CTO News

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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CARPHA Concludes Risk of Getting Zika in the Caribbean Low at this Time

Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, August 13, 2018:  The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has concluded that Zika virus transmission in the Caribbean Region has been interrupted, and that the risk to residents and visitors to the Region of acquiring Zika is low. This follows a review by CARPHA of the data of the last 30 months pertinent to the situation.

Zika Virus (ZIKV) was first detected in the Caribbean Region in late 2015. The number of cases increased in the first half of 2016 and reached its peak circulation in August 2016, and then declined rapidly by December 2016.

Before, during and after the introduction of the virus, CARPHA has been conducting surveillance and laboratory testing activity for ZIKV and has worked assiduously with its 26 CARPHA Member States (CMS) and partners to strengthen the ability to detect and diagnose cases; to enhance the capacity to reduce transmission of this and other vector-borne diseases; and to improve coordination and use of information for prevention.

At this time, ongoing surveillance and laboratory testing in CMS indicate that the epidemic circulation of ZIKV has been interrupted in Caribbean territories. This is based on congruency of data available from several sources and on experience of previous outbreaks of mosquito-borne viral diseases in the Region:

  • Local surveillance in Member States has demonstrated both a decrease in general fever-related illness as well as a specific absence of ZIKV reports over the past year.
  • CARPHA Regional Laboratory continues to test samples for mosquito-borne disease, including ZIKV, Dengue virus (DENV) and Chikungunya virus (CHIKV). These tests have shown the drastic decrease from the peak of ZIKV circulation in 2016 to a situation where no cases of ZIKV have been confirmed among samples received from any CMS over the past 12 months
  • CARPHA has reached out to international public health agencies, including the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the European Centres for Disease Control (eCDC), for information on cases of ZIKV in travelers returning from the Caribbean to Canada and Europe respectively. The data shared indicate a similar pattern to that seen in our regional data – a drastic decrease from a high-point in 2016, to sporadic cases in the immediate aftermath and no cases this year.

CARPHA advises that there is still a need to be vigilant given the ongoing risk for dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases.  The Agency maintains continuous vigilance of health and disease trends and risks for residents and visitors in the Region.

We continue to work closely with other public health partners including US CDC, PAHO/WHO, tourism organizations public health agencies in Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union to find innovative ways of mosquito control including behavior change communication and research.

Working alongside CMS we will support vector control activities and educate the public to protect the health of all within their borders. There is a need to strengthen surveillance in member states, set up registries for babies affected in the 2016 epidemic, enhance laboratory testing capacity, document the findings of countries to ensure evidence-based policy and practice and to look at ways to deal with climate-sensitive, mosquito-borne diseases

As we work towards the elimination of the vector and their breeding sites CARPHA encourages visitors and residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites by using insect repellents, wearing protective clothing and staying in screened or air conditioning accommodations.

For further information on Zika, you may visit the CARPHA website at http://carpha.org/

 

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, ZIKA

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CTO Statement on the Passing of William ‘Bill’ Howard, President, West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (13 August, 2018) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) expresses its sadness at the sudden passing of William ‘Bill’ Howard, the president of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA).

Bill was a dedicated servant of the Caribbean American community and was committed to the continued development of the West Indian Day Carnival as an avenue to transmit the excitement of the Caribbean to millions of participants and viewers in the United States and beyond, provide a nostalgic and creative outlet for members of the Caribbean Diaspora – and those who travel from the region to be part of this spectacle – and advertise our carnivals and festivals in the Caribbean. We greatly appreciated Bill’s commitment to enhancing the cultural, educational and leadership opportunities for Caribbean people.

Under his leadership the CTO and WIADCA established a productive working relationship which we will continue to nurture in his memory.

On behalf of the Chairman and the Council of Ministers, the Board of Directors, Staff and entire membership of the CTO, we offer condolences to Bill’s family and loved ones, and to WIADCA, the organisation to which he devoted his considerable talent and expertise. His contribution will be sorely missed. Our prayers are with his family at this difficult time.

