CTO News

Caribbean’s Tourism Growth Rate More Than Double Global Average

LONDON, UK (6 Nov. 2019) – Tourist arrivals to the Caribbean increased by a solid 9.7 per cent during the first half of 2019, when compared to the same period last year, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) revealed today.

Addressing the media at a news conference at World Travel Market this morning, the CTO’s chairman, Dominic Fedee, said this performance was more than double the global average of 4.4 per cent.

Between January and June this year, there were 17.1 million tourist trips to the Caribbean, 1.5 million more than the corresponding period in 2018. The foundation of this performance was a strong United States market, which grew by 20.2 per cent, totalling a first half record of 8.9 million overnight international tourists. During the same period, some 2.1 million Canadian tourists stayed in the region, a 2.4 per cent rise when compared to the same period last year.

However, the European market was flat, registering a marginal 0.4 per cent increase to 2.9 million trips, with the UK market down by 1.7 per cent, mainly due to significant declines in Cuba, which fell by 22 per cent, and the Dominican Republic, down by 15.3 per cent.

The strong results recorded in the first half reflect the resilience of individual destinations and demonstrate their ability to skillfully navigate global political and economic concerns, including Brexit and the ongoing trade wars which threaten the stability of the global economy.

Several factors supported the gains made so far including increased air capacity between the region and major sources, expansions in the accommodation sector and the positive positioning of the destinations’ brands in the various source markets.

As it relates to cruise, the demand for the Caribbean was so strong in the first six months of 2019, that there was a record 16.7 million cruise visits, 1.3 million more than in the same period of 2018. The present rate of growth estimated to be 8.1 per cent eclipsed that for similar periods in the last four years.

Looking forward to the remainder of this year, based on current trends, and considering the various global issues including Brexit and trade wars, the CTO forecast an increase of between five and seven per cent in stayover arrivals and four to five per cent rise in cruise passenger visits.

Posted in: 2019 News, ITB & WTM

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Puerto Rico Invites Muralists to Showcase Their Work with Local Street Artists

San Juan, Puerto Rico, October 29, 2019 – In partnership with Puerto Rico’s local art community, Discover Puerto Rico, the Island’s Destination Marketing Organization (DMO), today launched the “Blank Canvas Initiative,” a call to street artists around the world, inviting them to share their craft on the walls of Puerto Rico’s streets, and form part of the Island’s unique and booming arts scene. Puerto Rico boasts exceptional art museums, a flourishing art gallery scene, independent collectors, curators, quality events and highly skilled artisans, offering their work across the Island, and a thriving street art and mural experience unlike any other. For travelers who crave and seek out cultural arts and authentic experiences, Puerto Rico should top their list.

Internationally recognized Puerto Rican artist, Alexis Bousquet, also the founder of the Santurce es Ley street art festival, is teaming up with local artists Celso González, Vero Rivera and Bob Snow. Together, they are joining forces to identify wall spaces throughout Puerto Rico, including the well-known Santurce neighborhood in San Juan, to create “Reserved for” signs, which will serve as larger-than-life blank canvas invitations for global street artists around the world, to feature their art alongside Puerto Rico’s very own.

The new artwork from the “Blank Canvas Initiative” will be showcased just in time for Puerto Rico’s most festive season – the holidays – also renowned as the longest in the world. The holidays in Puerto Rico are like no other, and culminate with the Calles de San Sebastian festival, the largest festival in Puerto Rico where thousands of locals and visitors alike gather to experience parades of cabezudos (big heads), live music, dancing, libations, food, and hundreds of authentic crafts by local artisans. The new murals will also be a focal point during upcoming “Santurce es Ley” street art festivals, which celebrate the thriving mural scene and stunning works in the area, approaching its eighth anniversary, where works are being created and unveiled live.

“Some areas of Puerto Rico are a true haven for mural art, yet we’re not a destination typically visited for that,” said Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico. “In addition to Santurce es Ley, our Island offers many options for travelers looking for rich arts and culture to be inspired – from our artisan’s work, widely available throughout the Island, to museums and art galleries open year-round, and other art-focused events like the MECA Art Fair – our Island is a culture lovers’ delight for anyone seeking to immerse themselves in authentic experiences and everything Puerto Rico has to offer.”

“As artists, we believe in expression, and I hope that my fellow artists around the world see this opportunity to express themselves while being a force for good,” said Alexis Bousquet, founder of Santurce es Ley. “We welcome them to our Island, to take part in our booming art scene and to explore a place that will surely capture their hearts.”

