CTO News

Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation Statement on Passing of Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation extends sincere condolences on the passing of Gordon “Butch” Stewart.

Two decades ago, the visionary Jamaican hotelier Butch Stewart brought the Sandals brand to The Bahamas and joined hands with us in building a leading tourism destination.

Today, as we mourn the passing of a global trailblazer in the hospitality industry, we are singularly proud and grateful for the legacy that Butch Stewart has bequeathed to us in The Bahamas. Butch impacted our national economy by directing the crafting of a signature vacation experience — the Sandals vacation — which has become an integral part of the tourism product of The Islands of The Bahamas.

Butch Stewart’s contribution to The Bahamas over the past twenty years has been national in scope and deeply personal to the lives of thousands of our fellow Bahamians who, through employment with the Sandals brands, have built sustainable careers, homes and families. Sandals International continues to impact our local community through ongoing philanthropic outreach.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Butch Stewart, a key partner in our tourism enterprise who has left an indelible mark on the Bahamas’s hospitality sector.  Butch’s vision for hospitality will live on to be enjoyed by future guests at Nassau’s Sandals® Royal Bahamian as well as Sandals® Emerald Bay and Fowl Cay Resort in Exuma,” said Minister of Tourism & Aviation, Dionisio D’Aguilar.

History will record Gordon “Butch” Stewart as a game changer in the delivery of the globally coveted Caribbean vacation product, having elevated the all inclusive resort model to a five star, world class experience.

The prayers of the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation, our hospitality community and fellow Bahamians go out to Butch’s family and the extended Sandals family throughout the Caribbean.

Posted in: 2021 News, Blog, Destination News

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Statement by the Hon Charles H. Fernandez, Minister of Tourism & Investments of Antigua and Barbuda on the passing of Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart

Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart was a Caribbean giant in the tourism industry.

It is often forgotten that, despite his humble beginnings, he competed against the biggest names in tourism to build a successful and respected network of hotels across the Caribbean.

That undertaking was not easy. It required a special person with unique skills and committed drive to successfully overcome the challenges from established institutions, and to carve a universally known brand name.

Butch Stewart was all of that and more.

He was a Jamaican – a land to which he was deeply committed, but he regarded the Caribbean as his wider fraternal community.

Antigua and Barbuda was pleased to welcome one of his first Sandals ventures outside of Jamaica and, without a shred of doubt, the standards he established made a significant contribution to the growth of our tourism.

We join his relatives and the Sandals family across the region in mourning the falling of a true Caribbean champion and hero.

Posted in: 2021 News, Blog, Destination News

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A legacy that will shape future generations – CTO statement on the passing of Gordon “Butch” Stewart

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – 5 Jan. 2021 – It is with great sadness that the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has learned of the death of Jamaican and Caribbean hospitality icon, Gordon “Butch” Stewart. The CTO member countries, allied members and staff join the government and people of Jamaica, the Stewart family, the Sandals family, and the regional and international tourism and hospitality sector in mourning his passing.

Mr. Stewart has been a faithful and passionate servant of Caribbean tourism for four decades and his dedication was fully demonstrated through his many outstanding achievements. His was a virtual lifetime of high performance, devotion to country and the Caribbean and commitment to excellence in the hospitality sector.

To quote his son, Adam, Mr. Stewart was a “gifted entrepreneur,” a “marketing genius,” and “a dreamer who could dream bigger and better than anyone.” There is no greater testament to this than his success as the founder and leader of the world-renowned Sandals and Beaches resort brands, along with the innovations he brought to these brands.

Mr. Stewart was a mentor to many, and his contributions have touched almost every sector of Jamaican and Caribbean society. His passing is a great loss to the entire region. He was a true travel and tourism and business icon and his legacy will shape future generations. ​

Posted in: 2021 News, Blog, Corporate News

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New Year’s Message from CTO Acting Secretary General, Neil Walters

As we look forward to the New Year, 2021, it is very timely that we pause and reflect on the year to which we bid farewell.

Certainly, 2020 was a year which highlighted many of our vulnerabilities, but more importantly, it taught us many lessons about our abilities to adapt in the face of crisis; abilities which I am sure many of us did not even know existed.

The COVID-19 pandemic crippled the economies of several countries, with the most serious effects being felt in small economies and specifically those reliant on travel and the movement of people. Indeed, these two characteristics essentially describe all the countries of the Caribbean, and consequently, from an economic standpoint, the Caribbean has been one of the hardest hit regions in the world.

Fortunately, for the most part, as a region we have been able to control the spread of the virus within our local populations. This has been achieved by the implementation of very stringent control mechanisms which have varied from state to state, and included in most instances, temporary closure of international borders.

By the last quarter of 2020, most of the countries in the Caribbean had reopened their borders and the vast majority of reopened countries had also started accepting commercial travel and visitors to their shores. In all cases, this process has been done within the parameters of protocols designed to complement the health infrastructure of the country.

