Caribbean American Heritage Month 2020 Message by Neil Walters Secretary General (Ag) CTO

From the very first Caribbean-American Heritage Month in 2006, the United States government has given official recognition to the great contributions of people of Caribbean heritage to the fabric of the nation.

This is an acknowledgement of the highest order that Caribbean immigrants, including those born in, or cultured by, the Caribbean, have had a highly positive impact on the United States. From the Nevis-born Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers, through to today, the contributions of Caribbean immigrants and their descendants to United States law, culture, politics, medicine, education, media and all walks of life have been immeasurable.

Caribbean American Heritage Month is meant to celebrate these contributions while serving as a reminder that the United States would not have been as great a country as it is without its diversity.

Of course, we cannot and ought not forget the contribution of Barbara Lee, the congresswoman from California, who in 2005 introduced the resolution to establish a Caribbean-American Heritage Month, giving official recognition to the region’s contribution to the development of the United States. The senate passed the resolution in February 2006 and President George W. Bush issued the proclamation on 6 June, 2006.

The month of June has since become the period during which every Caribbean immigrant, as well as those of us who live in the Caribbean, unite in our proud display of all that make us among the most creative, productive, vibrant, warm and welcoming people in the world. It’s also when the Caribbean Tourism Organization would take this vibrant energy and diversity to New York during Caribbean Week New York.

However, this year is different. This year we observe Caribbean American Heritage Month during what is one of the most difficult periods in our history and that of the world. The COVID-19 pandemic  has placed economies under tremendous strain, ground life as we’ve known it to a virtual halt, and, frankly, forced fundamental changes to all of our lives. And sadly, it has also taken so many lives, including large numbers of our Caribbean brothers and sisters.

We mourn this loss of life and our hearts ache for the families devastated by the loss of their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, relatives and friends.

The CTO also applauds and pays homage to the many Caribbean immigrants who join colleagues on the frontline, selflessly giving of themselves as nurses, doctors and other essential workers in the fight against the virus. You are all in our prayers.

Naturally, Caribbean Week New York has been cancelled due to COVID-19, including our Rum and Rhythm event, which allows the Caribbean Diaspora – our greatest tourism ambassadors and a most trusted and resilient component of the tourism market – and the CTO member countries to celebrate the  rhythms, food and rums of the region, while raising funds to support Caribbean students pursuing studies in tourism and its related subjects.

As we celebrate Americans with roots in the Caribbean this month, the CTO looks forward to our emergence from this pandemic as a much stronger, more determined and more united people whose contribution to home and adopted home cannot be matched.

Posted in: 2020 News, Blog, Corporate News

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Cut Passenger Taxes on Air Travel to Compete, IATA tells Caribbean Governments

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (13 may, 2020) – Describing travel as being in a “free fall” and the airline industry as being “bare bones” due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), the trade association for the world’s airlines is advising Caribbean governments to cut passenger taxes if they wish to be competitive when service is restored.

Peter Cerda, the regional vice president for the Americas at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), says the state of the global airline sector, including carriers in the Caribbean, is “as bad as one could expect”, and they will need government support to resume any form of service.

Cerda, speaking on this week’s Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) podcast, COVID-19: The Unwanted Visitor, warns that the aviation sector will emerge from the crisis with fewer carriers offering leaner services to fewer routes and flying smaller aircraft. And “when it comes to the Caribbean, it won’t be the same market”.

Therefore, he says, regional governments must prepare for this eventuality by taking the necessary steps to reduce the cost of air travel.

“Governments can … help the international carriers continue to operate there [by] lowering passenger fees and taxation fees,” Cerda suggests. “One of the biggest problems that we’ve always faced in Caribbean is the Caribbean is a very highly taxed market. And it’s always taxed on the airline side, on the passenger, consumer side. And this will be a big challenge for the Caribbean once we are able to escape from this crisis.”

The IATA executive predicts that in the early stages of the resumption of air travel the people who fly would rather remain close to home. He says the Caribbean’s proximity to the United States and Canada gives it an advantage in this case, but it can quickly lose this advantage if the countries fail to be prudent.

“Because of the financial crisis that will follow the apprehensions that the consumer has, if the Caribbean does not position itself – that it is competitive, it has a good level of service in terms of medical services, it has the right procedures being implemented – these passengers may decide to go somewhere else, somewhere else in Central America, Mexico or even see in the US,” Cerda says.

