago announced an extension and expansion of the Trinidad and Tobago Tourism Accommodation Upgrade Project (TAUP) for a period of three (3) years from October 01, 2020 to September 30, 2023. This tourism incentive was developed to assist Trinidad and Tobago’s tourism accommodation property owners/operators to upgrade their facilities to a first-class level that is expected to meet and/or exceed the Trinidad and Tobago standard requirements for tourist accommodation. The resulting improvement in room stock quality is expected to enhance the overall competitiveness of the destination’s tourism product.

TAUP provides a reimbursement incentive for the upgrade of Trinidad and Tobago’s small to medium sized tourism accommodation facilities. The project evolved in 2014 from providing an incentive for the upgrade of guestrooms only for properties with less than 100 rooms, to providing an incentive for the upgrade of the interior or exterior of the property for accommodation facilities with 1 to 150 rooms.

Under the new TAUP program, eligible upgrade work has been specifically extended to include a focus on initiatives that enhance environmental sustainability and property attributes such as:

  • Upgrade work aimed at promoting environmentally friendly practices, reducing the carbon footprint, and achieving sustainability 
  • Perimeter fencing/walls, drainage, and sewerage

In further explaining the evolution of the TAUP initiative, Mrs. Heidi Alert, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of Tourism Trinidad Limited, noted that “Even while we prioritise the health and safety of the nation, it is important to prepare for the future. It is also a time for innovation and adapting to future demands of travellers. It is hoped that by providing these type of investment incentives, accommodation providers will be encouraged to improve the overall product and even repackage their services to make it more attractive in this COVID-19 era and beyond”.

The incentives under the TAUP are administered in two (2) categories: – 

  • Upgrade of Small Approved Tourism Properties in Trinidad and Tobago(Properties with 1-5 guestrooms): Eligible properties can receive a 40% reimbursement of expenditure per room up to a maximum reimbursement of $25,000.00 per room in Trinidad, with a maximum of $150,000.00 per property, for upgrade works to the interior or exterior of the property.
  • Trinidad and Tobago Hotel and Guesthouse Room Stock Upgrade Program (Properties with 6-150 guestrooms): Eligible properties can receive a 50% reimbursement of expenditure per room up to a maximum reimbursement of $25,000.00 per room in Trinidad, with a maximum of $1,500,000.00 per property, for upgrade works to the interior or exterior of the property.

Tourism Trinidad continues to work closely with Trinidad’s stakeholders in the development of innovative programs to provide the necessary support to our tourism partners and restore industry vigour and growth within the shortest possible time. Tourism Trinidad has been supportive of the industry; implementing many initiatives to further improve the sector’s competitiveness.  In collaboration with InvesTT, we are in the process of creating an inventory of sites in Trinidad which has the potential to be used for the development of private sector tourism projects.

The aim of this sites inventory is to bolster growth and diversify the tourism sector; encouraging the private sector to invest more efficiently in innovative tourism products and experiences. We are focusing on possible investment sites for Business Hotels, Resort Hotels, Conference Centres, Theme Parks, Cultural Centres, Eco Lodges, Nature Resorts, or any other similar facility for use in the development and advancement of our tourism sector.

In September, the organisation started the roll-out of its industry capacity building activities on certification for COVID-19 Health and Safety. The capacity-building training is part of the many initiatives Tourism Trinidad is implementing to further develop globally competitive tourism businesses.

In conjunction with these initiatives, Tourism Trinidad has joined with over twenty-five (25) tourism operators, including hoteliers, in a “Sweet Sweet Trinidad” Staycation program that will run until December 2020 to revive the local tourism industry and provide revenues for tourism entrepreneurs upon relaxation of Stay at Home measures.

 

 

Posted in: 2020 News, Blog, Destination News

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The Bahamas Introduces New Travel and Testing Protocols

NASSAU, Bahamas, 1st October 2020 – The Islands of The Bahamas remains committed to welcoming visitors to its shores and providing an exceptional tropical vacation coupled with our world famous warm and friendly hospitality, while, responsibly enforcing public health and safety measures to protect residents and visitors alike.

While 15th October is still set for the reopening of the tourism sector, until 31st October all incoming visitors must “Vacation in Place” for 14 days or the duration of stay, whichever is shorter, which means limiting the vacation experience to the grounds and amenities of a traveler’s hotel or accommodations. Beginning 1st November, The Bahamas will remove the mandatory “Vacation in Place” requirement for all visitors, returning citizens and residents thereby, enabling everyone to move about and explore the destination beyond the confines of their hotel or other accommodations.

The new protocols will require visitors, and returning citizens and residents to obtain a RT-PCR (swab) test no more than seven (7) days prior to their travel to The Bahamas.

