Tourism/Travel

IATA Interested in SXM Aviation Training Academy

SIMPSON BAY, St. Maarten — The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is showing keen interest in partnering with the Princess Juliana International Airport, SXM, with its Aviation Training Academy. This was revealed at a recent meeting held between a delegation of SXM led by managing director Regina LaBega and representatives of IATA’s Training and Development Institute (ITDI) upon the latter’s invitation, at their regional office in Miami.
ITDI expressed great interest in exploring SXM’s needs, but more importantly wanted to determine how it could be part of SXM aviation training plans through a possible partnership. ITDI offers training in all areas related to the aviation industry except for the training of pilots.

L-R: Regina LaBega, SXM Managing Director, Suzy Kartokromo, SXM Acting Manager, Customer Service Department, Gurjit Gill, Manager, Training Partners and Business Development, Theresa Light,  Manager, Regional Training Center The Americas  (both of ITDI), and Lionel van der Walt, IATA Area Manager for the Caribbean. (SXM photo)
L-R: Regina LaBega, SXM Managing Director, Suzy Kartokromo, SXM Acting Manager, Customer Service Department, Gurjit Gill, Manager, Training Partners and Business Development, Theresa Light, Manager, Regional Training Center The Americas (both of ITDI), and Lionel van der Walt, IATA Area Manager for the Caribbean. (SXM photo)

According to LaBega, SXM Airport is interested in identifying training areas that would set it aside from the rest of the pack. The discussions therefore focused primarily on the excellent opportunity that presents itself due to the fact that the entire region is in need of an aviation training academy, especially in filling the void in training for the French Caribbean.
“As a multi-lingual destination, SXM can fill this void,” LaBega said.
The possible partnership with IATA in establishing the Aviation Training Academy would result in SXM Airport being fully endorsed by IATA and Airport Council International (ACI) as an IATA Regional Training Host. This in turn would mean that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) would certify SXM Aviation Training Academy.
As an IATA Regional Training Host, the SXM Aviation Training Academy would be authorized to host IATA classroom courses on its premises, and thus be included in the global IATA classroom schedule.
The Academy would also create high-skilled jobs for potential trainers and enhance business in a number of sectors, such as accommodation, car rentals, restaurants, supermarkets, etc. It would similarly attract business from the region, as trainees from all across the Caribbean would be able to make use of it.
“Some European countries have also indicated that they would consider training their staff at our Academy when established instead of having to do so in Miami and other areas that may be more expensive,” LaBega disclosed.
For all of this to happen, however, support and cooperation from the Civil Aviation Authority of St. Maarten would be critical, as would be the full cooperation of government.
“St. Maarten’s Civil Aviation Authority are completely on board with regards to this plan,” LaBega said.
ITDI, in its vision of becoming the global aviation-training provider of choice, offers top quality training solutions to aviation and travel professionals worldwide. Its approach is to offer practical and relevant training for professional development in areas such as Air Navigation Services, Ground Operations, Airport Planning, Management and Operations, Cargo, Safety, Dangerous Goods Regulations, and Aviation Law amongst others.
With over 430 Global Training Partners in over 90 countries, ITDI has trained more than 95,000 students through its highly sought after Classroom, Distance Learning, Virtual Classroom and Online training courses.

Photo caption:
L-R: Regina LaBega, SXM Managing Director, Suzy Kartokromo, SXM Acting Manager, Customer Service Department, Gurjit Gill, Manager, Training Partners and Business Development, Theresa Light, Manager, Regional Training Center The Americas (both of ITDI), and Lionel van der Walt, IATA Area Manager for the Caribbean. (SXM photo)

“Cuba has been open for a long time” says Airport Director

PhotoCaption: Regina LaBega (3rd R), at the Airports and Airport Executives Forum of the Airports  Conference of the Americas, held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, August 11 – 13, 2015. (SXM photo)
PhotoCaption: Regina LaBega (3rd R), at the Airports and Airport Executives Forum of the Airports
Conference of the Americas, held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, August 11 – 13, 2015. (SXM photo)

SIMPSON BAY, St. Maarten —“Cuba has been open for quite a long time, albeit to the European, Canadian and Latin American markets in particular. Even travelers from the US have been finding their way into Cuba, sometimes via Canada and other destinations.”

