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AHTA Newsletter - Friday February 14th 2014
Happy Valentines Day to all our members.
It is great to see the island in the midst of a very busy peak season. With cricket just around the corner it is difficult to find an available room for the next couple of weeks.
The January occupancy figures were extremely positive with a clear increase over last year but also showing that at long last we are looking at pre recession occupancy levels for this winter season.
Please keep sending us all your news so that we can share with the whole membership
Sandals Billboards Highlight Economic Impact
Sandals Antigua unveiled last Wednesday three mammoth sized billboards at various locations in the city highlighting its vast contributions to the economic development of the twin-island state. The promotion is in keeping with an economic impact campaign started by the regional hotel chain some months ago. Each billboard highlights different aspects of Sandals’ contribution through various sectors, from transportation to farming.
One billboard features Mr. John Jacobs and his family. Jacobs is known to have worked with the Sandals group in Antigua for some two decades and has not only become a part of the Sandals family but also stands as an indication of personal progress through the hotel’s pledge to local development.
“Sandals success is still really my success,” Jacobs said. He told a gathering of media and tourism professional that he was indeed overwhelmed at not only the opportunities afforded to him through Sandals over the past two decades, but he was also humbled to have been selected as a symbol of the company’s commitment and growth.
“The relationship between me and Sandals is very strong. It goes back many years. I have been with Sandals since it opened its doors,” Jacobs said.
General Manager of Sandals Antigua Gaurav “Mr. G” Sindhi was also on hand to witness the unveiling.He labeled it as a “proud moment” for Sandals and for Antigua.
“Just to see the volume of partnership that we have not only in dollar figures but also with the community and to actually put a face to that partnership and meet Mr. Jacobs in person is fantastic,” the General Manager said.
He added that Sandals is truly a part of Antigua and Barbuda and it certainly wants to continue the partnership and ultimately make Antigua the best destination in the Caribbean.
Neil Forrester, General Manager of the Antigua Hotels and Tourist Association (AHTA) was also present at the unveiling ceremony on Wednesday. He too is featured on one of the Economic Impact Billboards.
Forrester applauded Sandals for the initiative. He said, “Three quarters of our economy is derived directly or indirectly from tourism and Sandals is the largest player in Antigua.”
He went on to note that tourism is everybody’s business and expressed hope that the billboards, which feature average Antiguans and Barbudans, would help to further sensitize the general public of the importance of the country’s tourism product and how it truly affects everything around them.
Chief Executive Officer of the Antigua Tourism Authority Colin C. James was also on hand to commend the move.
James said he was proud of Jacobs and his family for agreeing to be featured and commended the taxi operator for not only being the first point of contact for visitors to Antigua, but also for doing so in a manner that makes it memorable for tourists and ultimately creating an avenue for a return visit.
“People like Mr. Jacobs help to market and promote the country and add to the visitors’ experience. I must commend Sandals on this initiative. This industry is the lifeblood of this country. We all depend on this industry,” James said.
The Sandals Economic Impact initiative is designed to sensitize the local community of what Sandals does in Antigua and throughout the Caribbean – either directly through the Sandals Resort or its charitable arm, the Sandals Foundation. Over 1000 people in Antigua are gainfully employed through the Sandals and Grand Pineapple Resorts and contribute some US$97 million annually to the local economy.
The billboards are coupled with at least three television commercials that highlight Sandals’ commitment to working with local tour operators and other service providers to amplify the experiences of visitors. The partnerships allows for almost guaranteed work for locals all year.


"Renewal of Vows - Sandals Antigua Style" 
Sandals Antigua and Butler Karen make these guests' wishes come true when they renewed their vows in the Mediterranean Pool.


Members of the Sandals Green Team do their part to keep the environs clean. The group recently conducted a clean-up on Anchorage Road as part of its environmental and health awareness campaign.

 
Three Antiguan properties win Conde Nast Awards
In the recently announced Conde Nast Johansens 2014 Awards for Excellence three Antiguan properties turned up winners in their respective categories. These were

Best for Service - Curtain Bluff
Best Newcomer - Hermitage Bay
Best Eco Property - Galley Bay


Congratulations to all three properties and their management.
 
