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Stay up to date on current properties and upcoming tourist events! At Caribbean Biz in New York, USA, we keep you in the loop about the latest happenings in the region. The 28 Islands referred to as the melting pot, because of the high cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity has approximately 40 million individuals, thousands of properties, each of which possess their own unique brand, culture and economic characteristics.

* REMEMBER TO CHECK ALL TRAVEL PROTOCOLS

SOUTHERN PALMS BEACH CLUB, BARBADOS

Escape to the Caribbean Sea for a relaxing vacation at one of the best hotels in Barbados and embrace the island vibe at Southern Palms Beach Club. Located on the breathtaking South Coast of Barbados in St. Lawrence Gap, this Barbados hotel edges a white sandy beach with clear turquoise waters and gentle trade winds. Relax with your toes in the sand, chill under a palm tree, or swim in our two freshwater pools.

Retreat to seaside rooms or suites and sip a rum punch on your private balcony with breathtaking views. Enjoy the laid-back beach feel of our Garden Terrace Restaurant, serving Caribbean cuisine, BBQ and grilled seafood overlooking the sparkling sea. Family adventure. Romantic honeymoons. Beach bliss. The Pink Pearl is your home in paradise.


Featuring 3 outdoor pools, a miniature golf course, and the Baian Breeze Restaurant, this resort is on the shores of the Caribbean Sea. In tropical gardens, it is a 10-minute drive from downtown Bridgetown.

Each brightly colored suite at the Divi Southwinds Beach Resort is furnished with a complete kitchen and a furnished balcony. The living area includes a TV and a sofa bed. Wi-Fi is available.

The Pure Ocean restaurant is on the beachfront, serving fresh local cuisine. Joslyn’s Café is open for lunch and located next to the beach.

Offering direct access to half a mile of sandy beach, the resort is ideal for surfing, scuba diving, and windsurfing. Guests can work out in the on-site gym or play on the tennis courts.

Grantley Adams International Airport is within a 15-minute drive of Southwinds Divi Beach Resort. The Garrison Savannah Horseracing Track is 5 minutes away by car.

Saint Lawrence is a great choice for travelers interested in nightlife, restaurants and sandy beaches.

Couples in particular like the location – they rated it 8.9 for a two-person trip.





January 01, 2021


New Year’s Message from Acting Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization

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 2020 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 as 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.

Best regards,


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December 29, 2020


JAMAICA WELCOMES UPTICK IN ARRIVALS DURING HOLIDAY SEASON


KINGSTON- JAMAICA, Jamaica reported its highest seven-day cumulative arrival figures since reopening borders on June 15. Preliminary statistics from the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) show that for the period December 22-28, just over 21,000 passengers arrived on the island. The Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay welcomed 16,841 and 4,203 additional passengers arrived at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston.

“This is welcome news for us as an industry as we see an uptick in visitor arrivals and close the year on a positive note. The Christmas holidays provided the destination a well-needed boost, which we hope will be an indicator of what we can expect in the New Year,” said Donovan White, Jamaica’s Director of Tourism. “All stakeholders remain positive and believe that the air seats secured for Winter 2020/2021 will further bolster our recovery efforts.”

Between December 1-28, Jamaica welcomed over 98,000 visitors, an increase of more than 30,000 compared to the previous month. Sangster International Airport continues to account for the majority of arrivals. Between June 15 and December 28, a total of 376,044 passengers arrived on the island.

The JTB recently announced tourism sales and marketing strategies that will deliver on the Destination Assurance promise of a safe, secure and seamless visit. Destination Assurance prioritizes health and safety, while positioning Jamaica as the premiere holiday choice for GEN-C, the generation that transcends demographics and reflects the shared psychographic of living through the pandemic.

For more information about Jamaica, please visit www.visitjamaica.com


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December 17, 2020


The Caribbean is still at risk of losing some 200,000 jobs linked to the now highly depressed travel and tourism sector,


The Caribbean is still at risk of losing some 200,000 jobs linked to the now highly depressed travel and tourism sector, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

Managing Director of the WTTC Virginia Messina gave the sober warning as she pointed out that Caribbean economies stood to lose out big time if travel restrictions remained in place in key source markets for the remainder of the year, and the region did not move quickly to implement a synchronised strategic plan.

Messina said this year there will be some 1.7 million jobs lost linked to the travel and tourism sector “and if there is no improvement in terms of the restrictions and if there is no recovery during December, this number could be all the way up to 1.9 million. So we know at least 200, 000 jobs are currently at stake.”

Messina was a panellist on a recent online tourism discussion forum held under the theme Tourism: The Key to the

Caribbean’s Economic Recovery.

