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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.

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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.





October 22, 2021


The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is projecting a steep drop of about 60 per cent in income for this year, compared to 2019 figures.


Presenting the Treasurer’s report recently during the CHTA annual general meeting, James Hepple said the organisation was projecting income to fall from US$1.958 million to just over US$777,600 by the end of this year.

“This is because of firstly, a substantial 65 per cent drop in income from our partners, which is falling from $676,024 to a projected $234, 237,” said Hepple.

He said a decline in income from events including the annual CHTA Marketplace, which was held virtually this year, as well as the absence of Taste of the Caribbean, Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum (CHIEF) and Caribbean 305, will all contribute to the overall decline in income for this year.

“Therefore, we saw a drop from US$830,231 in income from events in 2019 to just $149,365 in 2021, a drop of $680,866 or 82 per cent,” said Hepple.

There was also a decline of US$100,559 or

23 per cent in membership dues, to a projected $326,881 for 2021.

“At the beginning of the year we were aware these declines in incomes would take place and therefore expenses would have to be further reduced.

“So, expenses are projected to fall by 69 per cent in 2021, compared with 2019, falling from US$1.989 million to a projected US$624,368.

“As you can imagine, that’s had an enormous impact on the ability of our organisation to execute plans and programmes. We have to address that moving forward,” he said.

Staff related expenses were slashed by US$458,719 or 56 per cent, which included mostly payroll and related costs, going from US$816,131 in 2019 to a projected US$357,412 this year.

Event related expenses will see a projected

95 per cent reduction, with only US$40,009 projected to be spent on events this year.

Operations related expenses will also see a major reduction this year of about 81 per cent, to reach just about US$33,260. This reduction, according to Hepple, was primarily as a result of the CHTA being able to get out of the lease for its office in Coral Gables in Florida.

The CHTA is also forecasting a 38 per cent reduction in activities related to staff travel and board and committee meetings this year, down from the US$75,786 spent on those activities in 2019.

“So as a result of these cuts and as a result of income performing a little bit better than expected, we are projecting a surplus of US$153, 240 for 2021,” he reported, adding that while an initial 2021 budget was prepared in October last year, that budget had to be revised, and a new one was presented and approved in March of this year.

Provisional figures show that CHTA is expected to finish this year with cash flow of about US$132,380, more than double what it ended with last year (US$53,550).

Last year, the organisation recorded a 22.7 per cent decline in income, when compared to 2019. At the same time, expenses fell by 54.7 per cent last year to reach US$901,764, compared to the US$1.989 million in expenses for 2019.

“It is very important for members to understand that because the way in which the CHTA’s operations have been conducted over the years much of the money for 2020, the revenue income, is received in 2019 and a lot of that cash was used in 2019. So US$681,000 of 2020’s income was actually received in 2019,” Hepple explained.

The CHTA currently has investments valued at just over US$200,500.


[email protected]


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October 16, 2021


The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) has a new president after Puerto Rico-based hotelier Pablo Jose Torres Sojo unexpectably stepped down after one year into the position.


He turned over the presidency to First-Vice President Nicola Madden-Greig of Jamaica during the CHTA annual general meeting on Friday.

Torres, who took over the presidency from Barbadian hotelier Patricia Affonso-Dass last year, said he was unable to complete the second year of his term due to “the need and circumstances” in his own company, adding that his current role has “made it very difficult for me to be as active as I want to be”.

The bilingual Torres, who has over 31 years in the hospitality and tourism industry, was the General Manager of Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico when he took up the post of CHTA President.

In January, he was appointed the hotel’s Area Vice President of Operations for the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America.

“I have great confidence in the CHTA staff and volunteer leadership. I am highly optimistic at the speed of recovery we are looking at,” said Torres.

“Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your president and I look forward to supporting this amazing organization.”

During the AGM the motion for Madden-Greig to serve as President of the CHTA for the next year was accepted. She is also expected to continue in the role for another two years after that, to 2024.

Madden-Greig is the Group Director of Marketing and Sales at the Courtleigh Hospitality Group.

Thanking Torres for his leadership during a time of “extreme crisis”, Madden-Greig promised to continue to build on the work done.

“This is a position I take seriously and hope to continue to build on the work of the previous executive as we continue to forge our way through this pandemic towards recovery, as well as to continue to provide support to our brothers and sisters in Haiti,” said Madden-Greig.

Insisting that all must be done to make Caribbean tourism flourish, she said CHTA will call for better collaboration through strengthening of existing partnerships and forming new ones and a renewed focus on some issues such as climate change and sustainability.