This was the opinion expressed by the managing director of the Princess Juliana International Airport, SXM, Regina LaBega at the Airport and Airport Executives Forum of the Airports Conference of the Americas, held in San Juan, Puerto Rico last Wednesday.

“Even before the historic thawing of relations between the US and Cuba, it was frequently predicted that the so-called re-opening of Cuba would adversely affect tourism in the rest of the Caribbean. However, the facts so far have not borne this out,” said LaBega.

She explained that “in the short term, the effects of the normalization of relations between the US and Cuba are not so visible especially because the process will take some time.” LaBega was an invited guest speaker at the forum of airport executives.

“The cruise sector may begin to feel the impact several months down the road, given the proximity of Cuba to the US and the expected ‘rush’ to see Cuba before it is transformed by the same US tourism which it had been loathe to embrace wholeheartedly in the past,” she said.

“In my opinion,” LaBega continued, “some of the predictions and expectations would seem exaggerated because there is no indication at the moment that the regime in Cuba would drastically change its policy in terms of tourism development. Besides, the infrastructural investments that would be needed to accommodate the influx that is forecast would take several years if not decades to build. These include modern airports.”

All of these, in her view, could as a matter of fact, open up opportunities for countries like Jamaica, which because of their proximity to Cuba, could become a hub for that country. The forum also addressed issues such as the possible expansion of the use of kiosks and programs such as Global Entry in Latin America and the Caribbean and the question of Government Expectations and Business Realities and Capital Improvement Limitations.

LaBega expressed doubts about the feasibility of the Trusted Traveler program in Latin America and the Caribbean “at the moment, given the international climate and the widespread concerns about illegal immigration.”

After listing reasons why she believed the program may not be well-received in the region at present, she added: “What, on the other hand, many Caribbean countries would look favorably on would be a US pre-clearance regime such as exists in Aruba for example.” “We in St. Maarten are very interested in this, as it offers an attractive incentive for US visitors who on returning to the US would not have to be cleared by the US CBP again,” said the SXM managing director.

Regarding government expectations and business realities, LaBega explained the corporate structure of the Princess Juliana International Airport Operating Company, PJIAE, which limits direct government intervention and offers the company the flexibility to raise its own funds.

“In my own experience,” she said, “the best way to deal with government involvement is to run a professional, profitable, and transparent operation which serves the needs of the community and which projects itself positively on the international scene. It means being a good corporate citizen, and allowing the result of your stewardship to speak for itself. Above all, it requires that one deals with delicate political sensitivities in a mature manner, but always keeping the interest of the company at the forefront.”

“It was a very interesting and quite interactive forum,” LaBega said this week, adding that several participants agreed with her positions, although there were those who held different views as well. Regina LaBega (3rd R), at the Airports and Airport Executives Forum of the Airports Conference of the Americas, held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, August 11 – 13, 2015. (SXM photo)

10 Ways Caribbean Luxury Brands Can Tap into the US$1.1 Trillion Market

A stellar retail experience both offline and on, top notch products and a killer marketing strategy are a few of the ways one digital strategist believes the Caribbean can attract more of the trillion dollar luxury goods market.
A recent article via ForbesLife indicates that in 2014, global expenditure on luxury goods amounted to just over US$1.1 trillion but how much of that is coming the way of Caribbean brands? According to Ursula Petula Barzey of Caribbean & Co., a luxury brand website, not nearly as much as there could be.
Of the more than trillion dollars spent on luxury items, US$278.1 billion was spent on personal luxury goods such as perfume, jewelry, clothing and accessories. Almost US$30 billion was spent in the Caribbean last year but primarily on accommodations. Barzey believes that number would be greater if more regional luxury brands would up their game. “Caribbean personal luxury goods brands need to begin thinking about their products from a global perspective, without the limitations of seasons and boundaries,” she explains.
The digital strategist said a “plan of action is needed to generate greater awareness and entice visitors to purchase personal luxury goods from the region.” The campaigns, she explained should not only target tourists with no connection to the region, but also the Caribbean diaspora many of whom visit each year and total approximately 10 million+ worldwide. “The Caribbean diaspora is extremely loyal with many fairly affluent and would make great ambassadors for the region’s emerging luxury goods brands,” revealed Barzey.
To capitalize, Barzey indicates that each Caribbean personal luxury goods brand needs to do these ten critical things:

Ursula Barzey heads Moxee Marketing, a digital media company based in the UK.
Ursula Barzey heads Moxee Marketing, a digital media company based in the UK.