Should Caribbean Hotels offer free Wi-Fi?
In an increasingly connected world, having Wi-Fi in a hotel room has become as obligatory as running water.But at hotels around the world, Wi-Fi isn’t always accessible — or free. Sometimes there’s a daily charge, or a multiple-day fee. Other times, Wi-Fi is free, with restrictions: from expiring codes to cumbersome passwords. And, frequently, if it is free, it’s not very fast.
As the Caribbean seeks to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive global tourism market, the question is, should Caribbean hotels offer free, fast, unrestricted Wi-Fi, standard?
Well, there are certainly inherent costs.
Wi-Fi isn’t free to set up, and, depending on the size of the hotel, ensuring smooth, continuous bandwidth can be pricey. (There are, of course, some Caribbean hotels that offer a “digital detox” — but at those properties, the absence of Wi-Fi is actually a major reason for the trip.)
But there are options — as is already common in some Caribbean properties, hotels could offer free Wi-Fi for one device, and charge for any additional devices. That seems rather sensible to us.
Others could simply charge a few extra dollars a day and effectively include the Wi-Fi price in the room rate.
There’s another option, of course: simply add a small, included Wi-Fi tax to the room rate, similar to taxes that have been used to develop tourism marketing budgets.
So many Caribbean governments continue to levy departure taxes at the airport — could perhaps a small percentage of these taxes be used to develop, not just hotel Wi-Fi, but island-wide Wi-Fi?
Indeed, a Caribbean with broad hotel Wi-Fi connectivity would mean broader Internet access for all — not just the region’s hotels.
The Caribbean could then boast to the rest of the world that, despite its beautiful, tropical scenery, its hotels always include free, fast Wi-Fi. Would that not be a competitive advantage?
Wi-Fi has become a necessary part of any traveler’s stay, and the bad taste its absence leaves should not be understated.
So should Caribbean hotels offer free, unrestricted Wi-Fi?
from www.caribjournal.com 4/02/2014


