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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.



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.

April 16, 2021

The United Nations is set to launch a funding appeal to support St Vincent

and the Grenadines

United Nations Headquarters – The United Nations is set to launch a funding appeal to support St Vincent and the Grenadines as ongoing volcanic explosions continue to disrupt life on the island and nearby countries, a top UN official said on Wednesday.

UN Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Caribbean, Didier Trebucq, briefed journalists in response to the growing humanitarian crisis sparked after long-dormant La Soufrière volcano erupted last Friday, displacing some 20 000 people, or roughly one-fifth of the population.

Around 6000 are considered vulnerable, the UN said.

“We are about to initiate the UN funding appeal and response plan to support the humanitarian response but also the early recovery for the next six months”, he said, speaking via video link from Barbados.

“This is a crisis that is going to last certainly more than six months in the sub-region, in St Vincent, and other islands,” Trebucq added.

The UN said St Vincent and the Grenadines, located in the southern Caribbean, consists of more than 30 islands and cays, nine of which are inhabited.

It said at 4 000 feet in height, La Soufrière dominates the largest island, St Vincent and that the volcano had been silent since 1979, but began spewing smoke and rumbling in December, before erupting on Friday.

“We are facing regular eruptions of the volcano, including up to last night. We are expecting that continuous explosions and ash fall will continue over the coming weeks in St Vincent and the Grenadines but also in neighbouring islands such as Barbados, which has also been severely affected, as well as St Lucia and Grenada,” Trebucq said.

The UN said some 4 000 of the displaced people are now living in 87 shelters, though many facilities lack basic services such as drinking water. It also disclosed that others have found refuge with families and friends, while a handful fled to neighbouring countries on fishing boats.

Trebucq said right now, water is “priority number one”, as service has shut down in many areas and supplies are being transported from sister Caribbean nations.

The Resident Coordinator said the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO), the regional office of the UN health agency, World Health Organisation (WHO) are on the ground to assess needs.

“Priority number two is really about shelter management,” said Trebucq, highlighting the need for cots and basic hygiene items.

He said UN teams, including from the World Food Programme (WFP), are also working with Vincentian authorities on digital registration of beneficiaries for cash vouchers.

“The clean-up of the ashes, finally, is another important priority, in terms of environmental health but also clean-up to make sure that life can come back to normal outside the red zone as soon as possible,” Trebucq said.

Relatedly, he said UN agencies, in collaboration with the European Union, are also working to provide experts who will devise a plan for the clean-up of volcanic ash in St Vincent and the Grenadines and the other affected islands. (CMC)


April 12, 2021

Large explosion at La Soufriere early Monday morning

Article by

[email protected]

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent – The Trinidad-based Seismic Research Centre (SRC) of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Monday said there was a “large explosion” at the La Soufriere volcano.

In a brief update posted on its website, the SRC said that its team monitoring the volcano, which erupted last Friday, “observed a large explosion at approximately 4:15 am (local time) and pyroclastic density currents (flows) have been observed on the flanks of the volcano”.

The SRC said that it is continuing to monitor the situation and will update later.

Volcanologist, Professor Richard Robertson, Sunday warned that the on-going eruption of La Soufriere volcano is in keeping with the events surrounding the 1902 eruption, which claimed 1 600 lives at a time when early warning systems and evacuation capabilities were not as advanced.

Speaking on the state-owned NBC Radio, Professor Robertson, the lead scientist monitoring the volcano, said that while most people know of the 1979 eruption, what is currently happening at La Soufriere is more akin to more a century ago.

“The activity pattern we have currently is more similar to a 1902 type of eruption of that kind of scale, rather than a 1979 scale. The people who lived through 1979 know the kind of eruption we have had.

“What does that mean? It means, unfortunately, that it is likely going to cause more damage and destruction to St Vincent. But it also means that there will always be a safe place in the south of the country, which might have a lot of ash every now and then, but you can still sustain life and limb and it would not — which is what we all worry about — get so big that it destroys the whole country. That’s currently doesn’t seem to be the case.”


April 12, 2021

Trinidad to deploy soldiers to St Vincent and the Grenadines during eruptions of Volcano

AvatarArticle by

Barbados Today

SOURCE- CMC – The Trinidad and Tobago government says it will be deploying members of the defence force to St Vincent and the Grenadines from Tuesday, as that Caricom country continues to deal with the explosive eruptions of the La Soufriere volcano.