She said the region has already witnessed a loss of US$36 billion this year in gross domestic product (GDP) contribution from the sector, and in a worst-case scenario, that amount could reach US$42 billion. It is estimated that the sector contributed some US$59 billion to the region’s GDP last year.

The Caribbean has also seen a drop of about 60 per cent in international travel and a 40 per cent decline in domestic travel. Worse case scenario, she said, the declines could reach 68 per cent and 52 per cent, respectively.

The declines came a year after the region’s tourism sector growth was outpacing the average economic growth. Data from the WTTC showed that while the Caribbean GDP grew at 1.9 per cent last year, the growth of the travel and tourism sector in the region grew 3.4 per cent, and directly supported some 2.8 million jobs.

It is estimated that the region welcomed a mere nine million visitors between January and November this year, a decline of about 70 per cent, when compared to 2019.

Messina said in order to enable a faster recovery, the region should continue to go after business travel, and countries should have a consistent and coordinated approach.

She is also of the view that the Caribbean should learn from past catastrophes and governments should continue to provide fiscal and other support to the sector.

“What will help us is not trying to create new travel processes, but how can we make that journey safe and seamless, and we need to make sure there is a cohesive approach that provides confidence to travellers.

“If we look at previous crises, for example, like the 9/11 crisis in the US, back then our sector was reinvented. This is a second time we will have to reinvent ourselves and this time it is not a security crisis, but a health crisis, but what is it that we can learn from previous crises that can help us this time around?” she noted.

Messina added: “There will be no recovery unless there is a comprehensive testing regime in place. So for us, testing is going to be really fundamental for recovery even when a vaccine is widely available.”

Acknowledging that it could take “some time” for countries to inoculate their population, she said regional destinations should employ more rapid testing as opposed to the more costly PCR tests, so as to ensure continued travel to the region.

“We have to make sure that a vaccine does not become a requirement for international travel. That is why testing is going to be so relevant,” she said.

Michel Julian, Senior Programme Officer at the UNWTO, said data will be key for Caribbean countries to make strategic decisions for their recovery.



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October 07, 2020


Barbados has won the Seatrade Cruise Awards Destination Of The Year Award.


This year’s winners were announced at a virtual ceremony on Tuesday, celebrating the 14th edition during the first Seatrade Cruise Virtual.

The other entrants for this category were Cruise Copenhagen and St Kitts and Nevis. Barbados won for its homeporting efforts, “warmth and hospitality” during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The programme, once again, received a record number of nominees recognising the best in international cruise industry success, ambition and innovation,” says Mary Bond, group director, Seatrade Cruise. “We congratulate our outstanding awards recipients, and express gratitude to our independent panel of judges for their devoted effort to selecting our winners.”

The awards, sponsored by Oracle Hospitality, were presented by Bond; Ingo Soerensen, Area VP, Global Cruise Sales, Oracle Hospitality; as well as Cruise Baltic’s Claus Bodker and V. Ships Leisure’s Per Bjornsen.

Following is the entry by Cruise Barbados:

“Barbados, known as the gem of the Caribbean Sea, has earned this nickname not only because of its beautiful beaches and diverse experiences, but also because of the warmth, kindness, and hospitable nature of its people. Barbados has always been a popular cruise destination, offering an authentic onshore experience that allows visitors to learn, do, taste, and feel so much in as little as four hours. However, Barbados’ popularity has been renewed within the cruise industry during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. With hundreds of ships at sea following CLIA’s temporary shutdown on cruising, and with rejection from other Ports, this little gem in the Caribbean Sea remained a place where homeporting cruise lines like AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and more, could call home and find safe haven, warmth, and hospitality during the biggest crisis this industry has ever seen.

As the island faced its own challenges with COVID-19 cases, under the guidance of Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, protocols were devised to keep its residents safe. Additionally, more than thirty- five ships were able to collaborate with the Bridgetown Port and the broader destination to repatriate crew. To show appreciation for Barbados’ support of the cruise industry, the crew members of AIDAperla said ‘Thank You’ by staging a beautiful light display reading ‘Thank You BB’ while waving from the deck as the ship departed the Bridgetown Port.

Barbados’ actions during COVID-19 are a testament to its unwavering support of cruise tourism. The island not only promotes cruise tourism through its close partnerships with leading cruise lines, the FCCA, and CLIA but has also developed enticing late evening experiences, so that passengers from ships with later departure times can enjoy much more of the island after dark.

One of these customised cruise experiences, located within walking distance of the port in Bridgetown – a designated UNESCO World Heritage site – is known as Festive Fridays, a night market featuring the best in food, music, craft, and dance. Prior to the pandemic shutdown, Festive Fridays had become popular with overnighting ships from the U.K.

