Caribbean launches Travel.com portalListen /
The Caribbean Tourism Organization CTO on Thursday launched the new CaribbeanTravel.com website.
The CaribbeanTravel.com portal will revolutionize the planning process for consumers around the world looking to travel to the region for a Caribbean getaway.
In New York this week, Chairperson of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Beverly Nicholson-Dotty told UN Radio about the project.
Nicholson-Dotty: Am in New York specifically because we are re-launching Caribbean Travel.com which is a joint partnership between the public and private sector. The Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association – so the largest public or government entity in the region along with the largest private sector entity in the region are joined together and looking at how we can work more closely together to market the Caribbean as the ultimate warm weather destination year round.
Donn Bobb: What are the advantages of that?
Nicholson-Dotty: I think it's clear that 'high-tide floats all boats' that if we increase tourism to the region, it's going to be positive for all the countries of the Caribbean but also there's unity in strength and numbers and I think that if you look at what the world is spending to market tourism, it is clear that many of our countries don't have the resources to do this individually. By uniting our marketing efforts, we are able to leverage the region and its opportunities and our presence in exposure significantly really putting the spotlight on the region. And you know, if someone comes to Barbados this year and they come to St. Croix next year, or they go to The Bahamas this year and they go to St. Martin next year, I think that there are 32 opportunities for repeat visits to our region and In think that's what we really want to showcase- the diversity of our offering and the fact that you can come to the Caribbean many, many times and have varying experiences.
Donn Bobb: How is the industry doing in the Caribbean?
Nicholson-Dotty: I think that overall we see some positive movements. I think that there are certainly destinations that are doing better than others and our goal as the Caribbean Tourism Organization is to make sure that' high tide floats our boats' so we really want to make sure that all of our destinations are doing well and I think the stronger ones help some of the weaker ones and I think that's one of the premise that we have, the Caribbean Tourism Organization, along with the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association come in together under CTDC and the marketing opportunities to ensure that we have strength throughout the region.
Donn Bobb: 2012 has just gone by, what was that year like for the industry?
Nicholsin-Dotty: Well, I think that you saw again, overall, there were some areas that did well and then there were others that were still lagging behind so it's still a mixed message in terms of the return of travel to the numbers that we had prior to 2008. But I think overall we're positive, we're seeing that we're trending upward and that is positive for the region.
Donn Bobb: What is the region's strongest market?
Nicholson-Dotty:I think that you have several markets that are very strong. I think that Jamaica continues to be one of the leaders, the Bahamas. I think the numbers for the US Virgin Islands are creeping up back to the strength of 2008. But I think you have pockets and then you also have some of the smaller markets where you're seeing significant growth that had normally been on the radar where you're seeing that increase in travel so that's good. And that is the goal of the Organization – to bring all of our members along.
Donn Bobb: And where have these tourists been coming from?
Nicholson-Dotty:I think that we certainly see visitors from the United States are key amounts. Many areas I think one of the areas that we can certainly say that we have seen a significant fall off from is the United Kingdom and I think that that's closely tied to the APD.
Donn Bobb: Has the region made any progress in its negotiations with the British?
Nicholson-Dotty: I think that as recently as two weeks ago, there were debates that were occurring and we continue to keep it front and center. I think the Caribbean Tourism Organization has been very vigilant in our messaging on the impact, not just to the region but also within the British economy of what the removal of this tax or at least the re-bonding of this tax could be to the economies of the UK as well as to our region.
Donn Bobb: The World Tourism Organization said the global economy is still pressured in the aftermath of the crisis but international tourism proved resilient in 2012. Did that situation obtain in the Caribbean?
Nicholson-Dotty: I think that you saw areas. I think that for instance in the Virgin Islands that we saw a big uptake in visitors from Denmark as a former Danish colony I think that there are pockets where the economy has proven resilient and that as a whole there are areas where visitors have increased or at least maintained.
Donn Bobb: Let's talk about intra-regional travel. What is being done to improve intra-regional travel and thereby increase tourism among the islands?
Nicholson-Dotty: First of all, I think that one of the things that we recognize is that there's an incredible opportunity for groups in tourism numbers if we could just address intra-regional travel and then we're talking about the entire aviation systems, and the challenges of intra-regional travel — everything from visas to entry and including airlift. I think that one of the first things that I did after being elected chairman of CTO was named an Aviation Committee of which Minister Ricky Skerrit, the former chairman of CTO is the chairman. And we are looking at all of the aspects – the technical aspects, but also the marketing aspects, working with the airlines. In fact, Minister Skerrit recently was able to make an intervention at the heads of government meeting at CARICOM in Haiti and has gotten aviation on the agenda because we recognize that addressing the challenges of aviation for the region has economic benefits for all of our countries.
Donn Bobb: Chairperson of the Caribbean Tourism Organization.
The CaribbeanTravel.com website, a unique public and private sector initiative for regional marketing, consists of state-of-the-art technology for a one-stop, complete and comprehensive site for destinations, hotels, attractions and services.
This is Donn Bobb reporting.