CTO’s Hugh Riley calls Canada a “strong performer” in challenging year

CTO’s Hugh Riley calls Canada a “strong performer” in challenging year

BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS — In his New Year message to the travel industry, Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) commended Canada’s strong performance in a particularly challenging year marked by severe hurricanes.

While the first half of the year saw growth in both tourism infrastructure and tourist arrivals, the month of September was hit hard by a series of hurricanes that levelled entire islands, destroyed property and shut down tourist operations in many areas.

“We must never forget the souls we lost along the way,” said Riley. “Physically, we will recover. Our Caribbean people are a resilient population. We will put the bricks and mortar back together and the hotels and vegetation will rise again and shine in the brilliant sunlight.”

While tourism to the Caribbean took a direct hit, Canada’s numbers remained strong. Riley highlighted the CTO’s recent strategy to “enhance the Caribbean’s engagement in Canada, to develop business in non-traditional areas and work closely with our members’ representatives for maximum impact.” Other initiatives included new travel agent training and certification, increased use of social media, enhanced deployment of the CTO’s data analysis tools, and more focused engagement with the Caribbean Diaspora.

According to Riley, as a result the Canadian market was a “strong performer” for most of 2017, with arrivals up by 6.4%. “We can now look forward to more expansion of that market in 2018.”

Riley also made sure to note that the vast majority of the Caribbean was untouched by the hurricanes and continues to welcome visitors every day. “For them, it’s business as usual,” he said, extending his gratitude to travel professionals, visitors and citizens who continue to share images of the Caribbean today.

“We want to use this time to thank our member countries that were quick to come to the aid of others not so fortunate. We want to thank our partners, the Caribbean Hotel & tourism Association, the airlines, cruise lines and the hotels across the region that have worked and are still working to bring the Caribbean back to normal operations. We want to thank our marketing and sales partners, the tour operators, wholesalers and travel agents from around the world who have stood by the region and continue to promote and sell our destinations,” he said.

Following ‘The Year of Adventure’ in 2017, Riley has declared that 2018 will be ‘The Year of Rejuvenation’ in the Caribbean, with wellness and rejuvenation being important aspects of the region’s tourism product.

“For travellers who focus on renewing body and spirit, the options are virtually endless,” he added. “From beachfront workouts and yoga retreats, to wellness resorts and spa treatments, the notion of being rejuvenated in the Caribbean is one more reason to let us pamper you in 2018.”

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