CTO News

Immersive Technology-driven Experience Slated for SOTIC

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (11 Sept. 2018) – The opening day of the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s (CTO) State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) centres on the “Recreate” theme with discussions focused on innovation, business development and building better. The conversation will transcend physical infrastructure to examine an entire immersive experience that is driven by technology among other factors.

“The Caribbean must examine and utilize new technologies designed to upgrade and enhance the region’s tourism product in order to be competitive on a global scale,” said Sylma Brown, the head of the CTO’s New York office, which oversees the conference. “The first day of the State of the Tourism Industry Conference will challenge previous notions with innovative ideas for redesigning business operations and infrastructure to optimize the guest experience within each destination, resort, guesthouse, attraction and cultural event,” she added.

Scheduled for 2-5 Oct. 2018 at Atlantis, Paradise Island in The Bahamas, general SOTIC sessions start on 3 Oct. and will be anchored by Puerto Rico-born Santana Rodriguez, television producer and former news personality at Crown City News in Pasadena who also served as entertainment host and morning news reporter at KLEO Television in Hollywood, California.

The first general session, “Building Better,” aims to guide the development of regional infrastructure and product evolution while influencing the enhancement of the Caribbean’s unmistakably infectious brand. There will be a sharp focus on the critical priority areas that are necessary to build better, including financing, design and execution, and best practices that take into consideration the practical realities of physical infrastructure.

Panellists include Hugh Riley, the CTO’s secretary general; Tom Hook, the North American director of planning and landscape at B+H Architects; General Russel Honore, a retired U.S. military officer who led the department of defense response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana; and Jena Tesse Fox, a writer and editor for Questex Media’s Hotel Management and Hotel Design magazines.

Moderated by Dr. Deborah Hickling-Gordon, Principal Consultant, Ink and Vision, Ltd., the second general session, “Commoditization Without Exploitation,” will examine the critical factors which catalyze the misuse and overuse of the Caribbean’s intrinsic resources for tourist consumption, as well as explore feasible opportunities to maximize the Caribbean’s marine, cultural and heritage treasures to enhance the tourism product without exploiting the region’s inherent wealth. The panel will feature Gregory Bethel, senior economist at the department of marine resources of The Bahamas; Dr. Marcia Burrowes, lecturer in cultural studies at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill campus; and Senator Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson, president of the Caribbean Congress of Labour.

A general session on “Modernizing the Experience: Using Technology to Enhance the Visitor Experience” will analyze how rapidly developing technology is forcing every sector of the industry to shift their approach and define their own experience utilizing mobile technologies and virtual reality to set themselves apart. From airports becoming more memorable and enjoyable with facilities to shop without checkout systems to hotels adopting customer-centric models, this session will feature some of the best examples of how governments and brands are using technology to move beyond the ordinary.

Travel industry veteran Noreen Henry, who has over 25 years leveraging innovative technologies and who served as chief executive officer of WayBlazer, an artificial intelligence travel technology start-up, is a speaker on the panel. She will be joined by Kristie Powell, a former senior technical advisor at Google and the co-founder and chief executive Founder, Coral, a software development startup transforming the B2B market in the Caribbean; and Ed Limon, a Toronto-based filmmaker, producer and virtual reality expert.

Caribbean tourism practitioners, policymakers, travel professionals and strategic partners from the public and private sectors throughout the region and internationally participate each year in SOTIC, organized this year by the CTO in collaboration with the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. The conference will be preceded by business meetings on 1 – 2 Oct.

Sponsorship opportunities and details are available from CTO at 212-635-9530 or via http://sotic.onecaribbean.org/sponsor.

For further details on the conference, including how to register, please visit http://sotic.onecaribbean.org/.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, SOTIC

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Sun Country Airlines Announces New Nonstop Service to Belize, St. Kitts & Nevis

Minneapolis, Minn. – September 5, 2018 – Sun Country Airlines today announces the addition of two new destinations – Belize and St. Kitts & Nevis – to its growing network. Sun Country will offer the first ever seasonal nonstop service between Minneapolis/St. Paul and Belize, and between Minneapolis/St. Paul and St. Kitts and Nevis. Both destinations are on sale now at suncountry.com

“At Sun Country, we pride ourselves on delivering fantastic value to our guests, connecting them to their favorite people, places and memories. Belize and St. Kitts and Nevis are amazing beach destinations that we have no doubt Minnesotans will be excited to flock to in the winter,” said Ben Brookman, the vice president, network and pricing of Sun Country Airlines. “We are pleased to be the first airline to offer scheduled nonstop service from MSP to these two great destinations, and look forward to offering Minnesotans affordable nonstop service to even more vacation hot spots.”

“Sun Country’s new nonstop flight from Minneapolis to Belize City marks our farthest reach into the Upper Midwest — an area of the U.S. that can really benefit from easy access to a tropical Belizean vacation when winter comes,” said Karen Bevans, Director of Tourism for Belize. “We appreciate Sun Country for further supporting our thriving tourism industry and providing more curious travelers with seamless opportunities to escape to Belize.”

“We are extremely pleased to welcome this new air service from Sun Country Airlines,” said the Hon. Mr. Lindsay F.P. Grant, Minister of Tourism, International Trade, Industry and Commerce for St. Kitts & Nevis. “This flight from Minneapolis increases the number of nonstop flights into the Federation from the US, our primary source market for visitors. Further, the additional lift from the upper mid-west provides more options for travelers to reach our twin islands during peak season.”

New seasonal nonstop from Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) to Belize Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (BZE):

  • Service offered December 22, 2018 – April 20, 2019
  • Operates 1x/week with roundtrips on Saturdays

New seasonal nonstop service from Minneapolis/St. Paul (MSP) to St. Kitts & Nevis Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport (SKB):

  • Service offered December 22, 2018 – April 20, 2019
  • Operates 1x/week with roundtrips on Saturday

For the lowest fares, full schedule, Sun Country Vacations® flight and hotel packages visit suncountry.com.

About Sun Country Airlines

Sun Country Airlines is a privately-held company based in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul. The award-winning airline is a leader in leisure travel flying to more than 50 popular destinations across the U.S., Mexico, Costa Rica and the Caribbean, having earned a reputation for offering world-class service at an affordable price. The airline also offers services from its Sun Country Charters and Sun Country Vacations divisions. For more on these Sun Country destinations and to book travel, including flight and hotel packages, visit suncountry.com.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Destination News

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British Virgin Islands Continue to Achieve Recovery Milestones

TORTOLA, BVI — When Hurricane Irma tore through the Caribbean last September, it made a particularly harsh impact on the spectacular shores that 30,000 of my fellow BVIslanders and I call home.

But one year later, I am pleased to say that the Herculean efforts put forth by the local community, international volunteers and the BVI government have paid off. The beaches have been cleaned up, roads cleared, and visitors are flocking into the territory once again.

As the largest sector of the economy, restoring the BVI’s tourism product was a huge priority during the immediate aftermath of the storm. There is still work to be done, but we at the BVI Tourist Board are proud to recognize the progress made over the past year. The BVI Reborn video gives a glimpse into the progress of our recovery.

The charter yacht and sailing industry was the first to rebound, with some operators accepting guests as soon as November 2017 to jumpstart the winter season. Cruise calls resumed at Tortola Pier Park the following month, bringing in thousands more visitors. Disney Cruise Line made its return just days ago to much fanfare, and Norwegian Cruise Line will follow in Fall 2018. We are expecting a remarkable 2018/2019 cruise season with projections of over 200 calls and 400,000 passengers at Tortola Pier Park and Road Harbour alone.  Additionally, we expect over 50 calls by the smaller boutique ships, to other islands including; Anegada, Jost Van Dyke and Virgin Gorda, demonstrating the diversity of our destination to accommodate cruise visitors.

To date, many of the BVI’s premier resorts have come back online as well. This includes: Scrub Island Resort & Spa, Cooper Island Beach Club, Guana Island Resort, Oil Nut Bay, Anegada Beach Club, and more. Visitors will enjoy enhanced offerings at several of these properties, including an expanded private beach at Scrub Island, and brand-new glamping accommodations at Anegada Beach Club. In fact, Anegada has emerged as a must-visit island thanks to its unique attractions like world-class kitesurfing, amazing conch shell mounds and iconic bright pink flamingos. The only coral island in the group, Anegada boasts the Caribbean’s third largest barrier reef, the Horseshoe Reef.

Oil Nut Bay has significantly upgraded its facilities, and this December, will be offering stunning new one-bedroom suites with nightly availability. A marina village with 93 slips that can accommodate yachts up to 40 meters, will also be opened in December.  The resort’s helipad which facilitates air arrivals along with the new facilities, will now give guests the freedom to explore neighboring islands, embarking by boat or helicopter, with ease.