The stories which depict this process of infection control and reopening of borders in the face of second and third waves of viral spread in our main source markets, speak volumes about the adaptability of our people and specifically about the travel and tourism sector in the Caribbean which has been given no choice, other than to quickly identify, learn and adapt to the changing environment we have experienced over the past 12 months.

We therefore move into 2021 armed with a new set of lessons learnt and with the proof that the Caribbean tourism sector along with its counterpart in public health has the collaborative power to restart, reenergize and rebuild tourism in the Caribbean stronger and more resilient, and ready to face the next challenge.

Experts have indicated, that based on the results of past pandemics in our history, a two-year period of recovery to return to ‘normalcy’ can be expected. Based on that prediction, we can expect ‘normal’ conditions beyond December 2021. Indeed, our concept of ‘normal’ is compounded by the view that the measures we have implemented to control the spread of the virus may stay with us for an indefinite period.

While the pandemic has threatened the Caribbean tourism sector, it has also created the opportunity for us to assess the sector and implement actions which have been difficult during the last twenty to thirty years of mass tourism. The pandemic has identified one critical common factor – the need for change, the need to think outside of the box and identify different ways of doing things. Since the falloff in tourism activity in March 2020, all tourism policy makers, destination management organizations and other tourism stakeholders have spent time critically analyzing and rethinking the way they manage tourism in their individual destinations. This has led to a spirit of greater cooperation and collaboration which was needed in the sector but which has now been clearly shown to be critical to the sector’s future and its success.

All of this has also been mirrored at the regional level, where regional stakeholders in tourism, health and general government have collaborated to create standards for the reopening of the sector and continued to collaborate in the face of an ever-changing regional and extra-regional environment.

During 2021, the programmes of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) will continue the work started in 2020 on research, product development – including heritage and community-based tourism – and human resources development – including a regional tourism sector human resources audit and training. In addition, our collaborative efforts will continue to ensure that the tourism sector works with other sectors such as health to enhance the prospects of the region as we transition to a new paradigm of normalcy.

Our collective efforts to date have positioned the Caribbean, from a global standpoint, in this pandemic, as a region which is healthy and safe for travel. It is a position which we must defend, while we make every effort to improve on the other facets of the visitor experience.

In the New Year message for 2020, we were lauding ourselves for recovering in 2019, after the 2017 hurricanes and for exceeding the world average for tourism growth. While those traditional metrics may paint a different picture this year, we in the Caribbean can still be pleased with our efforts. This time we have proven ourselves leaders, via the collaboration of tourism and public health to create protocols for the reopening of the sector.

We still cannot rest on our laurels, but continue to use the momentum created by our efforts in 2020 and the resilience of our people to rebuild the tourism sector like all other sectors to full functionality again, and buttress it against all future challenges which, although we pray otherwise, are sure to come.

On behalf of the CTO Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism, Board of Directors and the staff of the CTO, I want to say thank you to all of our partners and stakeholders, both regionally and internationally, for your collaborative efforts in 2020, and we look forward to further collaboration in 2021. I wish for us all a year filled with health, blessings, growth, and prosperity for this region we love.

Posted in: 2020 News, Blog, Corporate News

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TTAL hosts ‘Take Me to Tobago Week’ in the UK for travel agents

The Tobago Tourism Agency Limited (TTAL) hosted a week-long experiential training for travel agents in the United Kingdom from December 14 to 18, as part of an ongoing restart and recovery campaign for the destination.

 ‘Take Me to Tobago Week’ was hosted in partnership with Travel Weekly – the most subscribed travel trade publication in the UK. The initiative consisted of a series of immersive videos and virtual tours to boost agents’ knowledge of the destination, while inspiring them to recommend a Tobago holiday to their clients when international travel resumes.

Sheena Des Vignes, Marketing Coordinator at the Tobago Tourism Agency said, “As we head towards the re-opening of borders, educating and updating frontline travel on destination Tobago remains of critical importance. Despite global lock downs, there is still a pent up demand for travel, with the Caribbean region remaining a top choice for 2021.”

Des Vignes also noted that when the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe, consumers began relying even more heavily on the expertise of travel agents to assist them in navigating bookings, understanding travel protocols, and learning different countries’ entry requirements.

“This training initiative is therefore key in our ‘restart and recovery’ plans,” she stated. “We are ensuring that our overseas travel agents are well equipped to confidently recommend Tobago as the Caribbean destination of choice to UK travelers when the time is right.”

The itinerary took travel agents on a virtual journey across undiscovered Tobago, with sunset yoga in Castara, birdwatching in the UNESCO-listed Main Ridge Forest Reserve, as well as culinary demonstrations on farm-to-table hot chocolate and seasonal cocktails.