In addition, and to ensure that travelers remain COVID free, a rapid antigen test will be conducted upon arrival, and then again four days (96 hours) after arrival in The Bahamas. Children ten (10) and under are exempt from taking a rapid antigen test.

Specifics are as follows:

Prior to Travel:
COVID-19 RT-PCR Test: All persons traveling to The Bahamas must obtain a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR (swab) test taken no more than seven (7) days prior to the date of arrival. The name and address of the lab, where the test was performed, must be clearly displayed on the test result.
o Children ten (10) and under and pilots and crew of commercial airlines, who remain overnight in The Bahamas, are exempt from obtaining the RT-PCR test.

Bahamas Health Travel Visa: Once in possession of a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test, all travelers will then be required to apply for a Bahamas Health Travel Visa at travel.gov.bs (click on the International Tab) where the required test must be uploaded.

The cost of the visa will depend on the length of stay.

Upon Arrival
Day of Arrival (Day One): Rapid Test – All persons entering The Bahamas, at an approved Port of Entry, will receive a Rapid COVID-19 antigen test.

If arriving by air, an approved Port of Entry will be: Nassau, Freeport, Marsh Harbour, North Eleuthera, Georgetown (Exuma), Bimini (and Cat Cay) and San Andros (Andros).

If arriving by sea, an approved Port of Entry will be: Nassau (Atlantis, Bay Street Marina, Lyford Cay, Albany and Nassau Yacht Haven); Grand Bahama (West End – Old Bahama Bay and Freeport – Lucaya); Abaco (Marsh Harbour Government Dock); Eleuthera (Spanish Wells Marina); Berry Islands (Chubb Cay Club); Bimini (Big Game Club and Cat Cay Club); Exuma (Georgetown Government Dock).

American Airlines has indicated that, beginning in late October, they wish to provide each passenger traveling to The Bahamas from Miami with a Rapid COVID-19 antigen test before boarding the plane. These passengers, along with the passengers of any other airlines wishing to provide a similar service, will not be required to complete the Rapid Test upon arrival in The Bahamas.

After Arrival
• Day Five (96 hours after arrival): Rapid Test – All persons who entered The Bahamas, and who are staying longer than four nights and five days, will be required to take a second Rapid COVID-19 antigen test. To be clear, all visitors departing on Day Five will not be required to obtain this test.

The cost of the rapid tests on and after arrival will be included in the cost of the visa.

The rapid tests are easy, quick and will yield results in 20 minutes or less with results being provided electronically.

Many hotel properties will provide relevant information on testing arrangements, while others will facilitate the required rapid test for their guests.

All persons on yachts and other pleasure craft will be able to make arrangements for their required rapid tests at the port of entry or via the relevant website.

All other visitors, returning residents and citizens will be able to make arrangements for their required rapid tests at the port of entry or via the relevant website.

The On Island Experience:
All islands in The Bahamas require the wearing of masks and appropriate social distancing in public places.

The Bahamas has remained diligent in its efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19 throughout the islands, and these measures are imperative to ensure that remains the case. The health and wellbeing of both residents and visitors remain the number one priority of our public health officials. It is important to note, however, that due to fluidity of the COVID-19 situation, both in The Bahamas and worldwide, protocols are subject to change.

Posted in: 2020 News, Blog, Destination News

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St. Kitts & Nevis to Reopen Borders on October 31, 2020

Basseterre, St. Kitts (October 1, 2020) – St. Kitts & Nevis is pleased to once again welcome visitors to its shores beginning October 31, 2020. In order to ensure a responsible reopening of its borders, the Federation is the last Caribbean destination to do so.

The CDC recently assessed the Federation’s Covid-19 risk as very low and designated it as “No Travel Notice” required, having had only 19 cases of the Coronavirus, no community spread and no deaths.

“We have been working diligently to prepare for this reopening to ensure that we are ready to welcome travelers by training and certifying local businesses and individuals in the health and safety protocols they are required to meet and be certified in to be permitted to operate,” said the Hon. Lindsay F.P. Grant, Minister of Tourism, Transport and Ports. “This is particularly important as we encourage visitors to explore our islands beyond their hotels to experience what makes us a unique, authentic and quintessential Caribbean experience.”

The Hon. Mark Brantley, Minister of Foreign Affairs & Aviation, added, “The genuinely friendly people of St. Kitts & Nevis are a key component of our tourism product, so the protocols we have established aim to provide for their safety in interacting with visitors as well as visitors’ safety in interacting with our people. It is critical to travelers’ perceptions of St. Kitts & Nevis as a safe and desirable destination of choice as well as to citizens and residents own safety in embracing their return.”