 
AHTA to organize Destination Symposium in June
The Antigua Hotels and Tourist Association in collaboration with the Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority presents “SHOWCASE ANTIGUA BARBUDA” at the Sandals Grande Antigua, scheduled for the 5th and 6th June 2014. This event provides one and a half days of pre-scheduled appointment sessions and activities where Wholesalers and Tour Operators from our source markets can meet and conduct business with regional suppliers in the tourism industry. 
Showcase Antigua Barbuda will include suppliers from the Islands of the Northern Leeward Islands, including Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, St. Barthelemy, St. Kitts & Nevis.
How does Showcase Antigua Barbuda work?  – Suppliers will be able to meet with potential buyers during pre-scheduled appointment sessions with each appointment lasting 20 minutes. Those hoteliers who have participated at CHTA Marketplace or SMART will be familiar with the set up. All Participants will receive a Directory including marketing profiles and product information on all participating buyers & suppliers, along with appointment request forms. Once received, supplier delegates review the information and request appointments with those buyers companies they wish to meet. Since appointments are only scheduled through buyer requests and perfect matches, suppliers are encouraged to make advance contact with buyers they are interested in meeting. Appointments are arranged in advance through computer matching of pre-scheduled appointments requests received from buyers and suppliers. Appointments may also be scheduled on-site during the “Scheduling Sessions”.
PRELIMINARY SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:
June 4th, 2014
Official arrival day for Buyers & suppliers
2:00pm – 6:00pm - Registration & Credentials Claiming
4:00pm – 6:00pm - Supplier Tabletop Setup
7:30pm - Welcome reception   
June 5th, 2014
7:30am – 8:30am - Registration & Credentials Claiming for late arrivals
8:45am – 9:15am - Buyer to Supplier Scheduling Session
9.20am – 5:30pm - Appointments are scheduled continuously throughout the day
12:30pm – 2:30pm - Working Lunch
 June 6th, 2014
9:00am – 12:00pm - Additional Optional Appointments
9:00am – 4:30pm - Hotel Visits, Island Tours & Activities
More details will follow shortly.
It is another season for the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association Education Foundation (CHTAEF) Scholarships. The Caribbean Hotel Foundation scholarship program provides educational opportunities for students, employees and instructors of the hospitality industry. The application forms are available on the CHTAEF website:
Deadline for submitting fully completed applications for CHTAEF is March 30th , 2014.
As usual, our timeline is earlier than CHTAEF's so that we may in turn complete processing and dispatch applications in time to meet the Education Foundation’s end- of –March deadline.
Please take note of the following specific INFORMATION AND GUIDELINES to assist you in processing your property's submissions.
We strongly recommend, however, a visit to the CHTAEF website for more detailed information on the scholarship opportunity.
There are three types of scholarships available, Academic (full time and  part time), Professional Development (for industry employees and industry trainers) and Grants to Teachers (for teachers in hotel/hospitality industry).
Scholarship grants generally range from US$1,000 to US$5,000, with larger sums available through the corporate scholarships which do not require special application but are accorded by CHTAEF based on merit.
Qualifying Criteria for Applicants include:
a. At least 2 years documented work experience at a CHTA member establishment
b. Born in the Caribbean
c. Demonstrated commitment to the industry (for e.g. through extracurricular activities, awards, longstanding service to the industry, and so on).
d. Clear financial need.
The AHTA will accept applications only via HR Departments of member establishments. Applications should be completed by the candidate but not  submitted directly to AHTA. HR Departments have the responsibility to supervise the submissions by staff approved to apply, to provide assistance and advice in ensuring a high quality presentation.
 Application Forms  should be proof-read before submission to AHTA in terms of the appropriateness, adequacy and completeness of responses and elimination of any errors (e.g. spelling/typographical mistakes).
Applications should be submitted to AHTA on or before Friday 14th March, 2014.
The AHTA will follow-up applications received, with review and response. Where necessary, additional preparation or amendments may be required to ensure  that AHTA-endorsed applications meet CHTAEF requirements and a standard that might afford best chance for success.
As Scholarships are accorded as much on the basis of the quality application  as the quality of the applicant, please start preparing now. The better the preparation the better the chances of success.
GUIDELINES TO H R DEPARTMENTS
1. Survey and select staff who meet CHTAEF's criteria of "worthy applicants  who demonstrate a strong commitment to the industry and the potential for future success" OR notify your general staff of the opportunity and encourage suitable employees to apply.
2. Secure and distribute copies of the CHTAEF application form as soon as possible. Completing the application package (with required attachments) can be an overall very lengthy process.
3.  Each candidate to register for the desired course of study at a CHTAEF-affiliated/approved institution (see list of institutions on last page of application form or CHTAEF website).
4. Receive and proof-read the full scholarship application package to include (i) completed application form, (ii) scholarship request essay (iii) three references (iv) financial need biography (v) photo of  applicant  -
We hope the foregoing has been very helpful to assist you in facilitating this excellent opportunity for your establishment and staff. Both  scholarship winners and their establishment have received wide recognition on CHTAEF's website/newsletter. (Antigua's 2010 winners are currently featured on the CHTAEF website/newsletter).
We are looking forward to receiving many applications no later than March 14th 2014 .
Please feel free to contact us at the AHTA office for any additional assistance you may need.
 
 

 
Our Auction Site goes live
The AHTA's Auction site DiscoverAntiguaBarbuda went live last Friday at the Boston Globe Travel Show. The site is initially offering 8 items for auction, these include hotel stays at Sugar Ridge, Siboney Beach Club, the Inn at English Harnour, Antigua Yacht Club Marina Resort and Jolly Beach Resort as well as a trip to Barbuda with Tropical Adventures, a circumnavigation with Wadadli Cats and a zip ride at the Rainforest Canopy tour. Visitors to the site will now be able to bid on these items. Items will be renews every two to three weeks. The funds generated will go to help the AHTA withn its promotional activities. A Facebook page has also been set up to promote the website.

Travel Shows

Last weekend the AHTA and 9 hotel partners braved the cold and participated at the Boston Globe Travel Show. This show is always well attended and visitors showed genuine interest in the destination. Several of the hoteliers were able to take bookings at the show. Given the freezing conditions outside show goers were actively looking for warmer climes to get away.



The next travel show we will be attending in partnership with the ABTA NY Office will be the NY Times Travel Show at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City from the 28th February to 2nd March. Anthea will be representing the AHTA at this show, if you are interested in joining us or have material you would like distributed please contact us at the AHTA Office.