“At the same time we also need to focus on the current matters of the COVID-19 pandemic which we still have unfortunately to deal with, and we will continue to look at how we fix our focus firmly on the future and how technology can help us in that regards,” she added.

Welcoming Madden-Greig to the position of president, Chief Executive Officer and Director General of the CHTA Vanessa Ledesma noted that the Articles of Incorporation allowed for the other vice presidents to move up one position.

This means the fourth vice president role would remain vacant. Ledesma reported that a recommendation that was accepted by the executive committee was placed before the board of directors for Regional Vice President Federico Moreno-Nickerson to fill that post. (MM)



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September 28, 2021


The Future of Caribbean Tourism - Community tourism way to go, says expert


The Caribbean has been advised to develop community tourism as a viable niche market to cash in on business from those travellers looking for experiences beyond the traditional sand, sun and sea as the region seeks to rebuild following the devastation caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

On World Tourism Day observed today, global travel and tourism industry leader Bruce Poon Tip told operatives in the Caribbean tourism sector that travellers were eager to escape the confinement of lockdowns enforced by the pandemic and wanted to “reconnect” through travel

“Suddenly purposeful and meaningful travel means something and there is no greater way to deliver on that as a tourism destination than community travel,” said the founder of G Adventures and Planaterra, the world’s largest small group adventure travel company and pioneer of community tourism .

Poon Tip was the keynote speaker for the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s (CTO) World Tourism Day forum entitled “The Future of Caribbean Tourism: Re-defining the S’s,” which examined the challenges, opportunities and best practices for tourism resilience and recovery.

The expert in community tourism explained this kind of tourism was about creating tours and programmes built together with meaningful relationships with communities.

The challenge within the Caribbean, Poon Tip suggested, was going to be the length of time it would take for such a project to be fostered, developed and grown. But he said the benefits were the reward, since he forecasted it would be in demand by the traveller of the future.

In her opening remarks at the virtual conference, Minister of Tourism and International Transport Senator Lisa Cummins said it represented the “coming together of 12 regional and international agencies and institutions from the Caribbean and across the globe, as equal partners to play a role in contributing to the social and economic development of our beloved region.”

In his remarks, vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies Sir Hilary Beckles described the conference as “a discursive project built around the partnership paradigm” saying it was “necessary and consistent with the imperative of reinventing something that we are exceedingly good at”, referring to Caribbean tourism.

“We should never minimise the phenomenal global achievement of the Caribbean product, the brilliant people who have led this industry and who continue to maintain a very strong intellectual approach to the strategies at hand.”

Tourism leaders, academics in the tourism field, regional and international development partners discussed “Social Inclusion, Sustainability and Smart Destinations and Businesses”, identified as three key priorities integral to the Caribbean’s recovery strategies. (GC


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September 24, 2021


FCCA Platinum Member Events Move Full Steam Ahead, FCCA PAMAC Cruise Summit Now Open For Registration


Miramar, FL (September 24, 2021) – Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) is moving full steam ahead in reestablishing its live events that gather Platinum Members with high-level executives from FCCA Member Lines. After already scheduling meetings and networking functions for Platinum Members at Seatrade Cruise Global and providing complimentary registrations for Platinum Members at the FCCA Cruise Conference, the itinerary is now set for the annual FCCA PAMAC Cruise Summit.

Business and relationship development will hit high gear on the high seas from December 10-13 on board Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom of the Seas, with the event ready to launch mutual benefits through a series of meetings to discuss everything from industry trends and region-wide affairs to product promotion and member-specific topics, as well as unique networking opportunities to further foster bilateral partnerships.

“FCCA Platinum Membership events like the PAMAC Cruise Summit are essential to both the members and cruise line representatives,” said Micky Arison, Chairman, Carnival Corporation & plc and the FCCA. “They join some of the industry’s most influential decision makers with significant stakeholders from the Caribbean and Latin America, which leads to positive developments for all parties.”

“We cannot be prouder to again offer our live events to develop mutual growth for Platinum Members and Member Line executives,” said Michele Paige, President, FCCA. “Bringing together these two vital entities in a comfortable setting lets them better understand not only the latest happenings and offerings, but also each other, which has proven to be one of the best ways to synergistically grow and improve.”

The Summit’s itinerary will spark this synergy through features ranging from sit-down dinners to one-on-one meetings between Platinum Members and cruise executives of their choice. Additionally, the long-standing PAMAC Meeting will bring together the entire group to discuss operations and developments, with Platinum Members able to present any point to a panel of Member Line executives leading the meeting.