 

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog

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CTO presents Dr. Roy Hastick, Sr., with its Distinguished Citizen Award

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (4 August 2018) – Hugh Riley, secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) presented its “Distiguished Caribbean Citizen Award” to Dr. Roy A. Hastick, Sr., president and CEO of the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI), during a recent CACCI small business development power breakfast meeting. The honour is part of CTO’s Caribbean Tourism Industry Awards given annually during Caribbean Week New York festivities.

“The Caribbean Tourism Organization recognises Dr. Roy Hastick for his longstanding commitment to representing the interests of Caribbean people at the New York City and State levels,” said Riley (pictured on the right in the photo). “His steadfast endeavours to strengthen commercial links between the Caribbean and the region’s Diaspora are particularly worthy of commendation and for that reason we have bestowed the Distinguished Caribbean Citizen Award on him.”

“I am excited and thrilled to receive the Distinguished Caribbean Citizen Award from the Caribbean Tourism Organization, a prestigious association that promotes tourism in the region throughout the world,” said Hastick (pictured on the left in the photo). “For over 33 years CACCI has been promoting trade, investment and tourism between the United States and the Caribbean as well as helping thousands of small businesses in the New York metropolitan area survive and thrive.”

Hastick was born in Grenada and migrated to the U.S. in 1972 and worked for several years as an administrator, community advocate, entrepreneur and newspaper publisher. Through his involvement with organisations in the Borough of Brooklyn, Hastick recognised the need for the Caribbean community to unify in support of one another in order to improve the quality of life for everyone. As a result of his work in the small business community, Hastick was appointed Honorary Brooklyn Ambassador by Brooklyn Borough president Eric L. Adams.

As president and CEO of CACCI, he has helped grow the statewide membership organization to over 1,700 and provides expertise in providing business assistance to small start-up and emerging businesses in areas of business planning, financing, procurement, preparation for certification and business expansion, tourism and export/import opportunities.

CACCI’s extensive track record of service delivery includes sponsoring over 600 business networking meetings and establishing partnerships with US government and private business entities. Over the years, CACCI has sponsored numerous trade missions to the Caribbean, convened business meetings and held briefing sessions on behalf of several Caribbean Heads of State including Prime Ministers of Jamaica, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Barbados, Haiti, Dominica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, and the Chief Minister of Montserrat.

In August 2017, the CTO and CACCI formalised a cooperation strategy between the two organizations to enhance the level of engagement with the Caribbean Diaspora and to strengthen relationships with entities serving the people of the Caribbean.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Caribbean Week

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CTO Helps Dominica Prepare To Cope With The Impact Of Climate Change

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (30 July 2018) – The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the region’s tourism development agency, has been working closely with its member country, Dominica, to be better able to plan for, withstand and recover from the negative impacts of climate change and natural disasters.

The CTO has completed a two-day climate sensitisation and disaster risk management workshop in Roseau, aimed at facilitating the sharing of knowledge and best practices on strategies related to climate mitigation and adaptation, as well as identifying sound disaster risk management approaches.

Dominica suffered a direct hit by category five Hurricane Maria last September, which wiped out 226 per cent of its gross domestic product, two years after Tropical Storm Erika passed over the island, destroying an entire village, killing 20 people and leaving behind damage to 90 per cent of the country’s GDP.

“The topics of climate change and disaster preparedness are very pertinent to us in Dominica and in the wider Caribbean. We live in a region that is prone to the effects of climate change and disasters especially hurricanes. Of course, we have first-hand knowledge and recent experience with hurricanes,” Colin Piper, the chief executive officer of Discover Dominica Authority (DDA), the island’s tourist board, said at the opening of the workshop

“Anecdotal data indicates that tourism arrivals after natural disasters reduce by up to 30 per cent for up to three years. We are in fact experiencing a reduction in promotable visitor arrivals. For some properties, their occupancy levels may be up due to aid and agency short stays, but we must address this issue which threatens our livelihood within the hospitality industry and as nation,” he added.