Barbados’ 166 square miles is filled with more attractions than any other Caribbean island. From its rich combination of culture, heritage, adventure, sport, cuisine, shopping, and hallmark attractions, Barbados has something for everyone. For the nature traveler, the island offers picturesque trails in breathtaking forests, captivating caves, gardens, and gullies, as well as coastal cliffs with intriguing histories. For the exploratory traveler, the island provides ample watersports, culinary and community experiences.

If you’ve ever dreamed of living where you vacation, Barbados is making it a reality with the Barbados Welcome Stamp. This recently launched 12-month visa gives visitors the opportunity to work remotely from their home country in Barbados. These longer stay visitors will now be able to utilize cruising to explore the beautiful neighboring islands in this enchanting archipelago, all from the homeporting hub, this precious little gem of the Caribbean Sea, Barbados.” (PR)


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October 01, 2020


CTO PARTNERS WITH REGIONAL, INTERNATIONAL AGENCIES FOR CARIBBEAN TOURISM RECOVERY FORUM


~ The 14-15 Oct virtual event will focus on planning and management of the recovery process for the Caribbean ~

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (1 Oct. 2020) - As part of it programme to help the region’s tourism sector rise to the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is teaming up with the world’s leading international tourism agency and other influential regional and international organisations for a critical recovery event for the industry.

The United Nations specialised agency for tourism, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), global market research firm Euromonitor International, independent charity, Travel Foundation, and the University of the West Indies are collaborating with the CTO in presenting the Caribbean Tourism Recovery Forum on 14 and 15 October, 2020. The virtual event will focus on planning and management of the recovery process for the Caribbean.

“From the onset of COVID-19, the CTO has sought expertise to assist our members with immediate, short-term and long-term recovery planning as they navigate the path towards rebuilding the regional tourism sector,” said Neil Walters, the CTO’s acting secretary general. “Through this forum we are again able to capitalise on our close relations with these reputable organisations to provide insights and analyses about the sector, as well as explore some of the key areas that must be addressed to ensure success in the Caribbean’s tourism recovery process.”

The event also incorporates a capacity building element in the form of a workshop to assist destinations in applying a structured, measurable model to their own national planning.

It will have two distinct segments, with the first segment on 14 October aimed at increasing awareness of steps to planning recovery and improving knowledge of the role of stakeholders in the recovery process. A range of areas will be covered, including the economic impact of COVID-19, travel sentiment and forecast, considerations around a vaccine, best practices for recovery and a model for sustainable tourism post-COVID.

Presenters for this session will include:

Caroline Bremner, Head of Travel and Tourism Research at Euromonitor International

Professor Clive Landis, Chairman, University of the West Indies COVID-19 Taskforce

Alejandro Varela, Deputy Regional Director for the Americas at UNWTO

Jeremy Sampson, Chief Executive Officer at The Travel Foundation

This segment is open to CTO members and partners in tourism and related fields and will run from 10:00 AM to 1:15 PM.

The second segment on 15 October will target government members of the CTO for a Smart Recovery planning workshop facilitated by The Travel Foundation. A unique feature of this workshop is that it combines learning and development, and post-implementation assessment. The programme was developed by the teams at The Travel Foundation and City Nation Place and it has been successfully delivered in a number of other destinations as part of their tourism reopening plan.

Participants will gain in depth knowledge of recovery framework and are expected to complete and assess a recovery plan for their respective destinations.

For more information on the Caribbean Tourism Recovery Forum, including how to register, please visit www.onecaribbean.org.


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September 10, 2020


Minister of Tourism of Barbados, Senator Lisa Cummins, - Not business as usual


Minister of Tourism Senator Lisa Cummins says there are extensive plans to reposition Barbados as a strong competitive force in the global tourism market.

In her maiden address to the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) during its third quarterly meeting held virtually yesterday, the new minister declared “it won’t be business as usual”, while announcing the planned establishment of a Value Chain Council in a few weeks to “reimagine” the sector.

Cummins said it would be constituted from among the hotel sector, the productive sectors such as the Small Business Association, as well as the “drivers of capital and labour”. Initiatives coming out of this body should be rolled out by January 2021.

She informed the BHTA membership of several actions being taken for the future direction of the industry. Among them are a redesigning of the private/public sector partnership (PPP) plan for the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., and advancing work on PPP arrangements for the premier attraction, Harrison’s Cave, as well as Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA). (GC)


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Dominica hoteliers developing new growth strategy


Fri July 24 2020


ROSEAU – The Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association (DHTA) says it is developing a strategic development plan to assist the sector to become more innovative in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Newly elected DHTA president, Gans Schielder said Dominica must be able to compete with the rest of the world in attracting visitors.

He said the new executive would need to establish the strategic plan “because we really want to be helping our membership to be innovative in the redevelopment of tourism.

