Colors: Yellow Color
Colors: Yellow Color

Like everyone’s favourite selection box of chocolates, there’s something to delight everyone at Compton Venery Art Gallery and Park during the festive season.

From Santa spotting to traditional carols, through to fabulous fireworks and decoration making workshops for little ones, Compton Verney’s December events will definitely get you in the Christmas spirit.


Spot Santa

Sunday 2 December & Sunday 9 December (1pm – 3pm)

Father Christmas and his faithful reindeer have taken time out of their busy schedule to enjoy a couple of days at Compton Verney.  Can you spot him as he wanders around our world-famous Capability Brown landscaped park?

Clue: He fits the traditional description of a jolly chap in a red suit, with big, black boots and sports a rather magnificent fluffy beard.

-This event is included in standard Day Ticket admission and is FREE for Members and Annual Pass Holders.


Christmas Concert

Friday 14 December (2.30pm – 3.45pm)

Lovers of choral music and traditional Christmas carols are in for a treat during our Christmas Concert in the ‘Capability’ Brown Chapel. Featuring the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir, directed by Paul Spicer, the programme will include all your festive favourites and is the ideal way to lift your spirits and embrace the festive mood!

-Adults £15 / Child £7 / Under 5s FREE. You will also need a valid Day Ticket, Membership or Annual Pass.


Festive Storytelling

Saturday 15 December (The Selfish Giant: 11.30am – 11.45am. The Snow Queen: 1pm– 1.30pm& 2.15pm – 2.45pm)

Part of the magic and wonder of Christmas for children is snuggling up with a loved one and listening to a gripping tale. So, gather round the Christmas Tree and settle back to hear a pair of enchanting and much-loved Christmas stories; The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde (recommended for 5-7-year olds) and The Snow Queen (read in two parts and suitable for children 8+).

-This event is included in standard Day Ticket admission and is FREE for Members and Annual Pass Holders.


Natural Wonders Tree Decorations

Sunday 2, Sunday 9, Saturday 15 & Sunday 16 December (11am – 4pm)

Explore the great outdoors before getting crafty in the warmth. Make your own beautiful decorations out of natural materials found in the grounds to hang on your own tree for the festive season. Now that tops a shop-bought bauble every time!

-£5 per person. You will also need a valid Day Ticket, Membership or Annual Pass.


Big Bang and Brass Band

Sunday 16 December (2pm – 5pm)

Celebrate the end of Compton Verney’s successful 2018 season of exhibitions and events with traditional carols performed by the brilliant Royal Spa Brass Band, and culminating with a festive firework finale. Gaze at the heavens and gasp in delight at the spectacular display before Compton Verney hibernates for the Winter.

-This event is included in a Day Ticket and is FREE for Members and Annual Pass Holders.

In response to strong holiday demand for travel to St. Croix, Delta Air Lines is increasing capacity to the island over the holidays.

Commissioner of Tourism, Beverly Nicholson-Doty, confirmed that the Atlanta-based carrier will operate a daily service from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to Henry E. Rohlsen Airport between December 20, 2018 and January 5, 2019 with the exception of Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

"The demand for St. Croix continues to build," said Commissioner Nicholson-Doty, who noted that after the peak holiday season Delta will serve St. Croix, starting the week of January 7 through the end of March, with three nonstop flights per week on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

The Commissioner noted that plans were also in place to secure additional airlift between San Juan and St. Croix in early January, immediately after JetBlue Airways exits the route. "Our talks with our airline partners continue to be strong and we expect to surpass the amount of seats provided by JetBlue on that important route."

The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital, in collaboration with Qatar Airways, is hosting public and private tours inside the one-of-a-kind aircraft, as well as holding on board workshops, including Nursing and Ophthalmology sessions, in support of Doha Healthcare Week and to celebrate the Qatar Creating Vision Initiative, funded by the Qatar Fund for Development and led by Orbis.

The Flying Eye Hospital, operated by global eye health charity Orbis, is a fully-equipped MD-10 cargo aircraft with state-of-the-art medical equipment, an operating theatre and a classroom, making it a truly unique teaching facility. The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital has supported the Qatar Creating Vision initiative in Bangladesh at the end of last year. Since July 2016, 4.2 million screenings for children have been conducted across India and Bangladesh and more than 56,000 training sessions have been provided for medical professionals as well as teachers and community workers. Together, Orbis and the Qatar Fund for Development are on track to deliver an impressive 5.6 million eye care treatments to children across India and Bangladesh by mid-2020.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “It is Orbis’ highly commendable initiative that makes us proud supporters of the global eye health charity. Since 2012, we have worked hand in hand with the Flying Eye Hospital to expand its reach and help prevent avoidable blindness around the world. We are delighted to have this unique aircraft back in Doha as part of Doha Healthcare Week and we are positive that local guests will be fascinated by the facility while touring the aircraft.”

