The brand-new Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) should be ready to make its debut in June at Caribbean Week New York, CTO Chairman Dominic Fedee said during an online presentation, which also showed that Caribbean tourism growth is outpacing global rates.
Back in December, the CTO closed its New York office, which was followed by its London office at the end of January. At the Caribbean Travel Marketplace this January at Baha Mar in the Bahamas, Fedee said the restructuring was much-needed and that the CTO would emerge “a lot more efficient." It’s a message he stuck with on Wednesday, explaining he was seeking to reposition the CTO as “an efficient, very lean, mean machine that can better tackle some of the challenges that are impacting Caribbean tourism at this time.”
The CTO, Fedee says, will need strong regional institutions that can help address issues like climate change, a lack of funding for marketing, increased competitiveness across the globe, and health and safety challenges. Regarding that last note, Travel Agent has heard from one advisor that their clients are looking to shift their vacations this summer from Europe to the Caribbean. With that said, Fedee says the destination has to be careful about coronavirus and that the CTO is working with the World Health Organization and Caribbean Public Health Agency about how to handle cruise and air arrivals. “I would assume that a lot of our countries in the Caribbean with less capacity would be in a worse position,” he added. “This is a case where health must take the lead and tourism must follow.”
But back to the restructuring: The CTO is hosting consultation sessions with its members and they have identified three priorities for the new organization: Better marketing of the Caribbean brand; more research as it pertains to tourism; and increased product development (or, “leaving no stone unturned to beef up capacity,” Fedee says).
In fact, several former member countries have already inquired about rejoining.
And, as for Caribbean Week, Fedee said attendees can expect a slightly different format this year. Several changes will be made in an effort to rebrand the event, including an investment component, stronger consumer touchpoints and an elevated level of media attention. He also noted it’s important to highlight the successes of the Caribbean people, organizations and stakeholders and, for that reason, the CTO will reintroduce its Caribbean Tourism Awards at the event.