Stage set for the opening of region's premier conference on tourism development issues

FORT de FRANCE, Martinique – The stage is set for the launch of the Caribbean’s most important gathering on tourism development, the Caribbean Tourism Organization(CTO)’s State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC). The conference opens here tomorrow (Wednesday 16 October) with a ceremony that is expected to feature addresses from several dignitaries, including Hon. Serge Letchimy, the Congressman to the French Assembly and President of the Regional Council of Martinique; the country’s tourism commissioner, Hon. Karine Roy-Camille and the chairman of the CTO, Hon. Beverly Nicholson-Doty.

During two full days of passionate exchanges delegates will exchange ideas with leading Caribbean and international tourism experts on a range of elements that are critical to the development and success of the sector in the region. These include training and education, service quality, standards, visitor satisfaction, and regional transportation.

In a pre-conference message, the CTO chairman urged delegates to come up with creative solutions to the challenges facing the sector.

“Strong inter-sectoral linkages with industries such as agriculture, construction and the financial services sector, for example, place additional responsibility on all of us in tourism to emerge from this conference with a stronger plan for a more sustainable and more resilient tourism sector. Over the next few days we have an opportunity to look clinically at all aspects of our industry and chart the way forward. Creative solutions are needed on all fronts, particularly on matters of increasing taxation; optimizing arrivals and revenues from emerging and existing source markets; airlift stability; the pursuit of sustainability in the face of constrained financial resources; and most importantly pooling our resources to strengthen the Caribbean brand in the marketplace. Lip service can no longer be the order of our days,” said Ms. Nicholson-Doty, who is also the commissioner of tourism for the United States Virgin Islands.

The opening ceremony takes place at the Madiana Convention Centre from at 7:00 PM on Wednesday 16 October. The State of the Industry conference which brings together decision-makers from the public and private sectors, academics, government officials, hoteliers, travel professionals and journalists from the region and around the world, runs through to 18 October Themed, “Perfecting the Experience. Delivering Authenticity,” the conference is organized by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) in collaboration with the Martinique Tourism Authority. It is supported by Chanflor, Habitation Saint-Etienne, Colibri, Habitation Clement, Chocolat Elot, Travel Zoo, Royal Fruits of Martinique and Opusseven.

Martinique is magical, a rich and vibrant tapestry of French chic and authentic Creole spice woven across an absolutely fascinating tropical setting nestled in the heart of the Lesser Antilles. An overseas region of France, Martinique stirs wanderlust and passions with the Caribbean’s most delectable culinary delights, awe-inspiring natural beauty, a rich cultural history, warm smiles and so much more. Its various nicknames — The Caribbean island with French flair, The Isle of Flowers, The Rum Capital of the World — hint at the uniquely special experiences that await visitors here, as do such celebrated awards as “Top Caribbean Island for Delectable Dining” (Caribbean Travel + Life: 2009), “Best Caribbean Destination” ( 2010), and induction of The bay of Fort-de-France in The Most Beautiful Bays of the World (2011). Napoleon’s bride, Empress Josephine, was born and raised here. Majestic Mt. Pelée and The Pompeii of the Caribbean, St. Pierre, is found here. The finest French products and the wonders of Caribbean authenticity are readily available here.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), with headquarters in Barbados and offices in New York and London, is the Caribbean’s tourism development agency comprising membership of over 30 countries and territories including Dutch, English, French and Spanish, as well as a myriad of private sector allied members. The CTO’s vision is to position the Caribbean as the most desirable, year round, warm weather destination by 2017, and its purpose is Leading Sustainable Tourism – One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean.

Among the benefits to its members the organization provides specialized support and technical assistance in sustainable tourism development, marketing, communications, advocacy, human resource development, research and information technology.
In addition the CTO, in partnership with the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, jointly and equally owns the Caribbean Tourism Development Company, a marketing and business development entity dedicated to promoting the Caribbean brand worldwide.

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