“We will be deploying 50 officers of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force. This contingent will comprise personnel from engineers, infantry/ provost, medical and logistics. The contingent will be stationed in St Vincent for two weeks in the first instance,” the Ministry of National Security said in a statement.

The ministry, which has been coordinating Port of Spain’s assistance to St Vincent and the Grenadines, said the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management has been coordinating efforts to collect supplies to be transported to the island on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The eruption of the volcano has resulted in several people having to be evacuated to several Caribbean islands including St Lucia and Barbados and the scientists monitoring the volcano have warned that the eruptions could continue for several weeks.

In 1902, the volcano erupted killing over 1,000 people. It last erupted in 1997, but there were no casualties


March 19, 2021

Airbnb and CTO collaborate to promote tourism in 2021

By Caribbean Times Nyc 

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Airbnb on Wednesday announced a partnership with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) to amplify the region’s recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic by promoting safe, responsible travel to the region.

As part of the collaboration, Airbnb is launching a marketing campaign that will promote CTO member countries across its vast global community.

“With the Caribbean continuing to reopen, we’re helping to usher in the safe return of travel to this wonderful region by shining a light on the many places to see and things to do,” said Carlos Munoz, Airbnb Policy Manager for Central America and the Caribbean. “We’re also excited to promote the important economic impact driven by hosting on Airbnb.”

The partnership is one of several initiatives in the CTO’s ongoing program to help its members rebuild tourism in their destinations.

“The partnership with Airbnb will help us to promote the region responsibly by providing our members with a platform to showcase their destinations while at the same time highlighting the health safety measures that each has implemented to ensure that visitors can enjoy a safe Caribbean experience during this time,” shared Neil Walters, Acting Secretary-General of the CTO.

Airbnb’s marketing campaign includes the rollout of a series of email newsletters and a landing page highlighting the CTO’s member countries and their respective protocols for safe travel during this time.

Airbnb has also pledged to share data with the CTO, including travel trends, to facilitate informed marketing decisions during this recovery period.

The promotional landing page for this partnership will be unique to others worldwide. It will integrate 18 countries from the English, French, and the Dutch Caribbean, promote homes in each destination, and links to each country’s website.


February 26, 22001

CARICOM insists that access to vaccines must not be discriminatory

The Caribbean is being snubbed by COVID-19 vaccine suppliers and CARICOM (Caribbean Community) chairman Dr Keith Rowley declared Thursday he is not happy about it.

As CARICOM leaders wrapped up their virtual mid-term summit, the Trinidadian Prime Minister expressed disappointment over the region’s inability to source COVID-19 vaccinations and disclosed that CARICOM would be sending “a very strong statement” on the matter.

The topic of vaccines was the “first and primary engagement” of the two-day 32nd Inter-Sessional Meeting of CARICOM Heads, Dr Rowley told journalists.

He said so far the region had only received 170,000 doses, which he said was inadequate. He was referring to India’s gift of 100,000 doses to Barbados and 70,000 doses to Dominica of the India-made Covashield vaccine, also known as the Oxford AstraZeneca jab. Both countries then made donations to fellow CARICOM members with Barbados making gifts to Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname and Belize while Dominica donated to member countries in the seven-nation Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.

Each CARICOM nation is due to receive an initial batch of vaccines purchased under the COVAX coalition for low and medium-income countries, organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The COVAX quota, to be shipped between this month and June, are intended to cover one-fifth of the population with the two-dose Covashield vaccine.

He pointed out that a decision had been made that vaccinations would be shared wherever possible.

Dr Rowley said: “We will be issuing a statement on our concern and dissatisfaction with the way we have been literally squeezed out of access to vaccines. We know that there is a world shortage of vaccines but what has been put in place to allow countries like us to have access to the vaccines have not been working along those lines and the end result is that at this time we’ve only had fortunately one gift of 170,000 vaccines within our region and up to now we have not been able to access any other even though we now know and anticipate with great expectation that in the next few days we will hear when we will get our first COVAX.

“But we must understand that the COVAX initial quota is but a small part of our needs and in attempting to find accessible ways to either receive donations or to purchase from manufacturers, the only thing that is happened along those lines is that we’ve got some commitments to some territories from India to add some more to the 170, 000 doses but so far we have not been able to access vaccines in the way we anticipated.

