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.

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.



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Sunday July 12, 2020


KINGSTON – Jamaica says it has welcomed more than 35 000 visitors since the island reopened its borders on June 15.

“We expect to have another 30 000 at the end of July, and that would bring us somewhere in the region of about US$80 million in foreign exchange,” said Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett,

The island’s airports and seaports were closed to all incoming travellers on March 24, as part of measures to contain the transmission of the coronavirus (COVID-19 that has infected 753 people and killed 10 others here.

That’s a start and I must tell you that I got a video message from one of our workers the first morning that she welcomed the first guest in the hotel, and it put tears to my eyes when she said, ‘I’m excited because I have guests’, and that’s what the reopening of the sector provides,” Bartlett said.

edmund-bartlettHe said that the protocols that were developed to safeguard workers, visitors and Jamaicans will be reviewed periodically, “to ensure our processes are safe, seamless and secure.

“To safeguard workers of the sector, we developed, through the Jamaica Centre for Tourism Innovation, a COVID-19 training video that highlights the health protocols they are to follow on a daily basis while they commute to and from work,” Bartlett said.

He noted too that 10 000 masks were distributed to vulnerable tourism workers “to help them stay safe and reduce the risk of spreading the disease”.

Bartlett said, globally, small and medium-sized tourism enterprises play a major role in most economies, particularly in developing countries.

“Here in Jamaica our tourism sector is dominated by a vast network of small and medium‐sized tourist enterprises (SMTEs), including artisans, craft vendors, attractions and tours, transportation, beauty shops and textiles, duty-free stores, restaurants and eateries, bed and breakfast, beauty shops and farmers.

“This vast network of SMTEs constitute the backbone of the sector, contributing significantly to the authenticity and quality of the tourism experience and enhancing the destination competitiveness,” he added.

Bartlett said that SMTEs also play an integral role in helping to retain higher earning on each dollar on the supply side by strengthening linkages. (CMC)


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Sunday July 05, 2020


Caribbean unveils initiatives to support tourism sector


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Fri June 19, 2020


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

CMC


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Fri June 19, 2020


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

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


CMC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Wed June 10, 2020


JAMAICA TRANSPORTS TRAVELERS WITH VIRTUAL CARE PACKAGE


Experience the Island of Jamaica from Home with Music, Food, & Drinks

KINGSTON, JAMAICA – June 10, 2020 – JAMAICA, Heartbeat of the World, has curated a care package to refresh the spirit and allow travelers to virtually experience its vibrant culture. Available through VisitJamaica’s Instagram and YouTube channels, the destination is offering an array of music, at-home-recipes, DIY spa treatments, and social media games, recreating Jamaica’s sights, sounds, and tastes for its travelers until the time is right again to travel.

Sounds

Music lovers can jam to uplifting tunes from the “Every Little Thing is Gonna Be Alright” Spotify playlist. The lively and rhythmic compilation of Jamaica’s most beloved songs is a reminder to keep our heads high with hits from Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Beenie Man and many more.

Sights

Puzzle Packs, Jamaica’s new interactive game on Instagram, has users guess a popular location in Jamaica by matching nine picturesque pieces to complete the puzzle. A new puzzle pack will launch each week for a month where five lucky winners will be chosen per week to have the chance to win a Vacation Box filled with goodies to help unwind and chill, ‘Jamaican style.’ The Puzzle Packs are set to launch on Thursday, June 11th.

Tastes

Aspiring home chefs and mixologists can try out new recipes and cocktails from renowned Jamaican chefs to add a little bit of the island to their kitchen. Recreate the two-time Food Network Chopped Champion, Chef Andre Fowles’ quick and savory pepper shrimp pasta recipe from the comforts of your own home. Test out sister chefs Suzanne and Michelle Rousseau’s Jamaican twist on a classic with a spicy creamy tomato soup and pepper grilled cheese with pepper jelly on hardo bread. For virtual happy hours and to celebrate another week of responsible social distancing, try a hand at Canadian-based Private Chef Noel Cunningham’s tropical beverage with his Blue Lagoon cocktail using vodka, blue curacao, and lemonade.

Relax

Spa aficionados can relax and unwind by turning on some ocean sounds and setting up a gentle breeze to create a luxury spa retreat from the comfort of home. For a nourishing body scrub, the Blackwell Rum brown sugar scrub applied during a warm shower will rejuvenate and refresh. This simple rum infused recipe combines two cups of golden-brown sugar, half cup of Blackwell Rum with one cup of heated coconut oil to soften and smooth the skin.

Through this virtual care package, the Jamaica Tourist Board aims to bring the island to its beloved travelers around the world until the destination can welcome them again in person.

