Caribbean Tourism Organisation to announce new CEO for subsidiary CTDC: Tourism Minister of Barbados cites figures indicating why REDjet is a boon to Caribbean & Bridgetown

CTO's Winfield Griffith fielding questions

When the pan-regional organisation the CTO also known as the Caribbean Tourism Organisation held a summit at the US Virgin Islands a few years ago, they were on the brink of creating a tax for Cruise Ships to pass through our waters, but their then Secretary General Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace pulled back at the last minute and did not explore further, bearing in mind he took up Minister of Tourism for the Bahamas.

What happened with that initiative? We spoke to the current Secretary General, former Barbados Rediffusion Announcer Hugh Riley, who says there are new efforts underway to develop a more Public-Private sector partnership to carry forward previous ideas {CLICK ON FOLLOWING LINK FOR FULL AUDIO};-

Accessing the funding to promote the Caribbean as a single destination is a challenge, but rather than use taxation as a means of creating revenue, the idea is to revive the Caribbean Tourism Development Company and also announce a CEO for this subsidiary. The CTDC is to present a Business Plan showing what the CTO is doing to highlight the West Indies as a single destination, at a global level.

{IMMEDIATE LEFT} Secretary General of the CTO, Hugh Riley, making a point

Mr Riley was speaking after an update with media over the state of the CTO at their Collymore Rock Headquarters, explained the CTDC is to become self sufficient by way of its funding structure {CLICK ON FOLLOWING LINK FOR FULL AUDIO};-

The CTDC is a joint project of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association and the CTO, its business plan is to state the mechanisms behind generating not just finances but surplus benefits as well.

This sounds rather upbeat when compared to the rather quiet yet mournful assessment of projections for travel this year, considering the deadlocked stance by Britain over its Airline Passenger Duty which has reduced Caribbean arrivals, this CTO review was delivered in part by their statistician Sean Smith and fielding further queries was colleague Winfield Griffith.

Sec. Gen. Riley, Minister Sealy and CTO Statistical Specialist Sean Smith at a Press Conference where the regional tourism body held its annual state of the industry briefing at its Lwr Collymore Rock, St. Michael headquarters

However, it seems not all of the Caribbean is so morose, Belize appears very satisfied or is it because the ruling Dean Barrow regime needs to make the right call for upcoming ballots? Here’s some of what Channel 7 in Belmopan covered;-

Manuel Heredia – Minister of Tourism: “I am happy to announce that for the first time in the history of Belize, we have attained record over-night arrivals in 3 of the 12 months of last year, namely, January, July and December of 2011. As a result of these top-performing months, I am proud say that 2011 will be recorded as only the second time in Belize’s history that we have exceeded the 250,000 over night arrivals.”

However Belize is considered a pricey destination which is why they probably tend to look at overnight visitor figures – but is that really significant? Perhaps if REDjet headed for the Central Americas with the same fee structure both sides would benefit. Barbados’ Tourism Minister Richard Sealy is definitely of that view {CLICK ON FOLLOWING LINK FOR FULL AUDIO};-

Regional business has increased where REDjet flies and a decrease where REDjet is not participating, the Minister further supported his view with figures – 9.5% increase in CARICOM arrivals, but while he favours the Caribbean’s Low Fares Carrier, he emphasised they welcome all types of airlift which benefits Bridgetown.

Trinidad has a 35.3% increase in regional arrivals for 2011 over 2010's numbers as a result of increased options for flight plans for Caribbean people - according to Minister Sealy while talking with Media at CTO's Main Office

Sealy says the fight continues being taken to England over APD but he does not think a reverse discrimination, meaning the easing of duties for Britons visiting here, will serve Bajan finance in the long run {CLICK ON FOLLOWING LINK FOR FULL AUDIO};-

The Minister says UK high rollers are very few despite how the Media pays attention to these prominent guests, what he feels is a more lucrative long-term solution is to examine how to increase opportunities for the Brits to spend while here – perhaps using the vehicle of Heritage Tourism as a drive to open pockets.

Minister Sealy while approving of pushing Heritage Status from the UN as a means of drawing visitors – however, he quickly distanced himself from a recent suggestion by Real Estate mogul Paul Altman that there should be a Heritage Tax {CLICK ON FOLLOWING LINK FOR FULL AUDIO};-

He reminded the press how any taxation is more for Finance to consider rather than Tourism, but he stressed this is by no means an endorsement of a Private Sector plea.

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