Thirty tourism practitioners and decision makers from the public and private sectors participated in the event, which formed part of the “Supporting a Climate Smart and Sustainable Caribbean Tourism Industry” project currently implemented by the CTO, with funding and technical assistance from the Caribbean Development Bank, through the joint Natural Disaster Risk Management (NDRM) programme for Caribbean Forum states, undertaken in conjunction with the African Caribbean and Pacific Group and the European Union.

The 26-27 July workshop, facilitated by strategic planning expert Dr. Jennifer Edwards, was the latest in a series of training programmes being conducted by the CTO for Dominica.

Earlier this month a “Delivering Quality Service” workshop was held for 55 craft and souvenir vendors, hair braiders and tourism taxi service providers to help them better appreciate the importance of their roles in visitor satisfaction; improve people relations through effective communication and understand how positive visitor interactions result in satisfied visitors.

That workshop, facilitated by the CTO’s regional human resources development consultant Sharon Banfield- Bovell,  covered areas such as understanding the customer, the importance of delivering quality customer service and the ten principles of customer service, all areas which Dominica said were critical in ensuring the service providers are equipped with the necessary skill set to deliver the highest level of customer service.

In addition, 25 participants each are to be trained in the management of sites and attractions at a workshop which targets forestry park wardens and the Waitukubuli National Trail Project among others, and a management of service quality workshop for senior executives and general managers in private and public sector tourism enterprises.

The CTO’s resource mobilisation and development division offers several training and development programmes, for member countries and the tourism sector, in keeping with its mandate to assist in developing and strengthening human capital in the region’s tourism sector so as to offer high levels of professional service.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, Climate Change, Corporate News

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Tourism Human Resource Professionals To Plan Strategies To Build High Performance Workforce

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (26 July 2018) – When human resource professionals from across the region meet in the Cayman Islands in November for the 9th Tourism Human Resources Conference, they will be challenged to develop effective strategies and plans to build a high performance and motivated workforce.

The 28-30 November conference, organised by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), in collaboration with the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism (CIDOT), comes at a time when the Caribbean faces increased competition in the global, high-tech, innovation driven industry, and amidst increasing calls for a total rethink of the way tourism leaders engage with the workforce.

“There is an urgent need for a high performance, resilient workforce which is critical for sustainability of the tourism sector in this ever-changing environment,” Sharon Banfield-Bovell, the CTO’s regional human resource development consultant said as planning for the conference intensifies.

Building high performance teams come with challenges, she said, including employees’ unwillingness or lack of motivation to change; low employee productivity and morale; and the scarcity of relevant skills, as well as weak or outdated leadership thinking and styles.

However, Banfield-Bovell said, while technology can help drive efficiency, “the real value in tourism is our human resources – the power of people – and the ability of a well-trained, highly valued, and fairly compensated workforce to transcend beyond process and profit”.

The conference, which has as its theme Building a Resilient, High-Performing and Sustainable Caribbean Tourism Workforce For Global Competitiveness, will feature experts in human resources, tourism and labour, including Claudia Coenjaerts, director of the International Labour Organization’s decent work team  and office for the Caribbean, who will deliver the keynote address on, The Future of Work – What will become the New Normal.

The CTO team has been working with the CIDOT to produce a dynamic programme of plenaries, masterclasses, a students’ forum and a tour.

“As Caribbean nations, it is imperative that we make the necessary investments which drive visitation in this globally competitive industry. While these investments often come in the form of property development or increased marketing, it is my belief that the greatest asset any tourism product has is its people,” commented Rosa Harris, director of tourism for the Cayman Islands. “The Cayman Islands has continued to develop our local tourism workforce through nationwide customer service training, tertiary education scholarships and the establishment of a vocational certification programme through our School of Hospitality Studies. We are proud to host the 2018 Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Human Resources Conference and look forward to inviting professionals from across the region, to share best practices on ways we can strengthen our tourism workforces for collective success.”

Registration and other information available at www.onecaribbean.org.

Posted in: 2018 News, Blog, HR Conference

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