Briahnna Gibson / Natalia Lopez

Finn Partners

[email protected]

For more information on Jamaica, please go to www.visitjamaica.com.


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Mon June 01, 2020


Caribbean braces for Hurricanes, Amid Pandemic


HAVANA, Cuba, June 1, 2020 (Reuters) – Ken Hutton is worried Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas where he lives is far from rebuilt after being devastated by Hurricane Dorian last year yet he is bracing for another hurricane season in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The business consultant feels lucky to have survived Dorian, which tore the hurricane shutters off his house and sucked out the windows.

Yet there is still no running water or power in his area – he relies on a generator and a well – and many of the organizations that had been helping to rebuild suspended work because of the pandemic.

“We are still in no position to be ready for another hurricane,” he told Reuters Tuesday. Already, the Caribbean has been hit by two tropical storms before the official start of the hurricane season on June 1, one of which started right over the Bahamas, Hutton added.

“There are lots of people walking around here now with post-traumatic stress disorder,” he said.

Hurricane Dorian caused $3.4 billion in damages – more than a quarter of the annual output of the Bahamas or the equivalent of the United States losing the combined outputs of California, Texas and Florida, according to the Inter-American Development Bank.

Across the Caribbean, island nations are now facing the double whammy of a hurricane season forecast to be more active than usual combined with a pandemic that has already drained public coffers and leveled tourism, one of its top earners.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week forecast 13-19 named storms this year, following 18 named storms last year and 15 in 2018, both above the average of 12.

But the Caribbean has used up much of the fiscal buffers it would usually have readied to respond to hurricane season, Caribbean Development Bank President Warren Smith said.

Countries have tapped typical sources of external emergency financing, like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), to respond to the coronavirus crisis, further limiting their funding options.

Meanwhile, new health protocols for hurricane season prep comes at an added cost. The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) has revised guidelines to prevent the virus’ spread, including social distancing, personal protective equipment and hand cleaning facilities in shelters, said CDEMA head Elizabeth Riley.

“We can’t put as many people into a shelter (with social distancing), which means we must have many more shelters available,” St Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet told Reuters.

ECONOMIC STORM

Caribbean nations have had to absorb the high costs of managing virus outbreaks even as they have lost revenue from the stop in tourism caused by border closures and lockdowns, while also being forced to provide a welfare safety net to more people.

The economic outlook does not look set to improve any time soon, with the Caribbean facing a regional contraction of 

6.2 % according to the IMF.

“Small island states rely heavily on tourism and remittances. Both are now at a standstill,” United Nations head Antonio Guterres said on Thursday. “Households that had a secure income are at imminent risk of poverty and hunger.”

He added that alleviating “crushing” debt “must be extended to all developing and middle-income countries” that request forbearance as they lose access to their main financial markets.

But it is not all doom and gloom. In Cuba, a meme went viral on social media in recent weeks appearing to present a duel for television airtime between the country’s chief epidemiologist and its most renowned weatherman as they cover the two crises.

The weatherman, Jose Rubiera, told Reuters much of what happens will depend on each storm’s route.

“One single hurricane can be devastating whereas you can have many that don’t hit,” he said. “It’s all very relative, but the one rule of thumb is to always be well prepared.”

(Reporting by Sarah Marsh in Havana and Rodrigo Campos in New York Additional Reporting by Sarah Peter in Castries, St Lucia, Nelson Acosta in Havana and Karin Strohecker in London Editing by Daniel Flynn and Aurora Ellis)


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Monday May 12, 2020


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About the Caribbean Tourism Organization

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

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


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Sun May 03, 2020


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


About the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA)

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

Visit www.caribbeanhotelandtourism.com.


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

Thurs April 30, 2020


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March 30, 2020


Tourism Minister confident that industry will rebound

CMC,

Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett has expressed confidence that the industry will rebound at some point – but it will not be a “business as usual” approach.

In a recent podcast on titled ‘Tourism Resilience and Recovery’, Bartlett said the coronavirus (COVID-19) will inevitably subside, but how quickly will depend on guidelines being followed and citizens putting country above selfish impulses.

“As we continue to fight this crisis together, we are reminded that we have been here before and like we overcame in the past, so shall we again,” he said.

“How quickly we do so will depend significantly on the extent to which we, as citizens, are able to act selflessly and obey precautionary measures, on the one hand, while the State and the private sector must work collaboratively, on the other hand, to deploy resources and lead initiatives to encourage economic resilience as well as to help those who are suffering the greatest,” he added.

The Tourism Minister said that to this end, individuals must continue to practise social distancing and limit interactions that will increase exposure to infections.