1. Continue creating products of a superior standard.
2. Smarten up their branding — logo and design.
3. Register trademarks and domain names if they haven’t already done so.
4. Ensure that their company website is robust — ideally one with e-commerce functionality.
5. Improve packaging so that it meets and exceeds the requirements for target international markets.
6. Have production and manufacturing systems in place to meet growing demands.
7. Hire and train staff with a view to providing excellent customer service online as well as in person.
8. Engage in public relations and content marketing strategies on their website and through other credible sources to increase visibility.
9. Attend region and international shows to market and promote their products.
10. Strengthen existing partnerships and develop new ones. Going Global is a team effort!
“Luxury is aspirational, and so consumers need to be drawn in with stellar branding and quality for the premium price being charged. Also, marketing and promotions is necessary as no one is going to seek out a brand while on holiday in the Caribbean if they don’t know it exists,” adds the strategist. To read the original article and get more tips on attracting luxury customers at www.caribbeanandco.com.

– See more at: http://www.caribbeanandco.com/increasing-awareness-for-caribbean-personal-luxury-goods-brands/#sthash.Bxk2B5Ai.dpuf

Caribbean & Co. Photo
Caribbean & Co. Photo

Caribbean tourism records 17th straight quarter of growth

NEW YORK – At a Caribbean week New York news conference earlier this evening, the CTO chairman and Barbados tourism minister, Richard Sealy, reported that the Caribbean “bolted out of the gates” in 2015 with a six per cent rise in tourist arrivals in the first quarter when compared to the same period last year. There were nearly eight million visits to the region, which recorded the 17th straight quarter of growth. The following are the key points of the chairman’s report:

Travel agents visit the St. Kitts desk during an event at Caribbean Week 2015 in New York. (CTO Photo)
Travel agents visit the St. Kitts desk during an event at Caribbean Week 2015 in New York. (CTO Photo)

The Caribbean continues its rapid growth rate from 2014 when arrivals grew by 5.3 per cent to 26.3 million visitors. We’ve bolted out of the gates with a six per cent rise in arrivals over the first quarter of 2014. Arrivals to the Caribbean estimated to be 7.9 million in the first three months.
This is the fifth consecutive year in which arrivals grew during the first quarter and the 17th quarter of continuous growth.
The United States market continues to be our most productive. Arrivals from the US increased by 5.6 per cent.
The Canadian market grew an equally impressive 5.4 per cent with Cuba and Dominican Republic among the destinations recording higher levels of arrivals.
In the accommodation sector, all leading hotel performance indicators were positive.
There was a modest increase of 1.3 per cent in the number room available in the first quarter, the largest increase for this quarter in the last seven years.
Historical first quarters highs were also recorded for Room Occupancy (77.8%), Average Daily Rate (US$239.84) and Revenue per Available Room (US188.25).
In cruise, passenger arrivals slowed in the first quarter with the Caribbean registering a 3.4 per cent rise, compared to a 4.3 per cent growth in 2014 over 2013,
An estimated 8.6 million cruise passengers visited the region in the first quarter.
The best performing destinations were Martinique (34.2%), Puerto Rico (26.2%), Antigua & Barbuda (18.6%) and Jamaica (15.9%).
The outlook for the remainder of the year is positive. Growth is expected to be moderate and uneven among member countries. However, overall tourist arrivals are now anticipated to rise at least six per cent over 2014.
In the cruise sector, the momentum gained in the first quarter could be reduced as cruise ships are repositioned away from the region.

In addition, the chairman touched on Cuba, declaring that Cuba is not a problem for the Caribbean Tourism Organization “…if any of our members can attract people to the region, it’s good for the region”.

You can download the video presentation by clicking on the “We Transfer” link below, or from the CTO TV at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Twm5pqVZUY&feature=youtu.be

Antigua and Barbuda Launch Caribbean Week with High Profile Event and Major Signings

NEW YORK– The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority started Caribbean Tourism Week with a splash by hosting the must-attend event of the city, with over 180 attendees including influential, top-tier leading media, and travel trade and executives.