Networking opportunities will also abound during evening receptions, and tours will explore not only Nassau and Perfect Day at Coco Cay, but also delve into opportunities to build stronger relationships, while helping the group better understand the evolving cruise product and destination experience – including health and safety protocols – from a passenger’s perspective.

This event is one of many that the FCCA coordinates for its Platinum Members and Member Lines to stay at the forefront of information about both the industry and members’ companies and destinations, along with developing bilateral relationships that lead to success for all. Platinum Members and Member Line executives will next come together at FCCA’s private functions during Seatrade Cruise Global, and Platinum Members receive a complimentary registration for the FCCA Cruise Conference, taking place in Panama City, Panama from October 18-21. Plans are also currently in the works for the land-based annual PAMAC Conference.


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August 16, 2021


Barnett to be installed as first female Secretary-General of Caricom

Article by

Kendy


Barnett to be installed as first female Secretary-General of Caricom.Dr Carla Barnett (GP)

Social Share

Georgetown – Belizean Dr Carla Barnett is to be installed as the Caribbean Community’s (CARICOM) first woman Secretary-General on Monday.

The installation ceremony will begin at 10 a.m., during which Dr Barnett is expected to outline her vision and indicate the matters that will occupy her immediate attention.

The chairman of CARICOM, Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda, will welcome the new Secretary-General and bring greetings from the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government.

Barnett has served in the past as the first woman and the youngest person appointed as Deputy Secretary-General of CARICOM (1997-2002)


She is an economist who has also broken other barriers while working across the English-speaking Caribbean, including becoming the first woman appointed as Deputy Governor of the Ce

ntral Bank, and as Financial Secretary, in Belize. She also worked at the Caribbean Development Bank as Country Economist and Vice President, Operations.

The incoming Secretary-General is a long-time advocate for gender equality, “not only because it is the right thing to do to create a more stable and equitable society, but also because gender equality is good economic policy”.

Barnett takes over from Dominican economist Ambassador Irwin LaRocque who served from 2011-2021. She will become the eighth Secretary-General of CARICOM and its predecessor, the Caribbean Free Trade Association (CARIFTA). (CMC


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August 02, 21


CTO LAUNCHES CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY TOURISM NETWORK


Johnson JohnRose - CTO

Tel: (246) 427-5242

Email: [email protected]


~ The network will provide platform to support ongoing development of community-based tourism in the region ~

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (28 July, 2021) - Tourism product development authorities in the region now have a resource from which to draw when developing their community-based tourism (CBT) programmes.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has launched the Caribbean Community Tourism Network (CCTN) to provide a platform to support the continued development of CBT in the Caribbean. The network will facilitate the exchange of best practices among CTO member countries and interested tourism development partners and help identify capacity-building needs as well as challenges and opportunities for CBT development.

“Community-based tourism offers an opportunity to bridge the social and economic gap of local communities, allows community members a path to sustainable livelihoods, and is a conduit for the active participation and empowerment of local people in the tourism,” said Amanda Charles, the CTO’s sustainable tourism specialist. “This network provides an avenue for CTO members to share knowledge, resources, and best practices to improve community tourism experiences and economic impact.”

Among the functions of the CCTN are the promotion and support of regional development strategies in CBT, providing input into, and recommending activities and actions with a view to enhancing the visibility and value of CBT as a regional tourism product, and the exchange of experiences on national and regional initiatives.

The network is one of the initiatives of the CTO, which has identified CBT as a regional tourism development strategy, and is seeking to optimise its role in supporting local livelihoods, stimulating entrepreneurship and community social and economic development, while also creating authentic experiences and unique product offerings for visitors.

Other initiatives include a toolkit for product development, produced in partnership with the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility (CCPF). The toolkit includes a “how to” guide to assist communities and entrepreneurs develop profitable CBT experiences and enterprises, with information on product development, pricing, marketing and creating business plans. It also includes guidelines and templates to support experience design and product enhancement and a tool to measures communities’ capacity and CBT states of readiness.


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July 27, 21


Here’s Where These Caribbean Countries Rank On Cost Of Living

By newsamericas -July 8, 2021

By NAN Business Editor


News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. July 9, 2021: The Cost of Living Index for several top Caribbean countries are in for mid-2021, thanks to Numbeo. Here’s where these countries surveyed ranked. These indices are relative to New York City (NYC).

The Cost of Living Plus Rent Index is an estimation of consumer goods prices including rent comparing to New York City while the Groceries Index is an estimation of grocery prices in the city compared to New York City.

The Restaurants Index is a comparison of prices of meals and drinks in restaurants and bars compared to NYC while the Local Purchasing Power shows relative purchasing power in buying goods and services in a given city for the average net salary in that city. If domestic purchasing power is 40, this means that the inhabitants of that city with an average salary can afford to buy on an average 60% less goods and services than New York City residents with an average salary.