That will be necessary because everybody in the world is now competing for the international visitor and we will have to be creative in our offer, new in our offer and our members will have to have the tools to help each other.”

He said that the DHTA had prepared earlier this year a digital guidebook, titled “Experience Dominica” an application that could be loaded on mobile phones and promoted to all visitors.

“We originally wanted to launch it in April, but we will now be launching it in September. So that is a creative innovative new tool,” he said that would include all available tourism destination, event and facility island wide.

Schielder said a business exchange platform will also be created for DHTA members, adding “we will stimulate that our members offer business services to each other at special rates” that would involve taxi-drivers, hoteliers and tour operators among other stakeholders.

“So when guests want to stay in another part of the island we can offer that and we will include international suppliers who sell us furniture, beddings, as well as suppliers of safety systems”.

He said all these suppliers are willing to make special deals for DHTA members “and work in this closed application because it will not be open for third parties…” (CMC)


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Mon July 20, 2020


Carriers Vying For LIAT Route


(BROOKLYN, New York): The process by which an airline applies and for and is granted regulatory approval through the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCA) will be expedited for at least three of the six carriers that are seeking to expand their networks with the recent demise of regional carrier LIAT.

ECCA’s Director General Donald McPhail gave that assurance last week while participating in regional webinar hosted by the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank. He acknowledged that the process to grant an Air Operators Certification, from establishment to certification, could take up to six months for operators registered with ECCA — a process which many have complained about.

In the case of InterCAribbean Airways and Caribbean Airlines, two of the airlines bidding for routes previously owned by LIAT, he explained the process will be shortened significantly. “It will take just a matter of weeks or days. These are established airlines which already hold an Air Operators Certification issued by their state of registry. Whenever one such regulatory should apply for commercial rights the air transport licensing board in that state would consult ECCA on the technical aspect of the airline,” McPhail said.

He further explained that technical assessment of the airline is also done building on information received from the state in which the airline is registered and operating, once the requirements of ECCA are met a communication is then sent back to the respective state to indicate that the airline can operate within the region.

“The assessment also depends on the size of the operator, types of aircraft, the company within the region. At times you may have difficulty and we may have to consult with other agencies,” the ECCA director general said.

Creditors will, on July 31, have their say on whether or not the carrier should be liquidated at a meeting scheduled to take place here. In a letter dated July 16 and signed by LIAT’s company secretary, creditors were informed that the meeting was being held to consider the winding up of the company.

Gaston Alfonso Browne, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda.

Meanwhile, there is strong backing for the proposal by Prime Minister Gaston Browne to create a new entity as opposed to liquidating the Antigua based carrier. Browne has maintained that liquidation is not the best option as it would be detrimental for Antigua which employs most of LIAT’s workforce.

Former chairman of LIAT group of trade unions, Senator Chester Humphrey of Grenada, told regional media he is in full support of the initiative and encourages others to do the same. “I support the initiative of LIAT 2020. I think while significant difficulties face this endeavor, I really think it is the way to go. Having said that, some very profound and real in-depth re-organizational changes of LIAT must occur if this effort is to bear fruit.” He added, “I cannot imagine a modern economy in the Caribbean served by a plethora of small mini-buses because that is essentially what is being proposed to replace LIAT.”


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Friday July 17, 2020


Grenada to reduce taxes on airline tickets


St George’s – Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell has disclosed that Grenada will soon be reducing taxes on airline tickets as part of measures aimed at encouraging intra-regional travel within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

He said this is being done as the Government implements various strategies to encourage travel within the region.

Speaking on the pending liquidation of regional carrier LIAT, Mitchell said that there are other airlines which will be filling the void left by LIAT which suspended its service in April after most regional states shut down airports as part of measures aimed at containing novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

LIAT, which has served the region for more than 40 years, had been experiencing financial challenges before the onset of COVID-19 and the closure of the airports around the region placed the airline in a more difficult position.

Most airports in the region reopened as of July 1 for commercial passengers since closure in late March, but since then there has been little or no regional commercial air traffic as only a few airlines are offering services.

The Eastern Caribbean is significantly affected by the non-availability of LIAT.

“There are a combination of opportunities that will be available to ensure that we have, not just to replace what LIAT was bringing if it has not returned, but to have expanded opportunities,” the Prime Minister said.

“We expect with the additional transport to the individual countries in the region and the reduction of taxes in general and airport fees, in general, we will see further development of inter-island travel.”

Naming One Caribbean, SVG Airways and InterCaribbean as airlines which are about to include Grenada and other Eastern Caribbean territories to their routes, he said reducing airline taxes has become a necessity.

“So far, some countries, and we will be following suit, have in fact taken the initiative to reduce the taxes on airline tickets already. We will be doing so in the not to distance future,” he said without providing the timeline for government to make such announcement.