The twin-island Federation has received international recognition of their successful management of the first wave of the global pandemic as a result of early and aggressive testing, contact tracing and quarantine program along with an “All of Society Approach” that includes mask-wearing in public, social distancing and sanitization protocols to ensure everyone’s health and safety. Key outlets such as the BBC, Sky News and Tripoto have named St. Kitts & Nevis among the few countries in the world to have effectively “beat” the virus.

Ongoing and careful consultation with the Chief Medical Officer and Ministry of Health to fully develop and implement health and safety protocols for the entire industry was paramount to ensure the well-being of all citizens, residents and visitors. In fact, for business to reopen, tourism industry businesses, employers and employees must undergo “Travel Approved” training for their respective sector/business/department and upon completion of the training they receive the “Travel Approved” Certification and Seal. The “Travel Approved” Certification and Seal provides assurance to citizens, residents and visitors the destination is ensuring health and safety protocols are not compromised in St. Kitts & Nevis and can be trusted.

It was only then St. Kitts & Nevis decided to reopen its borders.

About St. Kitts & Nevis
Located in the northern Leeward islands where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean is the captivating twin-island Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. Step off the beaten track in this uncrowded quintessential Caribbean destination to discover a distinctive array of tourism activities and astonishing natural beauty.

Experiences ranging from one-of-a-kind attractions such as the UNESCO recognized Brimstone Hill Fortress Park and The Sugar Train, the Caribbean’s only scenic passenger railway in St. Kitts to the birth place of America’s founding father Alexander Hamilton in Nevis bring the historic past of the first European outpost in the Caribbean to life.

Authentic “hidden gems” abound, including local restaurants that grill up the catch of the day to barefoot beach bars and private inlets for swimming or anchoring a sailing vessel or yacht.

Become immersed in nature with a hike up the rainforested Mt. Liamuiga in St. Kitts or Nevis Peak in Nevis, then take to the water for kayaking, speedboating or a scenic catamaran sail along the coast. When the beach beckons, head to one of many secluded stretches of sand to soak in the Caribbean sun until at day’s end it silently slips below the horizon.

St. Kitts & Nevis is a secret treasure just waiting to be discovered. Learn more at www.stkittstourism.kn and www.nevisisland.com.

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Belize Officially Reopens International Airport To Leisure Travel

BELIZE CITY, BELIZE (Oct. 1, 2020) – Today, the country of Belize officially reopened the Philip Goldson International Airport (BZE) welcoming inbound leisure travel for international visitors, with approved hotels and tour operators only. The decision to reopen the international airport, which was closed due to COVID-19 restrictions in late-March, as well as launch Phase 3 of the destination’s five-phased Travel Reopening Plan, was made in conjunction with the Prime Minister of Belize, the Rt. Hon. Dean O. Barrow.

Travelers looking to visit Belize in 2020-2021 can choose from a new schedule of year-round, non-stop flights offered by American Airlines, United Airlines and Delta Airlines. Beginning Oct. 1, Belize will welcome non-stop flights from Miami (via American Airlines) and Houston (via United Airlines). Similarly, longtime BZE partner Delta Airlines will resume airlift on Nov. 20 with non-stop service from Atlanta. The restoration of direct-flight service enables visitors to get to Belize in approximately three hours or less and is a major milestone in the country’s phased reopening.

In this initial phase of reopening for international visitation, Belize’s Safe Corridor will include hotels, restaurants and tour operators that have achieved the destination’s “Tourism Gold Standard” Recognition. This 9-point program seeks to enhance the tourism industry’s health and safety standards by adapting new behaviors and procedures to ensure both employees and travelers are confident in the cleanliness and safety of Belize’s tourism product. Businesses that meet the requirements of the Tourism Gold Standard Program are certified and promoted as having implemented these enhanced measures with a Gold Standard Seal of Approval. This seal certifies industry stakeholders who’ve embraced the safety protocols, and will be visible for all guests where practical, such as tour operator vehicles and vessels, hotel lobbies, primary doors of entry, etc.

“We’re confident the Tourism Gold Standard Recognition Program and Gold Standard Seal of Approval will allow travelers and the tourism industry to operate safely as COVID-19 restrictions are eased,” said BTB Director of Tourism, Karen Bevans. “While visitors will need to adhere to our “new normal” entry requirements and safety protocols, their experience will remain authentic to Belize’s adventurous spirit.”

GOLD STANDARD CERTIFIED HOTELS

As the Belize Tourism Board continues to process applications, inspect and approve new properties, visitors are advised to visit https://belizetourismboard.org/industry-sectors/gold-standard-approved/ for approved properties. It’s recommended travelers visit the site often for updates, as new properties are added daily.

