CTO News

CTO, Travel Impressions discuss synergies to benefit agents, Caribbean tourism

NEW YORK, NY (13  March , 2017) – Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), and Scott Wiseman, President of Travel Impressions, recently met at Travel Impressions headquarters in New York to discuss ways the two organizations can work together to further education and product offerings for travel agents. They also explored opportunities in which they could jointly promote the region through collaborative initiatives.

“Travel Impressions is one of the nation’s largest leisure tour operators and this partnership aligns well with our B2B goal of increasing awareness and arrivals for Caribbean destinations through TI’s agent-centric commitment,” said Riley, adding: “We are excited to bring this relationship to the next level.”

One of the key cooperative initiatives CTO and Travel Impressions will look at over the next few months will be the creation of enhanced Caribbean training and education programmes for travel agents to help sell more vacations to the CTO’s member-countries.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Corporate News

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CTO and CHTA Statement on CARICOM’s Decision to Advance the Regional Tourism Agenda

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (21 February, 2017)The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the region’s tourism development agency, and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), the umbrella private sector organization, applaud Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government for taking the lead in recognising the critical contribution of tourism to the economies of member countries and for their commitment to advancing a regional tourism agenda.

Following a presentation, prepared in collaboration with the CHTA, and delivered by CTO secretary general Hugh Riley to the Caribbean leaders at their 28th intersessional in Guyana last week, the Heads of Government supported the advancement of a series of steps addressing transportation and the facilitation of travel, human resource development, building the creative industries, and the marketing of the Caribbean brand.  They also invited CTO and CHTA to come forth with additional information to address the region’s competitiveness and financing for the sustainability of tourism.

They called for an urgent meeting of the Council for Trade and Development (COTED)-Transportation to address air transport issues in particular, including those related to the tourism sector; and supported the establishment of an interim tourism working group to coordinate with regional public and private sector stakeholder groups, the development of specific solutions which can be advanced in priority areas.

The group will comprise representation from the CARICOM Secretariat, the CTO and the CHTA and its mandate includes the preparation of a pilot region-wide public relations and marketing initiative for 2017/2018 for presentation to the Heads at their 38th regular meeting in July.

The CARICOM leaders also agreed that public-private sector partnerships, guiding the development and marketing of tourism for the Caribbean, needed to be more effective and requested that the marketing of tourism encompass, in particular, the eco-tourism product of mainland member states of Belize, Guyana and Suriname.

The CHTA and the CTO firmly believe that tourism is a key driver of socio-economic progress, helping destinations and countries to quickly create jobs and businesses, generate tax revenues and support infrastructure improvements to the benefit of residents and visitor. It is a proven tool to lower unemployment, stimulate indigenous entrepreneurial activity, increase foreign exchange earnings, and grow tax revenues for our treasuries.

However, it is a fiercely competitive business, and we are facing the stark reality that we must find ways of maximizing the collective strength of the Caribbean, if any and all of us are to truly succeed.

The support of the leaders is a progressive and positive move and a welcomed commitment towards furthering the development of our people, so that they can take full advantage of the employment, career and entrepreneurial opportunities available through the region’s largest industry.

We wish to thank the leaders for placing tourism on their agenda. We are particularly appreciative to Prime Minister Perry Christie of the Bahamas, who has responsibility for tourism in the CARICOM quasi-Cabinet, Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe and Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell for advancing the proposed initiative at the meeting.

Posted in: 2017 News, Blog, Corporate News, Destination News

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CTO Enters Partnership with OAG to Provide Market Insights

(9 Feb, 2017) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the Caribbean’s tourism development agency, has entered into a marketing partnership with leading air travel data provider OAG to provide members with accurate, timely and actionable insight and analysis to aid decision-making and to spot opportunities in essential markets.

CTO secretary general Hugh Riley (left) and OAG’s Carolina Maitre, head of Florida, Latin America and the Caribbean region

The two organizations signed a cooperation agreement this morning at the CTO’s headquarters in Barbados, which provides for frequency and capacity data for the region, along with commentary on significant changes, to be accessible to CTO members. OAG will also provide CTO members with market reviews highlighting key variances as well as analysis identifying unserved markets and examining air traffic volumes throughout the major gateways serving the region. Members will also be able to access on-time performance data for major airlines and airports.