IATA represents about 290 airlines or 82 per cent of total air traffic, and Certa says with virtually all aircraft grounded and airlines continuing to face financial ruin, the organisation has asked all governments, including those in the Caribbean, to, among other measures, provide low interest loans through their lending institutions.

He says many have already stepped forward to provide assistances and warns that those who do not will be at the end of the queue for service when flights resume.

“Those countries that are helping the industry will position themselves in a much better way when the crisis is over to reinstitute flights. In those countries where they are not helping their airlines, those airlines are going to be in a very difficult situation to be able to restart,” Cerda says.

While predicting that international travel will return to the Caribbean by next month, Cerda says Caribbean economies could lose US$740 million and face 23,000 job cuts if borders remain closed through to the end of June. When all of travel and tourism is considered, he says, the cost to the region could reach US$6.5 billion, with over 350,000 jobs at risk.

To listen to this episode – or previous episodes – of the CTO podcast, please visit www.anchor.fm/onecaribbean. It can also be found on Anchor, Spotify, www.onecaribbean.org and the CTO’s Facebook page, among other platforms.

Posted in: 2020 News, Blog, Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Caribbean Has Achieved COVID-19 Containment, Says Researcher

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (5May, 2020) – The coronavirus (COVID-19) has been contained in the English-speaking Caribbean and Haiti, according to a leading researcher and academic.

However, Dr. Clive Landis, pro-vice-chancellor for undergraduate studies and research, and professor of cardiovascular research at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill campus in Barbados, and the chairman of the UWI COVID-19 task force, says this does not mean that the Caribbean is out of danger.

Landis, the guest on this week’s Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) podcast, COVID-19: The Unwelcome Visitor, led the research into the progress of the virus in the 15-member Caribbean Community, as well as the British overseas territories.

“The bottom line for the whole Caribbean is that the Caribbean has avoided the kind of outbreak, the kind of epidemic that we’ve seen in many European countries…and north America. We’ve avoided that,” he says in the podcast which is available at www.anchor.fm/onecaribbean, Spotify and the CTO’s Facebook page, among other platforms.

“When you look at the growth trajectories, they are basically flat [in virtually all the countries],” he reveals.

However, the UWI researcher insists containment does not mean the virus has been wiped out in the region, adding that the Caribbean will have to learn to live with its threat for another year.

“I want to stress that when you have achieved containment…you are looking to find cases in clusters and having a cluster, there’s nothing wrong with that. That actually shows you are doing your surveillance. We map how each Caribbean country has done from the first case and we can say quite confidently that these countries have achieved containment,” says Landis.

He also advises that before opening their borders to international travel, every Caribbean destination should have public health nurses who are trained in detecting acute respiratory illnesses in every hotel and all areas of potential risk.

In this podcast, Landis addresses a range of subjects including what countries must look for in order to determine whether or not they’ve reached their peak, the projections for the region and the future of travel, which he says will likely include immunity passports and health certificates.  

About the Caribbean Tourism Organization

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), which is headquartered in Barbados, is the Caribbean’s tourism development agency comprising membership of the region’s finest countries and territories including Dutch, English, French and Spanish-speaking, as well as a myriad of private sector allied members. The CTO’s vision is to position the Caribbean as the most desirable, year-round, warm weather destination, and its purpose is Leading Sustainable Tourism – One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean.

Among the benefits to its members the organisation provides specialised support and technical assistance in sustainable tourism development, marketing, communications, advocacy, human resource development, event planning & execution and research & information technology.

The CTO’s Headquarters is located at Baobab Tower, Warrens, St. Michael, Barbados BB 22026; Tel: (246) 427-5242; Fax: (246) 429-3065; E-mail: [email protected];

For more information on the Caribbean Tourism Organization, please visit www.OneCaribbean.org and follow CTO on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to be part of the conversation.

Posted in: 2020 News, Blog, Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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CTO Statement on the Passing of Dr. Roy Hastick

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (Tues. 14 April, 2020) – It is with profound sadness that we learn of the passing of Dr. Roy A. Hastick, a colossus of the Caribbean American business community.

As the founder and chief executive officer of the Caribbean Chamber of Commerce and Industry, (CACCI), Dr. Hastick stood tall and proud as a committed soldier of the Caribbean Diaspora in New York City and New York State. His efforts, mostly on limited resources, helped open doors for many people needing assistance.

His mantra, “business networking really works”, proved to be a strategy that served to increase small business development among the Caribbean Diaspora. Perseverance brought his message to the ears of elected officials, corporate businesses and government partners, and from this the people of the Caribbean have benefited.

The number of trade missions he undertook helped increase business investment throughout the region and contributed to the success of the tourism industry in CTO member countries.

While he was known for strengthening Caribbean businesses in New York, the CACCI also assisted during times of crisis in the region. After the hurricanes of 2017, Dr. Hastick gathered his extensive list of contacts in the United States congress, the New York state governor and legislators, other state and city officials and private sector partners to provide emergency assistance.

Dr. Hastick’s ultimate dream was the construction of 255 affordable housing units and the CACCI headquarters/ Caribbean Trade and Cultural Centre in Brooklyn. He dedicated many years to the fulfilment of this dream, and while he did not see it through to its completion, its opening in 2021 will serve as a strong reinforcement to his tireless work to improve the economic well-being of Caribbean-Americans.

He was the first recipient of the CTO’s Distinguished Caribbean Citizen Award in 2018. This award was given for his longstanding commitment to representing the interests of Caribbean people at the city and state levels in New York, his endeavours to strengthen commercial links between the Caribbean and its Diaspora and his recognition of the fact that commerce and investment are naturally intertwined with tourism.

Dr. Hastick will be sorely missed, and his legacy will live forever.

On behalf of staff of the CTO, the council of ministers and commissioners of tourism, the board of directors and Caribbean people everywhere, we express our deepest sympathies to Eda Hastick and his family.

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Caribbean hospitality youth encourage peers to get behind COVID-19 directives

MIAMI – Young leaders of the Caribbean tourism sector are throwing their support behind calls to heed the advice of public health officials to stay at home so that the region’s leading economic sector can rebound quickly once the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic subsides.

The recently established COVID-19 Caribbean Tourism Task Force is enlisting the dynamism and innovativeness of young hospitality professionals to encourage protective practices by Caribbean nationals, especially younger ones, many of whom have been slow to respond to the urgency of the outbreak.

Striking messages of encouragement from young professionals in Barbados, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and Turks and Caicos, released by the task force, implore fellow youth to take more seriously the dangers of the contagion to the Caribbean.

The Task Force, which comprises representatives from the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), and the Global Tourism Resilience & Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC), unveiled the two-minute video, which contains essential guides to safeguard communities and individuals.

The Task Force initiatives support those of Caribbean tourism leaders and health organizations, who are working together to prevent the spread of COVID-19 throughout the region, and are implementing response measures to contain the spread of the virus.

In the video, Kamille Huggins, Executive Assistant of The Landings Resort & Spa in St. Lucia, echoing job loss concerns of many of her peers, said: “We have to get back to work to pay the bills and to feed our families. When are we going to lick this thing? It’s hurting all of us.”

“Listen. The power is in every one of us to end this isolation sooner rather than later. This invisible virus can disappear so much sooner if each one of us does what the experts tell us. The sooner we do that, the sooner we can go back to work and return to normal,” declared Sonia Simmons, Communications Manager of the Turks and Caicos Hotel and Tourism Association.

“Here’s what the health experts tell us. Please stay at home. We cannot contain this threat to our lives if we continue to go out carousing,” stressedJamal Griffith, Sales and Marketing Manager of Bougainvillea Barbados, while Issia Thelwell, Sales and Marketing Manager of Round Hill Hotel and Villas in Jamaica, pointed out, “If (you stay at home), you may be a part of a new dynamism we need to restart Caribbean tourism.”

The message, which has generated strong interest on social media, is especially important since many young people across the region have been ignoring public health advisories which warn residents of the danger of spreading the virus by hanging out in groups.

CARPHA Executive Director Dr. Joy St. John welcomed the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) calls for leaders in the private sector to support efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. “We need to lock arms across the region to ensure that we have adequate medical supplies and testing equipment,” she said. “But we also need to work together to educate our communities about this dangerous disease, and develop strategies which focus on what our post-COVID recovery looks like in the months ahead.”

Drawing on information presented in a recent CHTA webinar, young professionals agreed it was imperative for the region’s public and private sector representatives to work closely together to prepare for the post-pandemic recovery. They opined global travelers have become more inured to global shocks, such as natural disasters and geopolitical events, and were optimistic that the Caribbean region would recover faster than many areas in the rest of the world.

“By staying home today, we can travel tomorrow,” they stressed

Posted in: 2020 News, Blog, Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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