Minister of Tourism Clarice Modeste has already confirmed that InterCaribbean airline, which is known for its services in the northern Caribbean, is one of the airlines with which the Government has finalised an agreement.

The airline’s management has announced that it will be expanding its services to the Eastern Caribbean.

The regional Civil Aviation Authority, which is based in Antigua and Barbuda, has also provided the necessary approval for these regional airlines to expand to other islands.

These regional carriers are expected to make Barbados their hub for the Eastern Caribbean service. 

(CMC)


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Sunday July 05, 2020


Caribbean unveils initiatives to support tourism sector


(CMC) – Caribbean hotel, tourism and health officials have unveiled a new initiative they say will help safeguard the health of travellers and employers within the tourism sector.

The COVID-19 Caribbean Tourism Task Force said the comprehensive health safety guidelines, supported by an aggressive training schedule are aimed at reaching thousands of the region’s tourism employees in the coming weeks and months.

It said that the initial set of guidelines includes detailed checklists backed by health safety training for various tourism industry sectors, including ground transportation, accommodation providers, food and beverage, and attractions.

General health safety protocols have also been created and will be supported with training delivered by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) to a wide cross section of employees and owners in the tourism industry.

Companies in the region which participate in the training will be recognised, and accommodation providers which also join CARPHA’s online Tourism Health Information System (THiS) will be eligible to receive the Caribbean Travel Health Assurance (CTHA) Stamp, adding further assurance to travellers about their commitment to health safety.

The officials say building upon a unique partnership established over five years ago by CARPHA and the region’s public and private sector tourism stakeholders, and recognising the severe negative impact which COVID-19 could have on the tourism-dependent economies of the region, CARPHA, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) started working on COVID-19 preventative and education initiatives early in February.

They said this led to the formalisation of the COVID-19 Caribbean Tourism Task Force a month later between CARPHA, CTO and CHTA, and later joined by the Jamaica-based Global Tourism Resiliency and Crisis Management Centre (GTRCMC) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Commission (OECSC).

“Not intended to replace specific national and territorial guidelines, or those being put in place by specific hotels and the industry, the procedures serve to reinforce and complement existing policies which have been drawn up to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“The initiative has also been put in place to provide support particularly for the independent hotels, tourism-related businesses, and smaller destinations which lack the expertise or resources to develop their own,” the officials noted.

The task force undertook a review, which engaged a cross representation of Caribbean tourism stakeholders, of health safety protocols and guidelines for tourism protocols issued by a range of destinations, industry enterprises, and regional agencies and are further synced with global protocols, including those of the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), and the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

“We started working with this (initiative) in January with the Member States and we have been leading the regional health response in this matter of COVID-19.

Public health is our mandate, and in looking at how we can ensure we open up to tourism safely, we had guidance from not only our own technical sources but also the guidance and the wisdom of those in the field,” said Dr Joy St John, CARPHA’s Executive Director.

The leadership of both CHTA and CTO expressed their commitment to the engagement of tourism and industry partners in improving and maintaining health and safety standards throughout the region and were thankful for the expertise of the partners in delivering an impressive compilation of protocols.

CHTA chief executive officer, Frank Comito and CTO Acting Secretary General Neil Walters noted that such collaborative partnerships are critical to the sustainability of the tourism sector on which many countries and territories depend for their economic survival.

The task force members agreed that disseminating the guidelines and beginning the essential work of training industry stakeholders while navigating the changing nature of the industry and the global economy were urgent priorities.


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Fri June 19, 2020


Region can't return to pre-COVID conditions, says Bartlett

CMC


KINGSTON – Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett says for the first quarter of this year, international tourism has recorded 67 million fewer arrivals and a loss of US$80 billion in exports.

Bartlett, who was chairing a virtual meeting of the 65th meeting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO) Commission for the Americas (CAM), said the Americas, including the Caribbean, is the third hardest hit region, with international arrivals down by 15.2 per cent compared to the same period in 2019.

Jamaica is one of the four English speaking Caribbean Member States of the UNWTO and currently chairs the CAM for the biennium 2019-2021.

Bartlett said the region has also registered the slowest recovery of lost arrivals post crisis, using the September 2011 terrorist attacks in the United States as a case study where it took 42 months to return to previous figures.

Bartlett blamed the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic for the situation facing the tourism sector, noting that the virus plunged the world economy into uncertainty, with travel and tourism highlighted as one of the most affected sectors.

“This represents the worst showing for international tourism since 1950 and puts an abrupt end to a ten-year period of sustained growth since the 2009 financial crisis,” he said.