The event was held to celebrate achievements of the past year of The Government of Antigua and Barbuda, including the appointment of Special Economic Envoy, Robert De Niro, as well as to launch Caribbean Week in New York, the largest and most effective event on the Caribbean tourism calendar. Featured publications included: Vanity Fair, Travel + Leisure, USA Today, New York Times, CBS News, and trades including Caribbean Journal, Travel Weekly and Travel Agent including too many to list.

The turnout was so positive that extra tables were set for the over-subscribed guests. The evening, featuring a cocktail hour and sit-down dinner, was held at the world-renowned ’21 Club,’ an influential location where every U.S. President since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has dined at frequently. Guests were treated to a live jazz band quartet as well as a 3-course meal with each choice named after a well-known location on Antigua and Barbuda.

The evening, hosted by The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority and the Honorable Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy, Asot Michael, was headlined by honored guests, Honorable Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Brown and Special Economic Envoy to Antigua and Barbuda, Robert De Niro. Other luminary guests included Ambassador Aubrey Webson and Ambassador Gilbert Boustany.

Opening the cocktail hour and welcoming guests to the Antigua and Barbuda Evening at Club 21, Mr. Robert De Niro, Honorable Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne and His Excellency Ambassador Aubrey Wesson (©Sean Zanni/PatrickMcMullan.com)
Opening the cocktail hour and welcoming guests to the Antigua and Barbuda Evening at Club 21, Mr. Robert De Niro, Honorable Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne and His Excellency Ambassador Aubrey Wesson (©Sean Zanni/PatrickMcMullan.com)

The Minister and Prime Minister’s spoke to the audience about the revolution of Antigua and Barbuda in becoming the economic powerhouse of the Eastern Caribbean. Achievements of the Government within the past year that were shared with the audience included: raising over $2billion in capital, strides in making the Citizenship by Investment Unit the most lucrative in the industry while maintaining the highest international security standards, promise for a total transformation of port facilities and downtown St. John’s, the imminent opening of the new airport terminal at V C Bird Airport making it the most modern airport in the Caribbean and increased airlift to the islands,

The event also featured the official signing and partnership between The Government of Antigua and Barbuda and the Sunwing Travel Group to develop a 500-room all-inclusive resort under the Royalton Luxury Resorts brand on the famed white sands of Deep Bay, Antigua. Construction will commence this summer on The Royalton Antigua Resort & Spa, as well as a residential complex with over 200 condominium units. Slated to open in 2017, this $400M development is expected to represent 2,000 new jobs for Antigua and a massive injection to the economy. The contract was signed by the Honorable Prime of Antigua and Barbuda Minister Gaston Browne, the Honorable Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy of Antigua and Barbuda, Asot Michael and CEO & President of Sunwing Travel Group, Stephen Hunter.

The Honorable Prime Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy Asot Michael summarized the importance and success of the evening, “With such a positive turnout of influentials and executives, who left with an infectious feeling of excitement and positivity about Antigua and Barbuda, and everything we are doing to achieve our vision of becoming the economic powerhouse of the Easter Caribbean, we fully expect this energy to proliferate across all networks – from tourism to business to investments.”

Minister Michael extrapolated on the benefits saying, “This was an incredibly important step for us to reassert ourselves in the North American market as the destination of choice: from leisure to investment and business to our Citizenship program. With the dedicated, loyal work of the entire North American Antigua and Barbuda team, our twin island nation can look forward to exponential positive benefits and returns for the coming months and years.”

About Antigua & Barbuda
Antigua (pronounced An-tee’ga) and Barbuda (Bar-byew’da) is located in the heart of the Caribbean Sea. The largest of the Leeward Islands, Antigua & Barbuda comprises 108-square miles. The 365 white and pink sand beaches, one for every day of the year, are just the beginning of the treasures that await visitors. Antigua’s rich history and spectacular topography provide a variety of popular sightseeing opportunities. Nelson’s Dockyard, the only remaining example of a Georgian fort commissioned by the British in 1755, is perhaps the most renowned landmark. Betty’s Hope, built in 1674, is the site of one of the first full-scale sugar plantations on Antigua, and offers a chance to step back into time by visiting the restored mills. Another unique attraction is Devil’s Bridge, located at the eastern tip of the island in Indian Town National Park, where Atlantic breakers have carved out a natural limestone arch.

For information about Antigua & Barbuda visit www.visitantiguabarbuda.com and follow us on TwitterFacebook ; Instagram.