Orbis UK Chief Executive, Mrs. Rebecca Cronin, said: “Through the Qatar Fund for Development we have been able to reach millions of children across India and Bangladesh. There are 473,000 children who are blind across the two countries, and 50 per cent of cases are avoidable. Qatar Airways' support of Orbis has been long standing, and we are immensely grateful and proud of the partnership. We would like to say thank you for welcoming Orbis and the Flying Eye Hospital so warmly and providing us with a platform to celebrate Qatari generosity.”

Qatar Airways has been a proud supporter of Orbis since 2012. The multiple award-winning airline officially renewed its sponsorship with the global eye health charity in 2017 as the Official Airline Partner of Orbis UK for three years.

Every year, the aircraft visits countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America, partnering with local hospitals to deliver specialist training through its team of world-class medical volunteers, carry out treatments, and raise vital awareness about the importance of eye health.

Since 1982 Orbis has been working to prevent avoidable blindness in areas of need. Working with a global team of volunteers and the world’s leading ophthalmic medical experts, each year Orbis delivers between four to eight training programmes on board the Flying Eye Hospital. It also runs long-term programmes in 18 countries, including Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India and Zambia, among others.

Qatar Airways was named ‘World’s Best Business Class’ by the 2018 World Airline Awards, managed by international air transport rating organisation Skytrax. It was also named ‘Best Business Class Seat’, ‘Best Airline in the Middle East’, and ‘World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge’.

Earlier this year, Qatar Airways revealed a host of upcoming new global destinations, including the announcement that it will be the first Gulf carrier to begin direct service to Luxembourg. Other exciting new destinations to be launched by the airline include  Gothenburg, Sweden; Mombasa, Kenya and Da Nang, Vietnam.

The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism is deepening its working relations with the cruise industry by appointing an industry specialist to bolster the work of the Ports of the Virgin Islands, an alliance between the Virgin Islands Port Authority, The West Indian Company Limited and the Department of Tourism.
Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty said the engagement of Joe Boschulte will help the Territory to achieve "operational improvements" to the cruise ship sector as well as economic benefits to the community.
Boschulte comes to the tourism department with consulting experience in improving organizational performance, growth and improvement.
He formerly served as President and CEO of The West Indian Company Limited, one of the busiest cruise ship ports and retail centers in the Caribbean.
"I look forward to the opportunity to work with the team to build the Ports of the Virgin Islands brand," said Boschulte. "As we embark on a new cruise season, the horizon is bright for record cruise passenger growth in the Territory for the next decade."
Commissioner Nicholson-Doty said Boschulte brings a wealth of knowledge about ports and port operations as well as public-private partnerships. His career has included service with the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority, Government Employees' Retirement System, Public Services Commission and the University of the Virgin Islands.
"We look forward to the expertise and experience Mr. Boschulte will bring to our team as we seek to continuously improve and enhance the Territory's critical relationship with our cruise line partners," said the Commissioner.
One of the first orders of business for Boschulte will be to meet with cruise executives at next week's 25th annual Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Cruise Conference & Trade Show. The event takes place in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from November 5-9, 2018.

A five-star resort in Turks and Caicos Islands is offering visitors an escape to paradise this autumn at an incredible value that's hard to beat.

Sailrock Resort, located on the island of South Caicos, is offering 35 percent off room rates, giving travelers an opportunity to escape from the stresses of life to reset and realign in "quintessential Turks and Caicos", one of the most unspoiled corners of the Caribbean.

Tapped as one of the "Hottest New Hotels of the Year" by Forbes in 2017, Sailrock features lavish suites and beachfront villas with breathtaking views of the ocean. Private pools, patios and garden showers enhance the luxury experience for discerning guests.