“The large suppliers and the major countries have bought up all of the supplies and the suppliers are telling us they are unable to access orders from us because of their commitment to those who have access to vaccines. So you will see a strong statement from CARICOM on this and you will see a repeat of the call to the WHO in the face of this development, which the WHO is aware of and I dare say the UN, that we need some international response to the complaints of CARICOM and similar nations.”

To make matters worse, some countries in the region were being forced by suppliers to overpay for vaccines, the CARICOM chairman declared.

Dr Rowley told journalists: “One of the conditions under which they are attempting to sell us is that it has to be in a confidential arrangement, meaning that we are not going to expose what we’ve been charged for it.

“What we’ve discovered in that arrangement is that different people can be charged hugely different prices and required by contract to keep those prices confidential and that is the environment in which the vaccine access and purchase is now.”

And while he was optimistic the COVAX facility would be instrumental in servicing the region’s needs, Dr Rowley confirmed that CARICOM is also exploring other avenues to obtain vaccines, such as the African Medical Supplies Platform.

“We have advanced further with the offer from the African Medical Supplies platform,” the Trinidadian leader announced. “There is an arrangement where we have all agreed to put in our request for what we can have from them. We are required to pay and all countries are required to pay so that the shipment can be made and we have committed to do that in such a way so as to allow them to assist us in a way to share their vaccines that they are getting because the African block is one large block and we are aiming to get some from them.”

He said PAHO is also hoping to attract enough vaccines in larger volumes to the COVAX tranche.

Dr Rowley also dismissed a previous report that there had been a singular offer of 500,000 vaccines to CARICOM.

([email protected])


February 05, 2021

CHTA: Economic survival of region in jeopardy

CHTA: Economic survival of region in jeopardyCHTA has described the tourism situation as grave. (FILE)


Miami – The Miami-based Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) has warned that the region’s economic survival is in “serious jeopardy” as the tourism-dependent economies struggle with the consequences of the pandemic and travel restrictions being imposed and considered by its most popular countries of origin for travel.

CHTA on Tuesday welcomed the new United States administration’s balanced international travel measures, which call for returning travellers and those entering the United States to show proof of receiving a negative antigen or PCR test while not mandating quarantines but recommending self-isolation upon returning.

The organization, whose membership includes 33 of the region’s national hotel and tourism associations, expressed its appreciation and concerns in a letter to President Joseph Biden and US government officials last week in response to the administration’s call for input on international travel protocols as part of an Executive Order on the matter.

In throwing its support behind requiring travellers entering the US to show proof of a negative antigen test within 72 hours of travel, CHTA cautioned against the imposition of mandatory PCR tests for travellers returning to or entering the US from the Caribbean, highlighting the stringent virus containment measures already in place within the region and the region’s challenges in administering a much larger number of PCR tests.

CHTA noted that, in recent weeks, the region has moved aggressively to increase its capacity to administer PCR and antigen tests as it aims to meet local demand and adhere to new testing requirements for travelers and returning residents to its key source markets.

This stepped-up effort followed earlier announcements last month by Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union, which imposed worldwide measures that essentially stopped all international travel to and from those areas.

CHTA noted that the US testing requirement does not apply to the United States Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, which are within the US containment area.

In its communication to the United States, CHTA said it added its concerns to those of the World Travel and Tourism Council, the US Travel Association and the International Air Transport Association, about the possible imposition of a mandatory quarantine period for travellers to the United States.

“The imposition of a mandatory quarantine period would bring business and leisure travel between the United States and the Caribbean to a near standstill, with devastating ensuing results to the region’s already vulnerable economies, further eroding tax revenue, employment levels and forcing additional business closures,” CHTA said.

CHTA also echoed calls for all residents to wear face coverings, practice physical distancing, wash their hands frequently, and adhere to sound hygienic practices advanced by the Caribbean Public Health Agency and local health authorities.

“By working in collaboration since February 2020 with the Caribbean Public Health Agency and our public sector counterpart, the Caribbean Tourism Organization, and other stakeholders at the regional and local levels, we have put in place the protocols, training and operational changes necessary to protect the health of our visitors and the more than two million citizens and residents who are employed in the region through tourism,” CHTA added. (CMC)


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.


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)


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. 



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.


Fri June 19, 2020

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


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)


Sun May 03, 2020


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.


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

Thurs April 30, 2020


Re-branding the Bahamas

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