The following week we will be supporting the ABTA at ITB in Berlin from 5th to 9th March. Persons with interest in the German market should contact Neil for more details.


Don't miss out on the opportunity of becoming a Tripadvisor expert.The AHTA has invited Sean Russell – Tripadvisor Territory Manager for the Americas to visit Antigua for a series of workshops so that you can learn how to use Tripadvisor to the fullest. The reviews posted on Tripadvisor often play an important role in the visitor’s choice of hotels. The way your property is portrayed on the site, the way you respond to reviews and how you promote your special offers plays a critical part in influencing your choice. Sean will explain the best ways to do this, what advantages there are in taking out a business listing and more recent developments with Tripconnect.
We will be running three half day workshops next week, a morning session 8.30am to 12 noon and an afternoon session 1.30pm to 5pm on Wednesday 19th February for hotels and a morning session on Thursday 20th February for tours and attractions. The workshops will take place in the classroom at the AHTA office on Newgate street.
The workshops are free of charge for AHTA but there will be a charge of EC$270 for non members. Places are limited so please sign up quickly.
 
Bookantiguanow Workshop
After a record month last month for bookings through the AHTA's website BookAntiguaNow the trend has continued into February with bookings on a daily basis. However only a small number of hotels are attracting these bookings so many others are missing out on this potential booking stream. Recognizing this we have organized two workshops for Wednesday February 26th as Martha Valdivia from Regatta will be in Antigua for several days to help hoteliers understand the full potential of the booking site. Full details and registration forms will be circulated shortly.
 

Up Coming Events



19th & 20th February
TripAdvisor - Master Class workshop

26th February
Regatta - BookAntiguaNow workshop

28th February to 2nd March 2014

NY Times Travel Show


5th to 9th March 2014


13th March
AHTA Board Meeting

21st to 23rd March
Salon du Voyage et des Vacances
Martinique


22nd April to 2nd May


14th to 16th May
SMART - Sint Maarten


5th & 6th June
Showcase Antigua Barbuda
Destination Symposium
Sandals Grande Antigua



26th June
National Tourism Awards Gala
Sandals Grande Antigua

British Airways set to increase seats to Antigua for Winter 2014
British Airways announced that it will be launching nonstop flights to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic later this year, The Gatwick-based flights, which will launch Oct. 26, will be British Airways’ first-ever nonstop flights to the destination. The company said that this new service would mean extra seats on flights to Antigua; flights to Antigua had previously continued on to Punta Cana three times a week but will now turn around in Antigua. As a result Antigua & Barbuda will see an increase in seating capacity to the destination, with four out of the seven daily, non-stop British Airways flights to Antigua, now being solely dedicated to holiday-makers wanting to visit the destination. Two of the weekly flights will continue on to St Kitts and one to Tobago.
"This is excellent news coming out of the UK market as Antigua & Barbuda continues to regain its market share out of Britain,” noted Minister of Tourism, Hon. John Maginley.  “Since 2008, we have worked hard at trying to turn around the UK market and this year we are noticing a definite up-swing in the potential bookings out of the UK.”
This increase in lift provides more seating capacity to accommodate more visitors, while giving passengers more direct accessibility to the destination, and also providing a more direct flight turn-around for passengers.  CEO of the ABTA, Colin C. James welcomed the increased confidence in the destination by British Airways stating, “The Tourism Authority and local hotel partners have worked diligently, across both sides of the Atlantic, with the UK airlines and tour operators to provide them with great holiday offerings and packages to promote to their clients.  We continue to work with tour operators and travel agents to better allow them to sell the destination and drive demand.”
Colm Lacy, British Airways’ Gatwick Commercial Director, said, “These extra flights mean families and holiday-makers will have even more choice where to enjoy the winter sunshine, with fantastic direct services…and even more flights to Antigua.  This builds on the extra flights we introduced for our Summer 2014 season, thanks to adding an extra Boeing 777 to our long-haul Gatwick fleet making our flying schedule to top leisure destinations even better.”

 

Antigua Hotels and Tourist Association
Our mailing address is:
Island House, Newgate Street
PO Box 454,
St John's
Antigua
Telephone: (268) 462.0374
Fax (268) 462.3702