“The air traffic data aggregated by OAG delivers a comprehensive analysis of regional market dynamics that will be a potent resource for our members. Access to on-time performance data will also be a valuable resource for what is becoming an increasingly important aspect of air travel,” Hugh Riley, the CTO’s secretary general said. “This partnership helps to significantly enhance the value of CTO membership and provides OAG with further exposure throughout the Caribbean, thus extending the reach of this highly respected global brand.”

OAG has the world’s largest network of air travel data including the definitive schedules database of more than 900 airlines and over 4,000 airports. With the most extensive flight status information database in the market, OAG handles approximately 54 million records of flight status updates per year, processes 1.4 billion requests and continues to deliver in excess of 35 million dynamic flight status updates daily.

“There is no doubt that the accurate, timely analysis resulting from this partnership, will allow CTO members to make more informed decisions about their strategies,” said Mike Benjamin, the chief operating officer at OAG. “In partnership, the CTO and OAG are committed to making sure that the organization’s members flourish in the coming years.”

With this new strategic partnership with the CTO, OAG becomes the exclusive provider of schedules, traffic and flight status data.

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Caribbean Tourism Arrivals Hit All-Time High

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (9 Feb. 2017) – Caribbean tourism broke new ground in 2016, surpassing 29 million arrivals for the first time ever, and once again growing faster than the global average.

“Despite political, security and economic uncertainties and challenges in our main source markets, tourist arrivals to the Caribbean increased by 4.2 per cent in 2016, better than the 3.9 per cent overall internationally,” secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) High Riley announced today in presenting the Caribbean Tourism Performance Report 2016.

“Encouragingly, we welcomed over one million more visitors last year than in 2015, to reach 29.3 million, continuing our proud record of continuous growth for the seventh straight year,” he told a news conference held at CTO headquarters, and streamed to a global audience.

Visitor expenditure also hit a new high, growing by an estimated 3.5 per cent to reach  US$35.5 billion.

The United States remained the Caribbean’s primary market with an estimated 14.6 million stay-over arrivals, up 3.5 per cent on 2015.

However, it was Europe that recorded the highest rate of growth among the main source markets, led by strong increases from Germany (8.2 per cent) and the United Kingdom (4.1 per cent).

“Despite terrorist attacks in some countries, the Brexit referendum in the UK and bumpy economic outcomes across continental Europe, arrivals from that market climbed by 11.4 per cent, to reach 5.6 million. The strong European performance was evident by the healthy increases of between six and 16.8 per cent in each month, compared to the corresponding month in 2015,” Mr. Riley said.

Intra- Caribbean travel also so performed well, recording a 3.6 per cent increase – the second straight year of growth – despite costly and fragmented air service.

Canada, normally a robust market for the Caribbean, recorded a decrease for the first time since 1994, and only the second contraction since 1982. The 3.3 million arrivals from that market represented a 3.4 per cent drop when compared to 2015.

The South American market also contracted by 10.6 per cent, mainly due to political instability in two of the main sources.

The CTO secretary general also revealed that cruise arrivals grew at a slower pace of 1.3 per cent to approximately 26.3 million, while the hotel sector recorded negative growth, with all hotel indicators contracting, with the exception of the number of available rooms, which grew by just over one per cent, according to Smith Travel Research.

Regarding the outlook for 2017, the CTO predicts increases of 2.5 and 3.5 per cent in long-stay arrivals and increases of between 1.5 per cent and 2.5 per cent in cruise passenger arrivals.

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CTO Signs MOU with AirBnB

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (7 Feb. 2017) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the region’s tourism development agency, and Airbnb, whose community marketplace provides access to millions of unique accommodations, today signed a landmark agreement to develop a set of policy principles and recommendations on the sharing economy for Caribbean governments and other stakeholders.

Under the agreement, signed at the CTO’s headquarters secretary general and chief executive officer Hugh Riley and Airbnb’s Shawn Sullivan, public policy director for Central America the Caribbean, both organizations will share data and studies with policymakers about the positive impact of the sharing economy in the region; identify ways to make it more inclusive; and broaden the benefits of tourism to non-traditional actors, attract new stakeholders and focus on providing amazing and unique travel and cultural experiences to visitors.

This partnership agreement will also provide to the CTO an economic analysis of Airbnb’s positive impact on local economies. By reviewing Airbnb’s aggregate data, key stakeholders will be briefed on the value of a peer-to-peer review mechanisms, at the same time Caribbean government officials and other stakeholders learn about the long term benefits of the sharing economy and home sharing in particular.