Bartlett noted that governments “stand at this most critical juncture” to “stop, look, listen and pivot, i.e., assess the situation; craft strategic policies and responses; monitor the effective implementation of these policies; and prepare ourselves to further adjust and creatively manage vital developments vis-à-vis COVID-19”.

The minister said that the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), has indicated that the region is facing the pandemic from a weaker position than the rest of the world.

He said before the pandemic, ECLAC had projected that the region would grow by a maximum of 1.3 per cent in 2020.

“However, this forecast has been revised in light of the effects of the crisis, with GDP [gross domestic product] now predicted to fall by at least 1.8 per cent. Nevertheless, as the pandemic evolves, forecasts of economic contractions of between three and four per cent or even more, cannot be ruled out.”

He said that small island developing states (SIDS), “like some of us in this region, face particular challenges to our sustainable development, including small populations, limited resources, vulnerability to natural disasters and external shocks, and strong dependence on international trade”.

“A heavy and deepening reliance on tourism as a priority contributor to the gross domestic product of our countries, accounting for over 50 per cent of GDP in some cases, could further exacerbate the region’s vulnerability in this present crisis. This is even as we recognise the immense potential of travel and tourism to right our economies on the road to recovery and development,” Bartlett warned.

He said in the case of Jamaica, external debt is 94 per cent of GDP as at March 2019 and for March 2020, it is estimated to be slightly lower at 91 per cent.

“The estimated contraction in GDP from COVID-19 for the Fiscal Year 2020/2021 is 5.1 per cent. Our projections have estimated an annual loss of J$108 billion to the tourism sector for the fiscal year April 2020-March 2021 and a fallout of $J38.4 billion to the government from direct revenue from the sector.”

Bartlett said it is clear that this is not business as usual, noting “therefore, our policy responses demand innovative thinking to match the dynamism of this current threat to sustainable development”.

“Effective recovery and the “new normal” will be characterized by greater flexibility for the viability of businesses, particularly micro, small and medium sized tourism enterprises; a new and united generation (GenC) with strategies tailored to this emerging market; increased application of technology for digital transformation; new modes of work and measurements for productivity; as well as enhanced resilience.”

Bartlett said that border re-openings and re-engagement with the international community are necessary to advance national and global recovery.

“In this regard, Jamaica welcomed tourists to rediscover our island, earlier this week on 15 June. It is still too early for any preliminary assessment of the impact of this decision and its timing. However, the Jamaican government rests confident that it has considered all relevant precautionary measures, including adoption of necessary workplace protocols as well as tailored protocols for the tourism industry,” he said.

He told the conference that these measures include the establishment of a resilient corridor for controlled tourism travel; design of detailed operating protocols for each segment of the industry for which Jamaica has received global recognition and endorsement; certification of businesses for compliance; and a consolidation of the Tourism Product Development Co. as a driver for destination assurance anagement.

“In our bid to guarantee a safe, secure, seamless and satisfying experience for tourists, the government has decided to test all visitors and intensify the collaboration between the Tourism and Health Ministries. This will add a layer of preparedness to urgently address the risk of any new imported COVID-19 positive cases. These measures will be as least restrictive as possible, with ongoing evaluation and management based on data and science.

“As we 'stop, look, listen' and take necessary steps to survive and thrive beyond this crisis, the spotlight shone brightly on several key takeaways,” he said, including agreement with the UNWTO that tourism will be a useful vehicle to drive recovery and re-balance economies.

He said the promotion of diversity and inclusion within the sector provides employment and opportunities for the most vulnerable populations.

“The sustainable development slogan of leaving no one behind applies just as much to inequalities among countries as it does to those that exist within countries – developing and developed. The systems and tools created to confront COVID-19 are useful guides for revising policies and procedures to take account of these social and economic realities.”

Bartlett said that member countries are indeed resilient in the face of crises and that he is amazed at how quickly individuals and businesses have adapted to the Zoom and Microsoft Meets culture.

Bartlett warned that the region “simply cannot return to the situation that existed pre-COVID19,” adding “in this regard, we recall the UNWTO slogan during this period 'Stronger Together'”.

“The principles of multilateralism must, indeed, ring true for greater cooperation and collaboration at the regional level and further, on the global stage. This is particularly important as we keep in view the existential threats to humanity such as climate change, food insecurity, and poverty that continue to plague some of our countries.” (CMC)


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Fri June 19, 2020


Caribbean will have a different tourism product after COVID outbreak, says 

Neil Walters is the acting Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization


CMC

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The acting Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), Neil Walters, says tourism in the Caribbean and the rest of the world will be considerably different as countries begin to reopen their borders to international traffic following the forced closures occasioned by the onset of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Walters predicts closer alignment of tourism and health functions as destinations seek to reassure potential visitors that their health, safety and well-being are being taken seriously.

