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.

St. Kitts Sets a High Standard at the Start of Caribbean Week

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts  – Rapidly becoming known as “the” Caribbean destination to watch, St. Kitts started off Caribbean Week in New York on a high note, hosting an exclusive media event at the chic new Park Hyatt hotel and attending select high-profile events throughout New York City.

Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Mr. Lindsay F.P. Grant, said, “Caribbean Week in New York provides an excellent platform for connecting with key partners and target audiences. In addition to attending CTO functions, we were able to arrange a series of meetings and events showcasing St. Kitts wherein we could tell the story of why the island is a rising star in the Caribbean and globally.”

On Monday, June 1, 2015, St. Kitts hosted an invitation-only cocktail reception and plated dinner at the Park Hyatt hotel in New York City for select members of the media from top tier publications, over which Minister Grant presided. Publications with high-ranking editors in attendance at the event included Departures, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, AFAR, Saveur, BlackBook, About.com Luxury, Endless Vacation and Upscale, to name a few. With the guest list limited to a small, intimate group, attending editors all had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with Minister Grant and other St. Kitts tourism representatives including St. Kitts Tourism Authority CEO Racquel Brown about the island’s tourism product including its history, culture, new developments, strategic tourism plan and why it is uniquely special.

Pictured above: Minister Grant is welcomed into the Saveur Test Kitchen, where he would be treated to a special lunch created solely for the occasion of his visit.
Pictured above: Minister Grant is welcomed into the Saveur Test Kitchen, where he would be treated to a special lunch created solely for the occasion of his visit.

In addition to hosting the media dinner, Minister Grant and the St. Kitts Tourism team held meetings with editorial and publishing partners over the past two days, with additional meetings and events scheduled to take place throughout the week.

Pictured above: Minister Grant (center) greets members of the Diaspora hailing from St. Kitts at the CTO Caribbean Week Diaspora Forum held on Tuesday, June 2, 2015.
Pictured above: Minister Grant (center) greets members of the Diaspora hailing from St. Kitts at the CTO Caribbean Week Diaspora Forum held on Tuesday, June 2, 2015.
Pictured above: Minister Grant stands for a photo with Ellen Asmodeo-Giglio, publisher of AFAR, at a by-invitation-only event held in her home overlooking New York City’s iconic Central Park.
Pictured above: Minister Grant stands for a photo with Ellen Asmodeo-Giglio, publisher of AFAR, at a by-invitation-only event held in her home overlooking New York City’s iconic Central Park.

About St. Kitts:
St. Kitts is currently ranked, with sister island Nevis, at #3 on a list of the Best Islands in the World, #3 on a list of the Best Caribbean Vacations, and #7 on a list of the Best Beach Honeymoon Destinations in the World, #8 on a list of Best Caribbean Honeymoons, and #8 on a list of the Best Affordable Caribbean Destinations by US News & World Report.
Located in the northern Leeward Islands of the Caribbean, it offers a diverse tourism product developed from the destination’s natural beauty, cultural heritage and rich history. The island’s stunning variety of tourism attractions include hiking through the tropical rainforest, riding the scenic railway that connects the island’s former sugar plantations, visiting the Caribelle Batik factory, and touring Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, the only man-made UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Eastern Caribbean. Among the more traditional vacation pastimes available are watersports, golf, shopping, tennis, dining, gaming at St. Kitts’ exclusive casino or simply relaxing on a sandy beach. Accommodations range from intimate plantation inns to larger hotels and resorts.
For more information about St. Kitts, please contact the St. Kitts Tourism Authority toll free from the US at 1-800-582-6208 or from Canada 1-888-395-4887, e-mail info@stkittstourism.kn, visit www.stkittstourism.kn, or connect on Facebook, Twitter and/or YouTube.

CTO Hosts Networking Evening for UK Travel Industry

CTO’s director of marketing, UK/Europe Carol Hay (L) meets a buyer
CTO’s director of marketing, UK/Europe Carol Hay (L) meets a buyer

LONDON, UK  – Over 50 buyers attended The Caribbean Tourism Organization’s dedicated MICE networking evening for UK buyers held recently.

By partnering with MICE specialist, Global Connect, the event which took place at Gordon Ramsay’s Heddon Street Kitchen, was the first of its kind for the CTO to showcase what the region has to offer UK buyers.

It proved to be a great success with many partners reporting new enquiries and business leads coming directly as a result of their attendance.

To build on this success, the CTO is aiming to arrange a series of informal networking events throughout the year to directly drive business for members and help develop a strong MICE database of UK & European MICE Buyers.