As of August 15, there are 769 rooms on land and 2,930 berths available throughout the Territory. By winter season, that number will rise to over 1,000 rooms and 3,200 berths. Necker Island is scheduled to reopen on October 1st, with several of our luxury properties to follow in late 2019 including Bitter End Yacht Club and Rosewood Little Dix Bay.

Traveling to the BVI has never been easier. We have regained full capacity in terms of airlift and ferry service, with some airlines even expanding service between San Juan and Tortola.

Over the past several months, we have hosted major events like the annual BVI Spring Regatta and the Emancipation Festival, a celebration that highlighted our culture and resilience. This November, BVI Food Fete will return with a fantastic lineup of culinary events.

As we reflect on the lessons learned from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the BVI recognizes the need to plan for the future. The government successfully restored 100% of power across all of our islands by May 2018, while continuing efforts to strengthen our infrastructure in anticipation of future storms. Click here for information on the Virgin Islands Recovery and Development Act.

There is also a new Disaster Alert App launched by the BVI Department of Disaster Management to improve disaster alert notifications for our residents and guests.

For those looking to offer their support to the BVI, the most vital way to help — as always — is by booking a trip and patronizing our local hotels and businesses. The Tourist Board will also continue running the Seeds of Love program to replant the islands’ indigenous trees and vegetation in Tortola, Virgin Gorda and other islands. Donations can be made here.

General donations for the territory are still welcome through the BVI Recovery Fund.

The BVI is grateful to all of the volunteers and “voluntourists” who have devoted time and energy to our recovery. We thank everyone for their passionate support, as the British Virgin Islands continue to progress, and we look forward to providing ongoing updates on the status of our cherished islands.

On September 6, the BVI Government will hold a “Service of Thanksgiving, Reflection and Restoration” on Tortola, while an interdenominational prayer service will be held on Virgin Gorda, recognizing our “Journey to Healing.”  #BVILove

About the British Virgin Islands

Known as a treasured destination rich in undiscovered experiences, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) is an alluring archipelago comprising 60 islands and cays located 80 kilometers (60 miles) east of Puerto Rico, in the northwestern region of the Caribbean Sea. The main islands of Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Jost Van Dyke have attracted travelers globally with their cultural Caribbean authenticity. Located in Tortola, Road Town is the BVI’s capital.

Ranked #1 Best Place to Visit in the Caribbean by U.S. News for two consecutive years in 2017 and 2018, the BVI is where nature’s best secrets are kept with an abundance of pristine beaches, azure seas, towering sage mountains and burnt-orange sunsets. It’s no wonder the BVI’s Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke were featured on the “Top Islands in the Caribbean, Bermuda and the Bahamas” list in Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Awards 2017 and 2018.

Despite its status as a United Kingdom territory, the BVI uses the U.S. dollar as its official currency.

The BVI Tourist Board invites everyone to experience the tropical mystique of the country’s unparalleled and enriching offerings. For more information, visit www.bvitourism.com.

Posted in: 2018 News, Caribbean Recovery, Destination News

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New flights from Air Antilles add 2016 additional seats into the Nature Island

Roseau, Dominica – (August 29, 2018) The Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Air Access Committee of Discover Dominica Authority have successfully negotiated an additional 2016 seats into the destination from two new flights added by Air Antilles.  The flights will commence on November 1, 2018, departing Pointe-a-Pitre (PTP) at 9pm to arrive in Dominica at 9:30pm on Thursdays and Sundays.  The aircraft will overnight in Dominica and depart the next mornings (Fridays and Mondays) at 5:30am to reach Pointe-a Pitre at 6:00am.  The flights will terminate for the season on March 29, 2019.

During this period, a total of forty two (42) flights will operate on the ATR 42 with capacity of 48 passengers, allowing for movement of up to 2016 in and 2016 out of Dominica.  These flights allow travelers to connect from the following international flights:

  • Norwegian: from JFK, New York
  • Air France: from Paris Orly
  • Air Caraibes: from Paris Orly
  • Corsair: from Paris Orly
  • Level: from Paris Charles de Gaulle
  • XL Airways: from Paris Charles de Gaulle

With the introduction of this new service, travelers to Dominica will benefit by having same day connections and also from a cost standpoint.  Travelers will have same day access from JFK into Dominica via connections with the low cost carrier Norwegian Airlines and similarly same day connections from Europe and especially France at reasonable rates from airlines departing from Paris Orly.

Tour Operators, travel agents and consumers will have visibility of these flight in the Global Distribution System (GDS) and on popular online travel agent sites allowing for a myriad of ways to book your adventure to Dominica.  Furthermore Air France will offer a code share with Air Antilles on these flights allowing for greater visibility of the flights on the Air France website and network and offering travelers additional benefits of that code share arrangement.