The CTO official said the virus, in addition to pausing in tourism activity, hurting Caribbean economies and disrupting lives, also allowed Caribbean countries to retrain workers across the sector and improve the product.

“But one thing that has become critical is that the tourism that emerges from this pause will be different from the tourism that paused at the end of March. And the key way it will be different is that now tourism will be living and functioning with COVID-19. That means that there will be a significant integration of tourism and health functions across the world – not just in the Caribbean – and the Caribbean as arguably the most tourism-dependent region in the world has had to do the same thing: integrate tourism functions to ensure the safety and health of visitors and locals alike,” said Walters who was speaking in the final episode of the CTO podcast, COVID-19: The Unwanted Visitor.

“Although it has been economically impactful, that pause has actually given our destinations the chance to get that new process right, to work on getting it right, and to ensure that they reopen in a way that there’s a level of comfort on all sides.”

The acting secretary general also emphasised the level of collaboration among member countries, saying he hopes this will continue.

“I’ve been very heartened by the level of collaboration that I’ve seen throughout this process. I hope that collaboration continues. That is the way this region and the brand Caribbean will become stronger. Even in the face of all the uncertainty we faced recently, that collaboration is key. I think that once we continue that collaboration, the spirit that it has been done in so far, the region which we live in will bounce back,” 


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Monday May 12, 2020


CUT PASSENGER TAXES ON AIR TRAVEL TO COMPETE, IATA TELLS CARIBBEAN GOVERNMENTS


~Regional VP for the Americas, Peter Cerda, says some countries risk losing service once borders reopen if they fail to invest in airlines and other partners ~

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



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Sun May 03, 2020


CHTA WARNS THAT SOME CARIBBEAN HOTELS COULD COLLAPSE BECAUSE TOUR OPERATORS DON'T PAY MONIES OWED


MIAMI (May 3, 2020) - Citing the unprecedented pressures facing Caribbean hotels and resorts because of the coronavirus pandemic, the head of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) called on those international tour operators which have delayed paying hotels for services delivered to the operators' clients as early as January to expedite reimbursements.

Frank Comito, CEO and Director General of CHTA, in a letter to major trade organizations representing the bulk of tour operators that do business with the Caribbean, asserted that 69 percent of hotels report that they have not been receiving timely reimbursements from tour operators for services provided during the first quarter of 2020. The average amount owed to hotels by tour operators is US$219,000 per hotel, "with a number of hotels reporting outstanding amounts in excess of $1 million and one hotel being out-of-pocket $15 million," Comito reported.

Noting the global crisis was threatening the survival of many Caribbean properties, particularly the small- and mid-sized independent properties, which are a staple element of tour operators' business, Comito wrote: "We have become alarmed in recent weeks to learn of the extent to which some of your member tour operators are withholding reimbursements to hotels for services which were rendered as early as January and into February and March."

Acknowledging hotels had been advised to expect reimbursement to take an average of 60 additional days, and as long as 120 days, from certain tour operators who cited staff shortages, high demand, and reduced cash flow as primary reasons for delays, Comito pointed out that "these payments were made to the tour operator by consumers, often many months in advance and were to be held in trust for payment to hotels shortly after the delivery of the services."

Comito requested the international tour operator associations help CHTA by "reaching out to your member operators who work with the Caribbean urging them to make every effort to expedite their obligation to reimburse Caribbean hotels for services which have been rendered."

The CHTA chief said he understood the dilemma facing all in the travel industry, but he stressed "the reimbursement of funds which were collected from the consumer far in advance and are obligated should take priority."

Inferring the survival of Caribbean hotels was threatened, Comito warned that the consequences of contributing to the demise of some Caribbean hotels "will also be long-term for your members and the reputation of the sector, having already impacted the ability of many Caribbean hotels to meet their own financial obligations to employees, vendors and Government for taxes owed related to past activity."

Stressing the interdependence of Caribbean hotels and tour operators, Comito reminded the recipients of CHTA's letter that the association had been a longstanding resource for many tour operators working to develop their Caribbean portfolio: "Through our B2B marketing efforts, advocacy work, and reach to our 33 member destinations and hundreds of properties, we've helped to create an environment which has supported the growth of your members' business into the region."

Looking to future cooperation, Comito asked the associations to rein in some tour operators which are considering "one-sided attempts to revise future contracts as they seek new rate and payment terms, already asking for deep discounts which are difficult to provide in an extremely high-cost/low-revenue operating environment."

The business relationships developed by tour operators with Caribbean hoteliers over many years had been key to their mutual success, and Comito voiced the hope to maintain and build upon those relationships as the world emerges from this crisis. "This will require give and take by all parties," he stated.

CHTA confirms that correspondence has been transmitted to major trade associations representing tour operators in Canada, Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States.