“We must also continue to observe regulations about public gatherings, while desisting from circulating misinformation or fake news that can contribute to more panic and confusion,” he emphasised. (CMC)


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March 10, 2020


GOOD NEWS FROM THE BAHAMAS


FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, March 6, 2020 – The Bahamas continues to show the world why 7.2 million tourists visited the island nation in 2019. Five top-ten placements in USA Today 10Best’ 2020 Reader’s Choice Awards heralded the islands as having some of the best beach bars, restaurants, rum distilleries, golf courses and, of course, beaches in the Caribbean. New hotels and events coming to Bimini, Andros and Nassau means there is much excitement coming to The Bahamas.

AWARDS AND ACCOLADES

The Bahamas Wins Big in USA Today 10Best 2020 Caribbean Readers’ Choice Travel Awards –The Bahamas secured five top-ten placements in this year’s USA Today 10Best Caribbean Readers’ Choice Travel Awards. Tony Macaroni’s Conch Experience was voted one of the Best Caribbean Beach Bars; Banana Bay and Graycliff Restaurant were voted two of the Best Restaurants in the Caribbean; John Watling’s Distillery was voted one of the Best Caribbean Rum Distilleries; Sandals Emerald Bay Golf Course and Baha Mar Royal Blue Golf Course were voted two of the Best Caribbean Golf Courses and Tahiti Beach, Fortune Beach and Gold Rock Beach were voted some of the Caribbean’s Best Beaches.

NEWS

Grand Lucayan Sold – The Government of The Bahamas sold the Grand Lucayan on Monday, March 2 to a partnership between Royal Caribbean International and ITM (Bahamas Port Investments Ltd.). The partnership is expected to invest $250 million in the hotel and redevelopment of the cruise port, which will result in 3,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Overwater Bungalows Coming to Bimini – Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts is set to break ground on its first property in The Bahamas and Caribbean region this spring. Banyan Tree Illa Bimini Resort & Residences will feature 50 Maldives-style overwater bungalows and 54 luxury residences.

Kamalame Cay’s First Annual Poseidon Challenge – The luxury resort is partnering with Blue Tide Marine for the first annual Poseidon Challenge March 19 – 22, 2020. The invite-only two day series will feature rigorous challenges designed by Blue Tide Marine and inspired by their Navy SEAL and Special Operations training. Official race events include an ocean swim, canoe relay, trail runs, Frogman challenge, stand-up paddle race and more.

Atlantis’ Sensation Spring Break Beach Party – Atlantis, Paradise Island is debuting its first annual ‘Sensation Spring Break’ beach party with nightly entertainment at Aura Nightclub March 8 – 17, 2020. Headliners include Lil Jon, DJ Irie, Loud Luxury, Konflikt, Brandi Cyrus, Brooke Evers and Chase B.


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February 26, 2020


RECORD YEAR FOR CARIBBEAN TOURISM


~ The region registered its highest ever stayover and cruise arrivals numbers in 2019_

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (26Feb. 2020) - Sparked by robust recovery in the destinations that were affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, Caribbean tourism rebounded soundly to post record stayover and cruise arrivals in 2019.

Stayover arrivals grew by 4.4 per cent to reach 31.5 million, outpacing the international rate of growth of 3.8 per cent reported by the World Tourism Organization, and the highest growth rate in the Americas.

At the same time, cruise visits increased by 3.4 per cent to 30.2 million, representing the seventh consecutive year of growth.

In presenting the Caribbean Tourism Performance Report for 2019 in an online presentation this morning, Neil Walters, the acting secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) said this record performance was triggered by steep rises – as high as 80 per cent in the case of St. Maarten – in the hurricane affected countries.

“Overall, the destinations most impacted by the hurricanes in 2017 saw some of the highest rates of growth,” Walters said.

In addition to St. Maarten, all the worst-affected destinations reported double-digit growth. Anguilla was up by 74.9 per cent, the British Virgin Islands increased by 57.3 per cent, Dominica rose by 51.7 per cent, the US Virgin Islands saw a38.1 per cent improvement and Puerto Rico increased by 31.2 per cent.

After two years of decline, the US was the best performing market in 2019, registering an increase of 10 per cent to reach a record 15.5 million visitors.

However, Canada, from which there was sustained growth in each of the last three years, was sluggish in 2019 at 0.4 per cent, equivalent to 3.4 million tourist visits, Walters revealed, who added that while arrivals from Europe were down, the intra-regional market was on the up.

“The European market dipped by 1.4 per cent from 5.9 million in 2018 to 5.8 million. The UK was down by 5.6 per cent to approximately 1.3 million visitors. On the other hand, intra-Caribbean travel increased by 7.4 per cent to reach 2.0 million, while the South American market declined by 10.4 per cent to 1.5 million,” the acting secretary general told the online audience.