Hotels approved to open within the safe corridor:

  • Have achieved the Tourism Gold Standard Recognition Program and received approval to reopen
  • Are able to provide full service to guests. This means that these properties are able to provide all amenities, including round-trip transport service from the airport, access to a restaurant on property, a pool and/or beachfront, offer onsite activities and provide isolated tours.
  • In addition to the above, these properties will also implement:
    • Social distancing and the use of facemasks while in public spaces
    • Online check-in/out, contactless payment systems, and automated ordering/booking
    • Hand sanitizing stations across the property
    • Enhanced room cleaning and increased sanitation of public spaces and high-touch surfaces
    • Daily health checks for guests and employees
    • Designated ‘isolation/quarantine rooms’ for suspected COVID-19 cases and action plans

GOLD STANDARD CERTIFIED TOUR OPERATORS

As with Gold Standard hotels, visitors are advised to review the current list of approved operators at https://belizetourismboard.org/industry-sectors/tourism-gold-standard-tour-operators/. It’s recommended travelers visit the site often for updates, as new operators are added daily. Gold Standard operators:

 

  • Have a “Gold Standard Program Manager” who implements protocols and ensures compliance
  • Conduct non-invasive temperature checks when picking up guests
  • Ensure social distancing protocols for workers and visitors during tours
  • Provide enhanced cleaning and sanitation procedures of tour equipment
  • Have a response plan should there be any suspected cases and training plan for employees to ensure preparedness to manage new protocols

Travelers are required to follow new arrival and departure processes to enter and leave the country, all of which are available on https://www.travelbelize.org/health-safety. As the situation continues to remain fluid, these protocols are subject to change. For questions or concerns, contact the Belize Tourism Board at [email protected].

PLEASE DOWNLOAD THE VIDEO “BELIZE IS OPEN” FROM THE FOLLOWING LINK:

https://belizetourismboard.photoshelter.com/galleries/C0000q1aGKWQpN6E/G0000r2dzLIIIPxo/Belize-IZ-Open-video

If prompted, enter this password: belizeizopen

 

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CTO Partners with Regional, International Agencies for Caribbean Tourism Recovery Forum

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (1 Oct. 2020) – As part of its programme to help the region’s tourism sector rise to the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is teaming up with the world’s leading international tourism agency and other influential regional and international organisations for a critical recovery event for the industry.

The United Nations specialised agency for tourism, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), global market research firm Euromonitor International, independent charity, Travel Foundation, and the University of the West Indies are collaborating with the CTO in presenting the Caribbean Tourism Recovery Forum on 14 and 15 October, 2020. The virtual event will focus on planning and management of the recovery process for the Caribbean.

“From the onset of COVID-19, the CTO has sought expertise to assist our members with immediate, short-term and long-term recovery planning as they navigate the path towards rebuilding the regional tourism sector,” said Neil Walters, the CTO’s acting secretary general.  “Through this forum we are again able to capitalise on our close relations with these reputable organisations to provide insights and analyses about the sector, as well as explore some of the key areas that must be addressed to ensure success in the Caribbean’s tourism recovery process.”

The event also incorporates a capacity building element in the form of a workshop to assist destinations in applying a structured, measurable model to their own national planning.

It will have two distinct segments, with the first segment on 14 October aimed at increasing awareness of steps to planning recovery and improving knowledge of the role of stakeholders in the recovery process. A range of areas will be covered, including the economic impact of COVID-19, travel sentiment and forecast, considerations around a vaccine, best practices for recovery and a model for sustainable tourism post-COVID.

Presenters for this session will include:

  • Caroline Bremner, Head of Travel and Tourism Research at Euromonitor International
  • Professor Clive Landis, Chairman, University of the West Indies COVID-19 Taskforce
  • Alejandro Varela, Deputy Regional Director for the Americas at UNWTO
  • Jeremy Sampson, Chief Executive Officer at The Travel Foundation

This segment is open to CTO members and partners in tourism and related fields and will run from 10:00 AM to 1:15 PM.

The second segment on 15 October will target government members of the CTO for a Smart Recovery planning workshop facilitated by The Travel Foundation.  A unique feature of this workshop is that it combines learning and development, and post-implementation assessment. The programme was developed by the teams at The Travel Foundation and City Nation Place and it has been successfully delivered in a number of other destinations as part of their tourism reopening plan.

Participants will gain in depth knowledge of recovery framework and are expected to complete and assess a recovery plan for their respective destinations.

For more information on the Caribbean Tourism Recovery Forum, including how to register, please visit www.onecaribbean.org.

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