The limited flash sale offers more than one-third off the best rates on all suite and villa categories and daily gourmet breakfast in the Great House Restaurant. An additional benefit is that rates include a short round-trip flight on InterCaribbean Airways between Providenciales and South Caicos as well as round-trip ground transfers between the airport and Sailrock Resort. Guests who book five nights in the Beachfront Villas will receive complimentary air transfers between Providenciales and South Caicos on a private charter.

Rates start at US$520 per night in a Ridgetop Ocean View Suite (excluding taxes and fees) and are valid for travel until December 21, 2018. A three-night minimum stay is required. Bookings must be made by November 30, 2018.

Sailrock Resort, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, opened its doors in January 2017. The only five-star resort to arrive on the island, Sailrock brings a new level of luxury to South Caicos without disrupting the quiet rhythm that makes the island so unique. There are just 28 suites and villas, as well as the Great House, spread over 52 hilltop and oceanfront acres, so guests find their own private slice of South Caicos whether in a Beachfront Villa or Ridgetop Suite.

And travelers looking for a Caribbean home away from home discover it in the Private Peninsula Villas, located in a neighboring 770-acre enclave with an ecological focus and full access to the resort amenities. The flexible ownership model welcomes both year-round residents and short-term lets through the resort rental program.

Hampshire-based The Natural Travel Collection has acquired one of the UK's leading diving tour operators, Ely-based Regaldive from Explore Worldwide Ltd. Regaldive joins existing dive brand, Dive Worldwide at The Natural Travel Collection (TNTC). Together they form what is thought to be the largest dive offering in the UK. The two dive brands, which have complementary areas of specialism, will be operated as separate entities.

The Natural Travel Collection is a small, privately-owned travel company established by Chris Breen, founder of Wildlife Worldwide, and Teresa Bennett, founder of Dive Worldwide, and supported by a highly knowledgeable and specialist team.

Commenting, Teresa Bennett, a director of TNTC said, “2018 marks 30 years of Regaldive packaging diving holidays and my co-directors Chris Breen, Nick Joynes and I now look forward to taking the brand to a new level with the help of our expert team, all of whom are passionate about diving and discovering life beneath the surface of the ocean. We are delighted to welcome Regaldive to the portfolio, who are specialists in Egypt and the Red Sea region, among other territories.”

The other brands within The Natural Travel Collection, which now has a staff of 40, include:

  • Wildlife Worldwide – The finest tailor-made wildlife holidays and cruises
  • Families Worldwide – Adventure holidays and activity experiences designed for families
  • Walks Worldwide – Guided small group and tailor-made walking and trekking holidays
  • Schools Worldwide – Overseas school trips, projects, expeditions and study-based field treks
  • The Travelling Naturalist – Expert-led wildlife and birding holidays for small groups of naturalists.
With Regaldive joining the fold, the future is bright for divers.  Whatever a diver's passion – shark diving, wreck diving, muck-diving, underwater photography, even snorkelling - and whether a complete beginner or a seasoned expert, in a small group departure or as a tailor-made holidays of a lifetime, there will be something for everyone. Featuring remote and far-flung destinations, with liveaboards, resorts, and dive centres the world over, there are dozens of destinations in Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East and the islands of the Pacific.

Icelandic airline WOW air, has announced a new seasonal route from the UK to Vancouver, Canada, starting in June 2019 - making it the first airline to offer low cost, long haul flights to Vancouver International Airport (YVR).

Famed for its natural beauty, nestled between snow-capped mountains and with a bustling sea-port, WOW air's introductory fare to Vancouver, will no-doubt encourage visitors to experience all that the city has to offer.

The inaugural flight will depart from London Gatwick Airport to Vancouver International Airport, via Reykjavík, on 6 June 2019. Flights will operate six times per week, from June - October, with the transatlantic leg of the journey serviced by the airline's ultra-efficient A321neo aircraft.

Skúli Mogensen, Founder and CEO of WOW air, said: “We're delighted to be adding Vancouver to our route network alongside Toronto and Montreal, bringing our total destinations in Canada to three.”

“Vancouver has long been a popular choice for British holidaymakers, but airlift has traditionally been dominated by the legacy carriers. As the first low-cost, long haul airline to service YVR, we hope this route will open up new opportunities for budget-conscious travellers and adventure seekers to experience this striking part of the world.”

Surrounded by deep blue water and picturesque mountains, Vancouver is an adventurer's paradise. Home to one of the world's largest green spaces, Stanley Park, set over 1,000 acres, offers a mix of dense forest, formal gardens and beaches overlooking the Pacific. Wildlife lovers can visit Vancouver Island, just a ferry ride away, and discover grey whales, sea otters, grizzly bears, bald eagles and puffins.

During the summer months, temperatures average the mid to late-teens (˚C), perfect for an active holiday.

Launched earlier this year, WOW air will also offer their WOW Premium bundle on London to Vancouver flights. The premium package includes the WOW air Big Seat – a wider seat with a foot rest and 37 inch pitch, priority boarding and Fast Track security clearance when transiting in Iceland, an inflight meal and beverages, two checked bags plus a carry-on and personal items and the ability to reschedule or cancel a booking without incurring a fee.

With daily flights departing from London Gatwick, passengers will be able to connect with the Vancouver service in Reykjavik, which will operate six times per week. The total flight time from KEF-YVR will be 7 hours 55 minutes. The total journey time from London Gatwick will be approximate 14 hours, including stopover.

The rainforest within the historic heart of Fraser Island is home to soaring satinay trees, kauri pines, giant king ferns, glistening creeks, and resounds with tranquil bird calls.

In just a few short days, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will experience this breathtaking natural beauty first-hand, upon their highly anticipated arrival to the world's largest sand island.

The royal visit is in conjunction with the Queens Commonwealth Canopy (QCC) project - a unique network of forest conservation initiatives, involving all 53 countries of the Commonwealth.

The project was launched in 2015, aimed to preserve Indigenous forest throughout all of the Commonwealth nations, with the Prince of Wales adding Fraser Island to the initiative in April, 2018.

During their time in the rainforest, the Duke and Duchess will take part in a traditional 'Welcome to Country' smoking ceremony with the island's native Butchulla people, as well as unveiling a plaque for the dedication of the Forests of K'gari to the QCC.

A natural phenomena, and inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1992, Fraser island is the only place in the world where rainforests grow from the sand, at elevations of more than 200 metres.

The iconic Fraser Island satinays, or Syncarpia hillii as they are officially known are a truly spectacular sight; some are in excess of 1000 years old, with their canopy reaching up to 50 metres high.

The trees are renowned for their hardiness in water, which led to them being used to build the London Docks in the early 1930's – another Commonwealth connection for the royal couple.

Nature lovers and adventure seekers have long travelled to explore this pristine and historic environment.

Kingfisher Bay Resort's leading touring arm, Fraser Explorer Tours, transports guests daily to this unique landscape, on their custom-built 4WD coaches.

It is these same buses that will be assisting the 120-strong international media contingent across-island on Monday, documenting the Duke and Duchess' royal engagements.

Nothing puts you in touch with your wild side quite like a big adventure. And Seychelles offers 115 islands to do just that. From island hopping to snorkelling to sailing, you'll never be bored here. Read on for three adventures that'll send you on your merry way.

Island hopping

Seychelles' main islands are Mahé, Praslin and La Digue, though there are many more options to explore. Each island has its own distinct charm, which makes the archipelago primed for island hopping. And, thanks to a strong network of air and sea connections, you can quickly get between them all.

Local operators offer trips to the inner granite islands. These are the world's oldest ocean islands, where you can easily spend the day exploring pure nature. Hiking is highly encouraged, as is swimming and admiring the wildlife.

Then, when you work up an appetite, traditional Creole food goes down a treat. Be sure to try local favourites such as coconut curries; fresh-baked fish basted in ginger, garlic and chillies; a variety of fruit and veg used in hearty stews. You can't go wrong.

But for unspoilt nature at its best, head to Bird Island and Denis Island in the north. These flat coral outposts are rich in conservation, making for lovely spots to unplug and unwind. The outer islands of Desroches and Alphonse are just as amazing if you wish to get away from it all – far away from the crowds. More than that, they are some of the best places for diving and fishing.

After a well-spent day hopping the islands, there's all manner of accommodation to rest your head. Whether you prefer small tropical lodges or exclusive hotels, the sea will be waiting right outside your door.


With warm turquoise waters and sunshine all year round, it's no surprise that Seychelles is the ideal watersports destination. Mahé Island's Beau Vallon is a safe bay for jet skiing, windsurfing and paragliding, and just as popular with surfers too.

Seychelles is also home to thriving marine life, and few experiences beat swimming with dolphins, rays, turtles and schools of tropical fish. Dive centres can take you deep down into the depths of colourful coral reefs.