According to Colin Piper, Director of Tourism, “while there are a number of ways to get to Dominica these flights were planned to offer connections to Norwegian to take advantage of their lower fares, and also to provide alternatives and convenience in same day access to travelers from Europe and the US to get to Dominica.”

Leisure visitors as well as Dominicans residing abroad are expected to take advantage of this new service when planning their travels to the Nature Isle.

For more information on Dominica, contact Discover Dominica Authority at 767 448 2045. Or, visit Dominica’s official website: www.DiscoverDominica.com, see Dominica’s updates on the tourism sector post Hurricane Maria: www.dominicaupdate.com, follow Dominica on Twitter and Facebook and take a look at our videos on YouTube.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Destination News

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BAHAMAS REVEALS STRONG POSITIVE TRENDS IN INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS

NASSAU, Bahamas (Aug 16, 2018) – International arrivals in The Bahamas show a solid growth of +10.2 percent year-to-date, maintaining the tourism turnaround that began in October of 2017. The growth trend is driven by strong performance from the U.S. but a 29.6 percent increase through July in arrivals from Canada is also contributing to the overall growth story. The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation restarted robust marketing and communications efforts in North America telling The Bahamas travel story to consumers by bringing travel journalists and digital influencers to the country, and using strategic content and digital amplification to reach travel decision makers. The Ministry is already underway with the marketing program for 2018-19 and anticipates continued business growth supported by this work.

“We have seen very good news and gratifying results across major Bahamian tourism sectors in recent months and are very encouraged. Using our new tracking tools, we have seen double-digit increases in international arrivals and strong business on the books for future months. Lynden Pindling International Airport has reported historic arrival numbers for the country’s premier airport facility. Browse Nassau hotels on Trip Advisor for this coming weekend and you may see that most of the hotels are projected to sell out soon and we are seeing very strong occupancy rates. These outcomes are validation of the marketing and communications work we have been doing,” said Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar, Minister of Tourism and Aviation.

A new communications program is underway for the 2018-19 fiscal year and writers and influencers from the U.S. will arrive within days to kick off a new cycle of Bahamas storytelling. Writers from major publications including Good Housekeeping, Essence and Red Tricycle will visit The Abacos next week to capture the island-hopping and family travel options there. Grand Bahama Island will host a select group of influencers for an itinerary specially curated to develop visual stories to showcase the water, beaches and local heritage of the island for important platforms like Instagram. Development of a late fall trip to Cat Island is underway, along with ongoing outreach to media to promote fall travel offers and events, and to support several new American Airlines flights into the destination.

The Ministry of Tourism is also deploying advertising across a variety of broadcast, digital and out-of-home channels in key markets, raising awareness of the destination. An ambitious content marketing program complements this traditional advertising with the goal of inspiring consumers to explore more islands across the country.

The Ministry of Tourism expects tourism growth to continue as bookings are up 6.7 percent over the August to October period and show a 10 percent increase for the final two months of 2018.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Destination News

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Grenada Wins Cruise Critic’s 2018 Destination Award

St. George’s, Grenada – August 20, 2018 – The numbers are in and the three-island destination of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique was named a Top-Rated Southern Caribbean Cruise Destination in Cruise Critic’s third annual Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards. The award is based entirely on consumer ratings submitted with reviews on CruiseCritic.com and as a destination awarded in this category, Grenada received high ratings among cruisers who visited the island in the past year.

“On behalf of Pure Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, we are truly humbled by this award and thrilled to be named a top destination for cruisers,” said Patricia Maher, CEO of Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA). “To be recognized by our visitors is a remarkable honor and one that we do not take for granted. So far in 2018, growth in our cruise sector is trending upward and we will continue to work on elevating the product and experiences, to exceed expectations and keep Grenada top-of-mind with visitors to our shores.”

“Our data regularly shows that whether you’re a first-time cruiser or you’ve sailed dozens of times, destination is a top consideration when shopping for a cruise,” explains Colleen McDaniel, Senior Executive Editor of Cruise Critic. “While tropical destinations will always be popular among cruisers, what’s really exciting to see is the rise in esteem of destinations more known for their immersive and experiential offerings.”

Cruise Critic®, the world’s leading cruise reviews site and online cruise community, boasts the largest online cruise community, with more than 350,000 cruise reviews, covering approximately 500 cruise ships and over 300 worldwide ports.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Destination News

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