“The CTO is establishing a basis for mutual cooperation with Airbnb. It is important for us to examine all aspects of this important segment of the sharing economy. We believe that by clearly understanding Airbnb’s massive influence in capturing consumers’ interest in unique accommodations we will be in a position to properly advise our members and to allow the Caribbean to achieve the goals of year-round profitability, visitor satisfaction and sustainable tourism development,” Mr. Riley said.

Currently, there are 41 thousand listings across the Caribbean and a typical host in the Caribbean earns approximately US$3,900 per year. Today’s agreement will also help to identify new ways to market the Caribbean as a region: One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean and grow the tourism industry.

“This is an exciting partnership for Airbnb. We look forward to working with the CTO to develop policy recommendations for regional governments and other stakeholders on the sharing economy. The Caribbean is an important and growing market for Airbnb and we expect continued growth there,” Mr. Sullivan said.

With this cooperation agreement, Airbnb will continue promoting tourism and highlighting Caribbean history and culture. The strategy focuses on the diversification of the tourism industry and the expansion of the economic opportunities for the Caribbean people

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CTO Declares 2017 “Year of Adventure” in the Caribbean

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (Jan. 10, 2017) – On the heels of last year’s successful Year of Romance, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has declared 2017 the Year of Adventure in the Caribbean. This year the region will celebrate everything from adrenaline-pumping active pursuits to local culture and casually sampling experiences unique to a specific CTO destination.

“Adventure comes in different degrees for travelers. For some, it is zip lining high above a valley or speeding around a motor racing circuit. For others, an adventure is simply exploring local communities to learn their language and customs, and teasing the senses with new cultural and culinary experiences,” said Hugh Riley, Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer of CTO.

The 2017 Caribbean Year of Adventure will be promoted through social media and traditional media channels and will create opportunities for travelers and vacation planners to share their experiences and ideas of an adventure-filled Caribbean vacation throughout 2017. CTO has adopted the hashtag #CaribbeanAdventure and encourages all member countries and hotels to use the hashtag when posting images via social media networks. While each destination is unique and inviting in its own right, the common denominator of all Caribbean destination vacations is travelers yearning to enjoy a Caribbean Adventure – no matter how laid-back or thrilling the activity may be.

Through the campaign, CTO and its member countries and hotels will highlight the Caribbean as the leading choice for a vacation filled with adventure for consumers and travel planners selling the region. The theme is designed as a catalyst for sellers and promoters of group travel, family adventure and friend-cations, as well as weddings and honeymoons. Visitors too, will be invited to submit thoughts on their most memorable Caribbean adventures.

 “With a variety of destinations to discover, the Caribbean provides the ultimate vacation playground highlighted by picture-perfect landscapes and ideal weather for an abundance of land and water activities,” said Riley. “The Year of Adventure will highlight the range of activities offered throughout the Caribbean. It’s a theme which can easily be embraced by all CTO member destinations 365 days a year,” Riley noted.

Throughout 2017, the CTO, in cooperation with its private sector partner the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), will assist member countries and hotels with an assortment of ideas which can be implemented around the theme of adventure to appeal to consumers, travel agents and tour operators. Initiatives will be developed around:

 ·     “Once-in-a-Lifetime” getaways (volcano discoveries, helicopter tours, etc.)

·     “There’s a first time for everything” vacations (zip lining, scuba diving, go-kart racing, etc.)

·     Family and “Friends-cation” discovery journeys (whale watching, swimming with dolphins, world-heritage site explorations, etc.)

·     Wellness adventures (Paddle Board Yoga, Aqua Parkour, Tai Chi, etc.)

·     Dine-around delicacy vacations focusing on unique food offerings

Tours can often conveniently be arranged at a resort’s on-property tour desk. Licensed and insured on-island tour companies bring travelers beyond their resort and into the heart of the destination where guests can immerse themselves in parasailing, snorkeling and kayaking; zip line adventures; fishing charters; dolphin and whale watching; horseback riding along the beach; helicopter tours; swimming with dolphins; volcano discoveries; sailing expeditions; rain forest hikes; island exploring; tasting rich flavors and rum factory tours; celebrating Caribbean festivals, perhaps in full costume; and much more.

“We anticipate that in addition to the ideas we provide our members, the countries and hotels will develop their own plan of action for promoting adventure in their individual destinations,” said Riley adding: “The theme is inclusive of a wide range of partners, activities, age ranges and tastes. Ultimately, the aim is for our visitors to have fun with this. The Caribbean is proud of its diversity of exciting experiences and we encourage visitors to explore their own sense of adventure when they visit our shores.”

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