Carol Hay, director of marketing UK and Europe, Caribbean Tourism Organization, says, “We were really impressed with the quality of the buyers who attended the event and many of the partners have already started to receive leads for potential new business. We wanted to make sure that the event delivered a return on investment for our partners, as well as providing a setting for introductions to some of the MICE market’s key decision makers. We know that the region has a lot to offer groups and we will continue to execute our strategy to attract more group business to the Caribbean.’’

The event was a follow up to the CTO’s recent MICE masterclass held in March to inform some of the CTO’s members on best practice within the market. The CTO plans to host its first MICE fam trip by the end of the year for UK buyers.

Partners who attended the event were:

Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority
Bahamas Tourist Office
Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc.
Boucan by Hotel Chocolat, Saint Lucia
Harlequin Hotel & Resorts
Jamaica Tourist Board
Pineapple, Luxury Hotel Specialists (representing  Cobblers Cove, Barbados & Carlisle Bay, Antigua) Resort Marketing International (Representing Occidental Hotels & Resorts, Elite Island Resorts & Sun Group Hotels)
St. Kitts Tourism Authority
Saint Lucia Tourist Board
Sandals Resorts
Trinidad & Tobago Tourist Office
Viceroy Anguilla
Virgin Atlantic
Windjammer Landing, Saint Lucia

UK Buyers interested in learning more about the Caribbean’s MICE product should contact the Caribbean Tourism Organization on 020 8948 0057 or email Lorraine Grant at lgrant@caribtourism.co.uk to register their interest.

Romance is Back at CTO’s Caribbean Week


Tatiana Byron
Tatiana Byron

NEW YORK, NY –The Caribbean Tourism Organization is once again injecting a little romance into Caribbean Week New York. For the second year running, the region’s tourism development agency has retained Wedding Salon, the planners of United States bridal tradeshows for the luxury market, to organize a Romance Pavilion at the grandest Caribbean tourism event in New York.

The Romance Pavilion is an opportunity for engaged couples seeking a romantic honeymoon or destination wedding to connect with renowned Caribbean resorts, countries, and travel agents.

Wedding Salon, a partnership between American event planner, Tatiana Byron, and Martha Stewart Weddings, organizes high-end weddings and luxury bridal shows. Their shows attract thousands of brides-to-be, celebrities, and socialites seeking to discover the latest trends and meet with the top vendors.

“Destination weddings are on the rise with one in four couples getting married in a locations far from their residence. The Caribbean Romance Pavilion provides couples with the opportunity to speak to vendors and decision makers that would otherwise be a flight away. It’s comforting getting to do some of the planning face to face,” said Ms. Byron.

Over 300 couples have already registered to attend the event, where they will meet the top local vendors from the Caribbean who will help plan these couple’s destination wedding or honeymoon.

It will be held on Wednesday 3 June from 5:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. at Ez Studios on 325 West 37th Street, New York. The programme will include a refreshment station, Beautini makeup trials, a flower adorned canopy by QG Floral , Glamour Closet designer gown previews, Artemix Tattoos, M2M DJs, door prizes and luxury swag bags with surprise products such as Essie and OPI.

Caribbean Week New York is a series of business meetings and consumer events organized by the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s New York office to showcase the warmth, spirit and vibrancy of the Caribbean. In addition to direct contact with consumers, it also provides extensive media exposure for participating CTO members and partners.

For more information about the Romance Pavilion and Caribbean Week New York visit www.CaribbeanWeek.com, email CaribbeanWeek@caribtourism.com, call (212) 635-9530, or connect on Twitter @CaribbeanWeekNY and on www.facebook.com/caribbeanweekny. Caribbean Week sponsors and supporters include by 5*Cap Est lagoon & Spa Resort – Martinique, American Express, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, ASM, Academy Engraving, Association of Travel Marketing Executives, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Caribbean Airlines, Caribbean News Service, Caribbean Open Tour – Martinique; CarnivalInfo.com, Cayman Islands, CitiTech Solutions, Conde Nast, Curacao, Dominica, Grace Foods, Haiti, Jamaica, Laura Davidson Public Relations, Lou Hammond & Associates, Manhattan Beer, Martinique, MarryCaribbean.com, Montserrat, The New York Times, Puerto Rico, Routes, St. Kitts, Saint Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Martin, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, The Atrebor Group, Travel + Leisure, Trinidad & Tobago, TripAdvisor, Unique Vacations/Sandals Inc, US Virgin Islands and Wyndham New Yorker.

For more information on the Caribbean Tourism Organization please visit www.OneCaribbean.org. Get the latest CTO updates on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ctotourism. Connect with CTO on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CaribbeanTourismOrganization.