CTO Warms Up Chilly YTO
with Martha Chapman

The beautifully decorated room in a former Victorian distillery!

A proud Silvija Smith receives her award

Ambrose Morris of the Bahamas with Andrea Lukac of Punch Communications

Dale Pusching and Catharine Butchard of the Anguilla Tourist Board

It was a windy, rainy and all-round miserable day in Toronto – particularly in the gothic Victorian-era Distillery District (I kept waiting for Oliver Twist to leap out from a cobblestone alley asking “Please sir, can I have some more trick or treat?â€)

Never mind, there was a huge delegation there to warm us up as the third annual Caribbean Tourism Week kicked off. Representing many of the 33 countries of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, reps were on hand to update us on news from sunnier climes.

The classy and congenial Hugh Riley, CTO Secretary General, welcomed us, saying that he always appreciates “the warm and friendly welcome we get in Canada. Canadians are educated about the Caribbean and we always feel we are among friends.â€

Needless to say, we are even more welcomed in tough economic times south of the border, when Canada becomes a “stabilizing force†(meaning we actually travel – to some places in huge numbers, such as 700,000 to Cuba and 480,000 to the D.R.). “We are the most tourism dependent region in the world, so we don’t take any visitors for granted,†added Riley. The ongoing recession in the U.S., bodes well for Canadians, he thinks, as he predicts “amazing values – even in high season.â€

Trell Heuther, repping Jamaica, is buoyant about the new lift to MBJ: a brand new route from London, Ont., as well as added lift from YEG, YYZ, YOW and YHZ.

Ambrose Morris of the Bahamas is pretty thrilled about the new Sandals Resort in Exuma opening January 22; while the folks at Total Vacations are jazzed about their newest (and exclusive) destination: Dominica. And for clients looking for an adrenaline buzz, send them along to St. Kitts: according to Brad Richards, the island has just added a 5-stage zipline.

But perhaps happiest of all was Silvija Smith of Beechwood Travel and Cruise in Waterloo, Ont. She was the proud recipient of the Andy R. Parris award for selling and promoting the Caribbean. “This is one of the best awards I’ve ever received,†a smiling Smith told the crowd, “I’m so lucky to have pursued my passion.â€

And I’ll bet Silvija helps many of her clients pursue their own passion: to relax, rejuvenate and maybe work on a great tan……in the Caribbean.

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