It gives me great pleasure to bring you Season’s Greetings on behalf of the Council of Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism, the Board of Directors, management and staff of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO).
This is the season of goodwill, a time for sharing and celebrating, a time for giving and for giving thanks, a time for spreading love and good cheer, and, with the chill that envelopes many of our source markets, it’s a time for sharing the incredible warmth that is a part of the Caribbean’s DNA.
Christmas is also a time for reflection, therefore, even as we begin to contemplate the coming year, this is an ideal time to reflect on the many blessings we in the tourism sector have had in 2014.
In due course we will report on our end of year performance but the data collected by the CTO’s research department thus far indicate that the Caribbean is moving in the right direction as it relates to cruise visits, long-stay arrivals and tourism spend. No doubt, the unrelenting efforts of our member countries, the CTO and our partners in the private sector, combined to produce these positive results. The addition of new hotel rooms and the introduction of added airline seats out of major source markets, bode well for our industry.
Adjustments to the UK’s Air Passenger Duty (APD) were among the hallmarks for us at the CTO. Next April’s lowering of the tax, changes from the four-band to a two-band system, which removes the unfair advantage that some competing destinations had over the Caribbean, and the removal of the tax on tickets for children under age 12 in the following month, make travel to the Caribbean more affordable for families.
As we celebrate this season that is so special to us all, let’s commit to play our part in order to realise the CTO’s vision of positioning the Caribbean as the most desirable, year round, warm weather destination. Let’s call on the same determination and resilience with which we faced the downturn that began in 2008, to take action to promote the Caribbean as a single destination. Let’s invoke our great spirit as Caribbean nationals to tackle the continuously vexing issue of the high cost and inconvenience of intra-Caribbean travel. Let’s call on our amiable hospitality to ensure an unforgettable experience every time for our visitors and guests, knowing full well that seemingly small acts of kindness can have a big impact on our industry.
And, in the New Year, let’s all – public sector and private sector, non-government organizations and tourist boards, policy-makers and tourism workers – embrace our responsibilities to the Caribbean and pursue sustainable and responsible practices.
As we gear up for an intense period of business, we encourage all within our regional tourism sector to make time to enjoy the holidays and to play your part in this season of giving.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a fruitful 2015!