Puerto Rico’s existing art culture sets it apart from other Caribbean destinations. The unique blend of Taino Indian, African and Spanish heritages makes the art scene across the Island one-of-a-kind with a cultural DNA unlike any other. The Island has more than 70 museums and 50 art galleries that contain works ranging from ancient Indigenous and African, to Baroque and Victorian, and contemporary works of art.

As a lead up to the holiday season and the “Santurce es Ley” festivals, Puerto Rico hosts the annual MECA Art Fair from November 21 through 24 – the largest in the Caribbean, which brings together a variety of talent that ranges beyond traditional canvas works, to sculptures and beyond.

The modern-day art boom sits alongside the Island’s distinguished and diverse architecture that dates to the 1500’s, as the first settlement in the New World. Most notably, the city of Old San Juan, which houses the Spanish colonial settlement and various UNESCO World Heritage Sites, will be celebrating its 500th anniversary in 2021, with celebrations and events beginning in 2020.

Beyond its arts scene and rich, historic culture, Puerto Rico is on a path towards a record-breaking year for tourism, with growing visitor arrivals and air lift globally. In addition to world-class beaches, the Island boasts an impressive variety of natural offerings including three of the world’s five bioluminescent bays, the only rainforest in the U.S. forest system, El Yunque, and a standout farm-to-table movement, which has evolved into a variety of agritourism experiences for travelers to enjoy.

For global artists interested in joining the “Blank Canvas Initiative,” Discover Puerto Rico welcomes them to contact [email protected]. For more information about Puerto Rico, visit: DiscoverPuertoRico.com.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Destination News

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New Today from WTM 2019 – The Caribbean at Work

A very good year for the Cayman Islands, with arrivals in September climbing 20 per cent over last September, says Adrian White, regional manager for the UK/Europe

Another new hotel coming to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, some exciting developments and growing tourism in a sustainable manner are some of the topics discussed by CEO of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority, Glen Beache, in this interview.

Dominica’s thrust towards high-end tourism and the celebration of its creole heritage, are some of the subjects discussed by Colin Piper, the CEO of Discover Dominica Authority, in this WTM interview.

Breaking News! Grand Bahama is open for business, says Joy Jibrilu, director general of tourism for the Bahamas, in this interview during which she reflects the plight and pain of the people of Abaco and Grand Bahama in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, but emphasises the importance of continuing to visit the 14 other islands (now 15 with Grand Bahama now approximately 80 per cent up to speed).

Leah Chandler, the chief marketing officer for Discover Puerto Rico, explains the destination’s rapid recovery from Hurricane Irma two years ago, and some of the exciting initiatives that are paying dividends.

Nicola Balram, senior marketing officer at the Guyana Tourism Authority, explains why Guyana is becoming a major tourism player

A new airport terminal, a new airline deal and Tobago is making up for the loss of seats due to the collapse of Thomas Cook, are some of the topics discussed by chief secretary, Kelvin Charles, in this interview

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, ITB & WTM

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Global Tourism Resilience Centre Provides Relief for Bahamas – Bartlett

LONDON, United Kingdom – November 4, 2019: Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett today handed over US$50 thousand to Director General of the Bahamas Tourism and Aviation Ministry, Mrs. Joy Jibrilu at the second Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre (GTRCM) Board of Governors Meeting in London today.

The money, forms part of the overall relief fund established by the GTRCM to support tourism-ravaged economies impacted by disruptions such as natural disasters and pandemics.

Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 storm, hit the Bahamas last month as one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes to make landfall. The storm caused widespread flooding and destruction.

“This donation symbolizes the Centre’s commitment to assisting tourism dependent states that are vulnerable to disruptions to recover and rebound. Two islands of the Bahamas suffered much damage from the passage of hurricane Dorian and still needs support to rebuild and this contribution will go towards that,” said Minister Bartlett.

In collaboration with the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), the GTRCM is providing US$100,000 in support of the tourism ravaged economies of the Bahamas and other areas in the Caribbean that may be impacted in the future. The JHTA has contributed US$20,000 to assist in relief efforts through the United Nations World Tourism Organization and the GTRCM.

In accepting the donation, Director General, Mrs. Jibrilu said “On behalf of the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation and Government of the Bahamas, I am pleased to accept this contribution which will help with our recovery and rebuilding efforts. This show of support is deeply appreciated and shows the importance of collaboration on issues of disaster and crisis management.”

The fund will also go towards the commissioning of a baseline study to assess the vulnerabilities of the Caribbean to major disruptions such as hurricanes, pandemics and epidemics and building capacity to deal with them.

“Global trends show that given the dynamic and devastating nature of these disruptions, building resilience to predict, manage and recover from these disruptions has become even more critical and that is what the GTRCM has been established to do,” added Minister Bartlett.

The Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre’s mission includes assisting global tourism destinations with destination preparedness, management and recovery from disruptions and/or crises that affect tourism and threaten economies and livelihoods globally.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Destination News

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Statement by Neil Walters, Secretary General(Ag) on the Launch of Caribbean Tourism Month 2019


Friday 1 November, 2019 – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) joins the region in celebrating Caribbean Tourism Month as we reaffirm the value of “One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean.”

As we continue to observe 2019 as the Caribbean Year of Festivals, we celebrate both the unique distinctions of our region and the many features that bind us together. The unique rhythm and tempo of each CTO destination is reflected best in the music, art, sailing, lights, food, rum, religious, literary, dance and the many other festivals celebrated throughout the region. Unquestionably, there is a festival to commemorate each element of the cultures and heritages which personify the region.

The unique characteristics, diverse backgrounds, and traditions that enrich the Caribbean’s cultural tapestry create enchanting and magnificent sights and experiences for us, the people of the Caribbean, as well as our visitors.

The dynamic spirit of the people of the Caribbean comes to life in an unmatched array of diverse festivals which energise communities and entice visitors to come and immerse themselves in the wonderful blend of culture, beauty and warmth that define us.

While these festivals are of great significance to the people of the Caribbean, they have also become a signature feature of the region’s tourism product, capturing the attention of the millions of visitors attracted to our shores. No doubt, many of the 17.1 million tourist visits to the Caribbean during the first half of this year were influenced by festivals. Therefore, as we seek to grow our arrival numbers and tourist spend, these events will continue to be integral to our planning. Critical to this will be maximising resources while minimising waste by developing a model which emphasises environmental preservation, maintains economic viability and prioritises cultural considerations.

The CTO encourages all our member countries and partners to organise some form of activity in observance of Caribbean Tourism Month and to share your events with us so that we can help tell your story to the world. We also encourage everyone to participate in our social media campaign during these next 30 days.

I wish everyone a successful and exciting Caribbean Tourism Month.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Caribbean Tourism Month

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Barbados Enjoys Major European Expansion

Barbados has expanded its reach in Germany with a new thrice-weekly direct flight from Frankfurt to the Grantley Adams International Airport. The inaugural Eurowings Flight LH 5432 of the Lufthansa Group, landed in Barbados on Monday, October 28, 2019 at 3:10 p.m. This new direct flight will run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays using an A330 aircraft which seats up to 330 passengers with this service operating until April 2020.

The delegation, flying down on the inaugural, was led by Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Hon. Kerrie Symmonds and included Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, Ms. Donna Cadogan and Director BTMI Europe, Anita Nightingale. Lufthansa was represented by Gabriela Ahrens, Senior Director of Leisure Sales and Corinna Suck, Sales Manager. The celebrations commenced at Frankfurt airport with a musical performance by the famous calypsonian Mighty Gabby and there was a ribbon cutting at the gate before boarding.

To commemorate this occasion, the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) created a celebratory ambience as the aircraft made its first touchdown on Barbadian soil. The flight was welcomed by two water cannons and the delegation was received by Chairman, BTMI, Sunil Chatrani, CEO, BTMI, William ‘Billy’ Griffith, Chaiman, GAIA, Vic Fernandes, Acting CEO,

GAIA, Terry Layne, Hon. Consul Mrs. Regine Sixt, Chairman, BHTA, Stephen Austin, CEO, BHTA, Senator Rudy Grant, Senior Director Mexico, Central America & Caribbean Lufthansa Group, Felipe Bonifatti.

While addressing Lufthansa officials and representatives within the tourism sector, Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Kerrie Symmonds said, “I want Lufthansa to understand that Barbados’ airport will be a place which benefits you and us from the prospective of doing trans-shipment to Europe and also shipment of local commodities.” Mention was also made to partnering and code sharing with other airlines such as Austrian Airlines, another member of the Lufthansa group.

Minister Symmonds also stated, “We have managed to secure this concrete arrangement to bring about a bilateral air services agreement between Barbados and the Federal Republic of Germany in about two or three weeks. This particular agreement had been languishing at the discussion stage since 1993.”

CEO of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI), William ‘Billy’ Griffith, said that the BTMI will be looking to capitalise on the extra seats the partnership will bring. “With the addition of some 900-plus seats per week, we will be more aggressive than ever in working with our tour operator partners, local groups such as the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association and Intimate Hotels of Barbados, as well as in our traditional and digital marketing efforts.

He added that the BTMI will be working closely with the Lufthansa Group on co-op marketing plans to ensure the success of the new service.

Posted in: 2019 News, Blog, Destination News

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