Here’s How These Caribbean Countries Stack Up

Country Cost Of Living Plus Rent Index Groceries Index, Restaurants Index, Local Purchasing Power

Barbados/61.17- 89.23 -78.91- 30.74

The Bahamas /61.51 -70.63- 83.61- 46.07

Puerto Rico /45.89- 70.31- 58.23- 61.16

Cuba /37.31 -47.74 -35.24- 1.28

Trinidad & Tobago /37.28- 53.37- 53.78- 34.85

Jamaica /35.87- 54.27- 34.69 -28.01

Belize/ 32.74 -47.64- 36.47- 42.38

Guyana/ 30.78 -52.37- 44.43- 15.87

Dominican Republic/ 27.15- 37.66 -34.55- 18.80


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July 13, 2021


“It’s a hidden gem that’s no longer hidden”: Grenada tourism execs on the path ahead


By: Kathryn Folliott


TORONTO — Grenada, better known as the Spice Island of the Caribbean, is looking to capitalize on its differentiators as it forges a strong path out of the pandemic.

Grenada Tourism Authority’s new CEO, Petra Roach, says Grenada’s natural assets will play a key role in campaigns for the island going forward.

“It’s a hidden gem that’s no longer hidden”: Grenada tourism execs on the path ahead

GTA Chairman Barry Collymore (left) and CEO Petra Roach (right) with Minister of Tourism Dr. Clarice Modeste Curwen

“We have to give definition to what our natural assets are, our competitive advantage,” says Roach. “People know about Grenada, they know it’s an island in the Caribbean, but they don’t know that value proposition, that experiential proposition.”

Disney World

Roach was introduced as the Grenada Tourism Authority’s CEO at a recent virtual brunch and media briefing.

While she’s new to her role at the GTA, Roach is well known in the industry, most recently from her 19 years at Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI).

While ‘Pure Grenada, the Spice of the Caribbean’ has been the destination’s tagline for several years, the GTA may be looking to bring ‘The Spice Island’ messaging to forefront again, to highlight Grenada’s special offering among the Caribbean islands.

Beach vacations still fuel Grenada’s tourism industry, but there’s an advantage to showcasing the island’s other strengths too, says Roach. The island’s spice trade, and its gorgeous gardens, are just the beginning. “We need to stop being lumped into just a beach holiday,” she said.

Travellers heading to Grenada will find an outline of the island’s health and safety protocols at https://www.puregrenada.com/travel-advisory/.

A ‘Pure Safe Travel Authorization Certificate’ is needed by each traveller, including children, arriving in Grenada. Fully vaccinated travellers are only required to quarantine for 48 hours, pending a negative PCR test on entry. A PCR test within three days of arrival is also required.

Grenada has navigated the pandemic exceptionally well, with only 162 confirmed cases since January 2020, and one death.

The protocols are in place to protect travellers, and residents, said Barry Collymore, Chairman of the Grenada Tourism Authority. “Grenada’s tourism is not just about come and visit. It’s about come and visit and be safe,” he said at the briefing.

Grenada’s Minister of Tourism is also a doctor, boosting the island’s strong position on safe visits, added Collymore.

Minister of Tourism Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen was at the briefing.

“Grenada is no longer the best kept secret,” Dr. Modeste-Curwen said about the island’s growing popularity. “It’s a hidden gem that is no longer hidden. Now is the time to show our strength, our resilience, our beauty and our ability to compete, both regionally and internationally.”

The Grenada Tourism Authority’s website with more information about Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, can be found here.


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July 08, 2021


New fee suggested for cruise, land visitors


Avatar-Article by

Barbados Today 


One regional tourism official is recommending that Barbados and other tourism dependent Caribbean states charge cruise and land tourists a “resilience fee” as part of a solution for raising funds to create a more sustainable tourism product.

This was one of several proposals put forward recently during the final in a five-part series of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Future Tourism Regional Dialogue. The theme was Sustainable Solutions.

The St Lucia-based Karolin Troubetzkoy, Executive Director of the Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain resorts, outlined several measures she said regional tourism destinations could use to enhance their offerings and make them more sustainable.

Warning of the need to avoid duplication of efforts, she called for better information sharing and streamlining of efforts.

Troubetzkoy also recommended the matching of tourism-related projects with funding agencies, more accessible and innovative funding mechanisms, and better utilisation of existing national conservation and tourism enhancement funds.

“There definitely is a need to create sustainable tourism development committees. I see this as a joining of forces between national conservations funds, ministries of tourism, tourism boards and hotel associations, so that we can set the goals and identify together what are the low hanging fruits,” she said.

Pointing to examples of blue or green resilience bonds and debt conversion as some ways to help raise funds and make the sector more resilient, she also called for a “resilience fee” to be charged on visitors to the region, especially cruise visitors.

“If we don’t want to reinvent the wheel let us figure out how we can we take advantage of national conservation funds . . . that are already in existence or other funding bodies such as tourism enhancement funds.

The models of tourism enhancement funds vary from country to country, but the majority of them tackle stay-over visitors and not necessarily cruise visitors,” she said.

“There is no doubt that in the future we should discuss and there should be some sort of resilience fee payable not only by stay-over visitors, but also cruise visitors to the region.

Those of us familiar with the history of Caribbean tourism know how difficult it has been to negotiate with the cruise industry when it comes to fees, but perhaps it took the pandemic to shift that needle,” she said.

The senior hotelier also called for greater use of new and innovative digital payment platforms within the sector.

She also advocated for regional tourism organisations to be given greater support from member states so they could “fulfill their purpose, which is often hindered by a lack of capacity or available finance”.

She told the online gathering that despite being mature tourism destinations, Caribbean islands still had several “big ticket challenges” and hindrances that could easily be tackled through private/public sector collaboration.

She said some of those challenges related to renewable energy and energy efficiency, wastewater management, fresh water management and harvesting, plastic reduction and recycling, waste reduction and food waste reduction and greenhouse gas emission.

She argued that in order to address those challenges, several hindrances must first be dealt with. She pointed to the need for the removal of restrictions on the amount of renewable energy power allowed to be fed into the national grid, and the removal of restrictions on recycling and waste management.

“We are also affected often by the election political cycle of four to five years as this has shown to affect the continuity of progress and process. We have also noticed very often, duplication of efforts where we lose sight at the end of the sustainability tunnel with too many initiatives out there,” she said.

During the session, officials also recommended broad based social, environmental and economic development, the encouragement of informal businesses to become formal, improvement in governance structures and industry standards, and careful planning and monitoring of measures, in an effort to ensure sustainability and competitiveness. [email protected]


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June 10, 2021


Barbados reiterates for change to criteria used to assist development


By Caribbean Times NYC -June 6, 2021


Prime Minister Mia Mottley addressing UN conference

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados– Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley has renewed her call for an agreement on a global vulnerability index to replace the historical per capita income criteria used to assist developing countries.

Participating in the virtual 20th Session of the High-Level Committee on South-South Cooperation at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Mottley said Barbados’ classification as a middle-income country had meant that for more than a decade, there had been limited access to concessional development funding.

She told the conference that ends later on Friday that a multidimensional vulnerability index will allow for the inclusion of more than just income-based criteria to assess eligibility for concessionary finance.

“We have been advocating throughout the last few years that this needs to change and that we need more inclusive mechanisms that will allow our countries to benefit from the concessional funds that are available indeed….

“We have called for a more enabling global environment to consider the unique vulnerabilities faced by countries such as ours that are small island developing states. What we need is a fairer measure of that vulnerability.

“As chair of the Development Committee, I have been making this call, and again I am calling for agreement on a Multidimensional Vulnerability Index, which would replace historical per capita income,” Mottley told the conference.

She said that the per capita income measurement was unfairly applied in many instances to small island developing states, which were on the frontline of different levels of vulnerabilities, namely financial, social, and environmental.

“We have been arguing this issue of vulnerability for over three decades, and we believe that it is now ripe for us to see movement on this criteria, largely because we see the vulnerabilities…. It is therefore imperative that we harness South-South solidarity and action to reshape it.”

Prime Minister Mottley told the conference that Barbados would be hosting UNCTAD 15 (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) from October 3- 8 this year, using a blended format.

It will be held under the theme “From Inequality and Vulnerability to Prosperity for all,” and Mottley said it would offer the nations of the world a platform to devise new ways to use trade as an enabler of sustainable development.

“We have been placed off track in the last 16 months because of this awful pandemic. Therefore, it is…critical that we meet to see how we can do these things to achieve this enabling of sustainable development through trade as we go forward.

“We also believe the conference will play a pivotal role in supporting and strengthening South-South cooperation through trade integration, as well as regional, sub-regional and inter-regional economic integration,” she added.

Mottley said the South-South cooperation had already generated benefits for many countries during this global COVID-19 crisis.

She noted that Barbados had also received assistance from several countries, including those in this region, United Arab Emirates, and China


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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)


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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.


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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.

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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)

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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)


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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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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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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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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.


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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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