Or, you could watch from above by hiring snorkelling equipment from the island's hotels and watersports centres. Operators offer deep sea fishing in waters full of tuna and marlin, because you never know when you might hook the catch of your life.


Some of the biggest adventures can be found cruising the open sea. Seychelles' climate is nearly flawless, and stunning panoramas abound, never failing to impress when it comes to sailing.

Sailing can be enjoyed on hulls and catamarans, which you can hire within the area. Boats can either be skippered or unmanned, leaving you to either sit back and cruise or take the wheel. The best part is that sailing is an activity you can enjoy any time of year.

Another advantage to sailing is that the waters around the islands are often calm and free of traffic, so the only sails out there may be your own.

Jamaica Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett has highlighted that revenue from both cruise and stopover arrivals is outpacing total arrival figures.

Speaking at the Ministry of Tourism’s recent two day mid-term review and strategic planning retreat, Minister Bartlett said, “Preliminary data from the Jamaica Tourist Board shows that foreign exchange earnings are outpacing arrival figures by ten percent,

Last year we saw an unprecedented 4.3million visitors which translated to USD3billion in foreign exchange earnings and the projection is that by the end of this year, Jamaica will see earnings of USD3.3Billion.”

Minister Bartlett lead the two day mid-term review and strategic planning retreat, held at the Terra Nova Hotel, where heads of agencies, divisions and senior manages within the ministry discussed the progress they have made in meeting key performance indicators set ahead of their last meeting. The meeting included all agencies of the Ministry of Tourism – the Jamaica Tourist Board, Tourism Enhancement Fund, Tourism Product Development Company, Devon House Development Company, Jamaica Vacations Ltd, Bath Fountain Hotel and Spa and Milk River Hotel and Spa.

“From this two day self-analysis we were able to drill down to critical programme areas and review our progress so far using data. Of note is that it has been highlighted that for the last five years, our arrivals have grown by 35% and revenue by over 40% which means that we on a positive upward trajectory in both areas,” said Minister Bartlett.

In 2016, Minister Bartlett established 5x5x5 growth targets for the Ministry and its agencies, which seeks to grow the tourism contribution to the economy by providing 5 million visitors over a 5 year period; earn US $5 billion; employ 125,000 directly in the industry; increase room stock by 15,000; and grow at 5% per annum.

Minister Bartlett added that “Through the strategic and deliberate approach of my Ministry and agencies, we are seeing that the KPIs established may have to be revised as we are well on target to achieving and even surpassing these benchmarks. The team has done a tremendous job and through their hard work the sector is experiencing a boom we expected to continue.”

The White Harte and the Anchor in Bristol are conjuring up a ‘Perfect Storm’ ahead of this year’s Halloween Screamfest 2.0 - as the pub prepares to transform itself into a house of horrors for what they’re dubbing ‘Hallo-week’.

The tempestuous times come in the form of a scrumptious Kraken Black Spiced Rum cocktail – the Caribbean rum’s take on the traditional Dark and Stormy – served in a ‘Perfect Storm’ limited-edition tankard, especially for customers to enjoy on the annual spook-fest.

With Halloween falling on a Wednesday this year, the two pubs will ensure that there is plenty of chance to get in the spirit, with the spooky celebrations extended througoughout the week. There will be decorations galore, fancy dress and a party atmosphere on Friday and Saturday night, either side of the Hallowed Eve.

You won’t be missing out if you visit the them on the night however, as on the 31st October things will be spicing up on the food front, with hellishly-hot wings at just 25p a go, courtesy of the aptly named, Hallo-wing Wednesday.

“We’re planning on building up our spooky décor over the course of the month,” said Chris, General Manager of the White Harte “a cobweb here, some ghostly apparitions there – just as teasers, until we’re all set for Hallo-week from the 26th October. The team are pretty excited, particularly about dressing up and, of course, even more so, because they get to do it twice! It’s going to be SPOOK-tacular!”

Efteling – the fairytale theme park in the south of Holland – has revealed that a new attraction is to launch where the Bob bobsleigh run is currently located, scheduled to open in spring 2020.

After more than 34 years of service as a children's roller coaster, next year the Bob will make way for a new rollercoaster aimed at children aged between 4 and 10 years old. Max & Moritz will be a dual-tracked roller coaster, based on a well-known German visual poem about two naughty boys called Max and Moritz.  Like Bob, Max & Moritz will be suitable for the whole family (with a minimum passenger's height of one metre) and will open in spring 2020.