However, Walters warned that while 2019 was a great year overall for Caribbean tourism, there are a few potential hurdles on the horizon – such as environmental, political and social uncertainty and the impact of climate change - that could impact its performance this year. These concerns notwithstanding, the CTO predicts growth of one to two per cent this year.

To view the presentation please click on the following link: https://www.facebook.com/CaribbeanTourismOrganization/videos/907374246366046/


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


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February 14, 2020


St Vincent’s Largest Ever Tourism Project – a Five-Star Luxury Resort – Breaks Ground


St Vincent and The Grenadines is embarking on its most ambitious tourism project to date – the Royal Mill Hotel Luxury Resort and Residences which is set to be a premier 5-Star private community and contender among luxury resorts in the region.

The single largest private sector tourism investment in the country is being undertaken by A&A Capital.

And Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves expects it to have huge spin-off potential.

“Upwards of 400 families island-wide are expected to benefit directly or indirectly from the hotel. I anticipate a major shift in our tourism economies and wealth creation through direct employment, taxes and National Insurance contributions,” he said.

“Though St Vincent and the Grenadines entered the mass tourism market late, it is evident through other hotels on the island that our country’s product is of excellent stature. Overall, I expect the Royal Mill to be an immense contribution to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Currently, the staff base at the construction site is about 70 workers, and that is expected to increase considerably to more than 200 in the coming months. The local job creation from the project ranges from site engineers to foremen, masons, carpenters and other labourers.

The US$60 million Royal Mill Hotel Luxury Resort will comprise 15 independent and private residence homes, while the resort will provide 18 high-rise apartment units and two rooftop penthouse units. The property will house a business centre, a conference/meeting centre, a gym, an aqua centre, an exclusive spa, a pool area and bar, an urban lounge viewing the ocean, a rooftop bar and restaurant and parking for more than 60 vehicles.

The residence portion of the project has an expected completion date of December 2020, while the hotel section is due to be done by mid-2022.

Principal Investor and co-founder of A & A Capital, Alex Lodde said he was happy to see the pace of the new development, and the cooperation and assistance of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Government, and was looking forward to the completion of the project.

CEO and Co-Founder of A&A Capital, Adem Adem, added that he was excited about the Royal Mill Hotel project and looked forward to it benefitting the country.

“I have been visiting St Vincent and the Grenadines for the past 15 years and I never thought I would have seen this day and our dream has come true. I am grateful for the commitment of my team, the support of family and the warm welcome of the people and the leadership of St Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said.

“It is important to note that the most critical aspect of the project for us is ensuring that the people of the country benefit meaningfully from a trickle-down economy and are always safe and secure while employed at the hotel. We see the Royal Mill Hotel spanning generations of St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

He further assured that A&A Capital was strongly committed to and invested in the completion and longevity of the development.

“One of the major proofs of commitment is the levels of employment already realized as well as the importation and purchase of millions of dollars’ worth of major equipment and material, both for construction of the hotel and for use by St Vincent and the Grenadines. We realized the need for heavy-duty equipment on the island and felt that the country can benefit from our equipment resources as well. We have also purchased over 10 million dollars’ worth of integral material which would fulfil the completion of the hotel,” he said.

The Bank of St Vincent and the Grenadines (BOSVG) has given its backing to the project. The bank, through its Managing Director Derry Williams, has acted as a principal collaborator.

“As a bank, we must provide assurances to investors coming into any unknown to take investment risks. From our end, it’s not just about conducting the investor’s transactions effectively but also providing feedback from the banking community, the trajectory of the economy and governing policies. The passion, thoughtfulness and commitment to developing St Vincent and the Grenadines were also very important. A&A Capital has proven, to date, their commitment to the project and seeing it to its absolute fruition and this is truly good news for our country,” Williams said.

Camillo Gonsalves, Minister of Finance and Parliamentary Representative for East St George – the constituency in which the project is located – this is the exact type of tourism that the country is interested in leveraging.

“One which brings people into the island and will realize an entire set of ancillary spin-offs which will benefit the economy. Already, the construction sectors are profiting from the construction phase of the project,” he said.

In addition to the Royal Mill Hotel Development, A&A Capital has acquired the family-owned Grand View Hotel. Renovation works have already started on the 20-room boutique hotel.

“This boutique property will be ideally positioned for tourists, regional travellers, businesses and organizations that wish to host conferences on the island. It will also play host to special events and weddings….Works are progressing rapidly to have the small property ready for guests in April 2020,” Lodde said.


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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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