About the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA)

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is the Caribbean's leading association representing the interests of national hotel and tourism associations. For more than 55 years, CHTA has been the backbone of the Caribbean hospitality industry. Working with some 1,000 hotel and allied members, and 33 National Hotel Associations, CHTA is shaping the Caribbean's future and helping members to grow their businesses. Whether helping to navigate critical issues in sales and marketing, sustainability, legislative issues, emerging technologies, climate change, data and intelligence or, looking for avenues and ideas to better market and manage businesses, CHTA is helping members on issues which matter most.

Visit www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com.


Greta Andzenge, Marketplace Excellence, 1812 Front Street, Scotch Plains, NJ 07076

Thurs April 30, 2020


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Re-branding the Bahamas

Say's Ellison ‘Tommy’ Thompson, the Tourism Ministry’s Deputy Director General.


Caribbeantoday.com/ Author Dawn A. Davis


When planning a vacation to The Bahamas most holiday makers automatically think of Nassau, the bustling modern capital, Freeport, the second city on Grand Bahamas island, or Bimini, known for its pristine beaches. But, there is so much more to the Bahamas than these three well-known destinations. Thus, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation is on a mission to change all that.

Ellison Tommy Thompson“We are promoting The Bahamas with a 16-island strategy. We are introducing the individual names of the islands of The Bahamas, with each island being branded according to what the island can deliver,” explained Ellison ‘Tommy’ Thompson, the Tourism Ministry’s Deputy Director General.

Caribbean Today caught up with Thompson recently at a Bahamas marketing event held on the Seafair mega yacht in the Miami bay.

A mere ‘shouting’ distance from Miami, Florida, The Bahamas is an archipelago of islands that stretches over 100,000 miles of the Atlantic Ocean dotted with large and small islands, and many cays, all with different characteristics. It is these differences the Deputy Director General is promoting.

Said Thompson: “If you go to Crooked island, that’s a bone fishing paradise. And the neighbouring island, Acklins, least known of all the islands and a pristine natural wonder, will showcase its unique beauty with the first annual Cascarilla Festival this June.”

The Cascarilla herb, known for magical powers of protection and cleansing, is also a major ingredient in the Italian liqueur Campari.

“Cascarilla is a huge business,” he added. “So, we’re trying to make it as sustainable as possible. The aim of the festival is to get the younger people involved in it, so we’re working with the schools. We have acres of farmland, and we will give some of that to the schools so that they can get students involved in sustainability of the crop and also teaching them the financial benefits of the business.”

Another festival which takes place in March each year is the Mutton Festival on Long Island. The two days of festivities highlights the creativity of Long Islanders in the creation of mutton dishes.

“Part of what we’re doing is to look at how do we create economic benefits from tourism. Our branded festivals are a great way to draw attention to these islands and also to bring business to the islands,” Thompson emphasised.

Rockstar Lenny Kravitz

Giving a boost to the marketing strategy, the Tourism Ministry has Partnered with rockstar Lenny Kravitz to bring a dash of celebrity status to the islands. Indeed, the famous singer/songwriter’s Bahamian heritage and his occasional presence on the islands, even before he became a household name, lends authenticity to the advertising and marketing rollout.

A well-produced television commercial featuring Kravitz walking on an expansive beach, talking to locals, and driving along the coastline with his hit song “Fly Away” playing in the background skillfully beckons visitors to The Bahamas.

“So, we have superstar Lenny, but also you have the nice, real authentic, unfiltered Bahamian telling the story of their particular island. We try to infuse more of the culture of The Bahamas in a very authentic way,” said a beaming Thompson.

Thompson added: “We’ve created a Tourism Development Corporation that is looking at ways to get Bahamians involved in the ownership of tourism. If you have a bed and breakfast, give tours, or sell souvenirs, we are trying to get more diversification in tourism.”

In fact, according to the Deputy Director General, 2018 was a record breaking year for The Bahamas with more than 6.6 million visitors, a significant 486,176 increase over figures recorded in 2017. He also revealed that forward bookings (measured March to May) are looking extremely healthy, with international arrivals running 9 percent ahead of last year. And, with its new rebranding strategy, the Lenny Kravitz expected ‘effect’, and a strong repeat customer base, visitor numbers are again expected to beat the previous year.

Part of the ‘effect’ is expected to reach potential visitors further afield, evident in the Ministry’s recent trips to Canada, Germany, and New York to promote The Bahamas. However, Thompson acknowledged that about 80 percent of the tourism business to The Bahamas comes from North America (the US and Canada). And, just 50 miles off the Bahamian coast, Florida is dubbed number one for visitors to the islands.

“We see ourselves as a global brand. We know where our major market is, but part of the tourism marketing strategy is also reaching potential visitors from across the globe.”






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