The virtual event launched with a video message from Louis Lewis, CEO of the Tobago Tourism Agency Limited, who delivered updates on the health protocols implemented by the tourism sector, as well as the strides made in sustainable tourism development on the island.

Addressing the participating travel agents, Mr. Lewis stated, “In Tobago, we have been working hard to prepare for your safe return, and are proud to have the island recognised as a “safe travels” destination by the World Travel and Tourism Council. We’ve also been making some great headway on our greening projects such as Blue Flag and Green Key, and our recent UNESCO Man and the Biosphere designation.

We continue to join hands with our residents, investors and NGOs to implement sustainability initiatives both on land and under water, ensuring that Tobago’s unspoilt natural beauty will be around for all of us to enjoy, for many years to come.”

“Take Me to Tobago Week” culminated on December 18 with an online panel discussion, where travel agents had their destination questions answered by Ms. Des Vignes and Tobago’s overseas representative in the UK, Ms. Nadine Rankin.

The feedback was overwhelmingly positive from the travel professionals who were able to experience a virtual journey to unspoilt Tobago, complemented by a curated box of Tobago branded items and local seasonal treats in order for participants to enjoy a literal “taste” of Tobago.

Travel agent Melissa Hammond stated, “Thank you for the ‘Take me Tobago week’. My favourite session was the cocoa tea making. I am not very creative in the kitchen, so my challenge over my days off at Xmas is to make some with the cocoa from the hamper. The Q & A was also really helpful. I love how safe and friendly the island sounds with so much more to do than I originally thought.”

Travel consultant Jo Mooney added, “I really enjoyed the different approach you took to showcasing the island. I find it hugely easier to sell a destination if you can point out its uniqueness!”

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Posted in: 2020 News, Blog, Destination News

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Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority Wins Platinum Award

The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority has received a second international marketing award for its “Your Space in the Sun” digital marketing campaign, created as part of the destination marketing body’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Presented by the organizers of the international MARCOM Awards, in the category of “Digital Media | Social Media | Social Branding Campaign,” the Tourism Authority received the Platinum award, the highest-level award granted.

The “Your Space in the Sun” campaign was designed to specifically speak to the new desires and needs of travelers. The campaign shows Antigua and Barbuda has the perfect antidote of space and invites people to broaden their horizons and enjoy all the space they need: space to move, space to think, space to be you.

The MARCOM Awards honors excellence in marketing and communications while recognizing the creativity, hard work and generosity of industry professionals. Since its inception in 2004, MarCom has evolved into one of the largest, most-respected creative competitions in the world.

The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority also recently received the Gold Travel Weekly Magellan Award for the same campaign.

As the “Your Space in the Sun” campaign continues to roll-out, the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority is now inviting persons to enter the “Your Space in the Sun” sweepstakes on www.visitantiguabarbuda.com, to win the escape they deserve in 2021 to Antigua and Barbuda, staying at the luxurious, all-inclusive Royalton Antigua Resort and Spa.

ABOUT THE ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA TOURISM AUTHORITY

The Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority is a statutory body dedicated to realizing the tourism potential of Antigua & Barbuda by promoting the twin island state as a unique, quality tourist destination with the overall objective of increasing visitor arrivals thereby providing sustainable economic growth. The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority is headquartered in St. John’s Antigua, where regional marketing is directed.  The Authority has three offices overseas in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada.

ABOUT ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA

Antigua (pronounced An-tee’ga) and Barbuda (Bar-byew’da) is located in the heart of the Caribbean Sea. Voted the World Travel Awards 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 Caribbean’s Most Romantic Destination, the twin-island paradise offers visitors two uniquely distinct experiences, ideal temperatures year-round, a rich history, vibrant culture, exhilarating excursions, award-winning resorts, mouth-watering cuisine and 365 stunning pink and white-sand beaches – one for every day of the year. The largest of the Leeward Islands, Antigua comprises 108-square miles with rich history and spectacular topography that provides a variety of popular sightseeing opportunities. Nelson’s Dockyard, the only remaining example of a Georgian fort a listed UNESCO World Heritage site, is perhaps the most renowned landmark. Antigua’s tourism events calendar includes the prestigious Antigua Sailing Week, Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, and the annual Antigua Carnival; known as the Caribbean’s Greatest Summer Festival. Barbuda, Antigua’s smaller sister island, is the ultimate celebrity hideaway. The island lies 27 miles north-east of Antigua and is just a 15-minute plane ride away. Barbuda is known for its untouched 17 mile stretch of pink sand beach and as the home of the largest Frigate Bird Sanctuary in the Western Hemisphere. Find information on Antigua & Barbuda at: www.visitantiguabarbuda.com or follow us on Twitter. http://twitter.com/antiguabarbuda  Facebook www.facebook.com/antiguabarbuda ; Instagram: www.instagram.com/AntiguaandBarbuda

Posted in: 2020 News, Blog, Destination News

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