The Bob's current Swiss theming and its station building will be retained for the new attraction, while the construction of the track will start in September 2019 and is expected to cost 15 million euros. The Bobsleigh run will remain open until then.

Max & Moritz will be themed on the 1865 German illustrated story of the same name, written and drawn by Wilhelm Busch. The forerunner of the comic strip, the original copy consists of drawings and text, with each image accompanied by a few lines in rhyme.  The story follows Max & Moritz, two naughty boys who make fun of villagers with their mischievous behaviour. Efteling will create a free adaptation of the original story in the attraction; a happy nod to the story about the two boys.

With the announcement of Max and Moritz, the opening of another new attraction in a soon-to-be expanded area to the east of the amusement park will be postponed until 2021. It will be part of a completely new themed area. The new themed area will be part of the adventurous Reizenrijk, and include the new attraction next to the Efteling Hotel, renovations at the hotel and a few smaller attractions.

The new Chairman gave his first remarks under his new post to press at an early morning Press Conference at Atlantis Bahamas.

"Let me first of all, publicly thank my colleague ministers for placing their faith in me by electing me on Tuesday as chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization. I’m humbled by their confidence, yet excited about the opportunity to help guide such an important regional institution for the next two years.

I’m also excited at the prospects for the CTO and the critical role it can play in unifying the Caribbean, not simply as a tourism destination, but as a people destined for greatness.

I’m convinced that a well-supported, well-funded, CTO can take its place alongside other venerable institutions to lift the people of the Caribbean to incredible heights that are attainable but not yet achieved.

The organisation’s leadership in tourism and its contribution to the development of our human resources will help drive strong economies and build reliable, competent and productive workforces and Caribbean populations that are ready to face an ever-changing global environment.

The CTO’s leadership was on full display this week through the experts we brought together to share insights into how we can better build a lasting and sustainable tourism sector that will benefit every individual, every community, every country in this region.

We dared to challenge the region to build better, not just the infrastructure, but the entire industry. We explored applicable recommendations for the use of technology, not only to improve the visitors’ experience, but our lot as a people. We boldly tackled controversial issues such as commoditizing our cultures without exploiting them and embracing the Caribbean as a region of roots.

We brought these issues to the forefront not because they’re popular, but because we are convinced they must be successfully addressed sooner rather than later, if we are to truly build a Caribbean tourism industry for the future.

And there’s no better way to shape the future than to involve our young people. There isn’t a single person among those who were in the room for yesterday’s youth congress, or among the approximately three thousand people who watched it live on the CTO Facebook page, who will disagree with me when I say we have some of the most creative, imaginative and smartest young people anywhere.

They are the ones who will be challenged to continue building the tourism industry on the foundation that has been laid by today’s leaders and yesterday’s pioneers. Based on the strength of their performances yesterday, I’m confident that the future of tourism is bright.

In this context, allow me to congratulate the youth congress winner, Jamaica’s Bryanna Hylton, as well as St. Maarten’s Kiara Meyers and Caroline Pain of Martinique, who placed in the top three.

I know you’d also like an update on our The Rhythm Never Stops campaign; I’m happy to advise that the campaign will be launched this coming Monday, thanks to the public- and private sector stakeholders who contributed to this important first phase.

On the region’s tourism performance, it has been a tale of two situations. On the one hand, we have robust growth in countries that were not affected by last year’s hurricanes.

On the other, we have seen dramatic decreases in arrivals to those hit by the storms, although the performances of these countries are steadily improving.

Of the 22 reporting destinations, 13 of them registered increases in tourist arrivals during the first half of the year, ranging from 1.7 per cent to 18.3, while seven recorded decreases of between a negligible -0.3 per cent and 71 per cent.

The top performing destination during this period were Guyana at 18.3 per cent, Belize at 17.1 per cent, the Cayman Islands at 15.9 per cent, and Grenada at 10.7 per cent and the Bahamas at 10.2 per cent.

These individual results substantiate the regional messaging of the openness of the destinations for business and the confidence in destinations to deliver quality experiences.

The performances of the key source markets varied considerably, with some destinations recording strong growth, while others registered declines.

In the US market, for example, while Jamaica reported growth of 8.4 per cent, the Dominican Republic was up by 6.3 per cent and 11 other destinations achieved growth, six of which were by double digits, the Caribbean received Seven million visits from the US during the first half of the year.

This was a 15.8 per cent decrease when compared to the corresponding period last year, due mainly to a 54.6 per cent fall in arrivals to Puerto Rico and decreases in arrivals to Cuba.

On the other hand, there was a new record in arrivals from Canada for this time of year, with 2.4 million overnight international tourists, representing a 4.7 per cent increase.

Arrivals from Europe also increased, though marginally at 0.3 per cent, with three million tourists visiting the Caribbean during the first half of the year.

Belize led the way with 24.3 per cent growth, followed by Guyana at 9.4% per cent, Curaçao 6.2 per cent and Saint Lucia at 4.5 per cent. However, overall growth was impacted by steep falls in arrivals to Anguilla, Puerto Rico and Bermuda.

There was also a marginal decline of 0.5 per cent in cruise visits, although there are signs of improvement. Of the 23 reporting destinations, 15 realized improvement upon their 2017 performances with Trinidad & Tobago registering increases of 166 per cent, St. Vincent & the Grenadines up by 84 per cent and Martinique at 54.7 per cent, leading on growth rates.

However, this was countered by declines of nearly 90 per cent in the British Virgin Islands, Dominica was down by 88.4 per cent, St. Maarten down 27.5 per cent, and the US Virgin Islands decreased by 22.5 per cent. Puerto Rico, though hurricane-impacted, posted a 1.1 per cent increase during the period.

The region’s competitive advantages of a diverse tourism product and safety and security are still intact. Destinations are rebuilding, and new tourism products and services are being restored daily in the destinations impacted by last year’s hurricanes.

Our research department anticipates an overall decline of between three and four per cent this year, but predicts a 4.3 per cent increase next year.

Cruise, on the other hand, is projected to grow by five per cent to six per cent this year.

Let me take the opportunity to thank Minister Dionisio D’Aguillar, director general Joy Jibrilu and team at the Bahamas ministry of tourism, as well as our own CTO staff for working so hard to pull off a wonderful State of the Tourism Industry conference, and I thank you for your participation."

New Zealanders are traveling abroad in record numbers – over 2.9 million people travelled out of New Zealand airports last year – and one of their favourite destinations is the United States. Kiwis are a responsible bunch, according to MoneyHub, only one in six Kiwis holiday or venture abroad without travel insurance. Kiwis are also fiercely loyal, they overwhelmingly prefer to purchase travel insurance from New Zealand-based travel insurance companies. However, there is a new trend on the horizon of non-US travellers purchasing US-based travel insurance based on lower cost, increased benefits and ease of filing medical or loss claims for luggage, flight delays and other travel mishaps.

Silicon Valley-based travel insurance company, VisitorsCoverage, reports a 120 percent increase in New Zealanders searching for and comparing travel insurance policies on their site, and an almost 100 percent increase in sales of travel insurance policies to Kiwis for travel to the US for the first half of 2018, compared to 2017 statistics.

The United States does not provide universal medical coverage. Unprepared travellers who did not purchase travel insurance and sustain serious injury or a catastrophic medical incident in the US risk incurring financial liability that can easily run over $100,000, as the US also has one of the most expensive healthcare systems in the world. Should a fellow Kiwi require medical air transport back to New Zealand, costs could easily double or triple for medical repatriation.

“Visitors to the US are realizing the cost savings, coverage advantages and convenience of purchasing US-based travel insurance,” says Rajeev Shrivastava, CEO and founder of VisitorsCoverage, an InsurTech company that provides online comparisons of travel insurance policies. Not only do more US-based providers recognize and accept US-based insurance, but non-US policies are generally reimbursement-based and travellers may be required to pay medical costs out-of-pocket at the time of service. Filing a claim for reimbursement later could be complicated, frustrating and lengthy as a result of different time zones and countries.”

Most non-US travel insurance companies use third-party providers to enable them to offer medical and travel insurance in the US, which may result in higher costs to the purchaser as well as higher deductibles. Most policies offered through third-parties rarely offer comprehensive coverage that utilize US-based Preferred Provider Networks (PPOs) – these often have low or no deductibles, and little or no co-pays – provided the traveller uses only physicians and hospitals that are part of the approved provider network.

US-based travel insurance companies partner directly with medical insurance providers who often directly pay all covered claims filed by the traveller, with little or no payment at the time of treatment. Companies like VisitorsCoverage partner with top-rated providers such as IMG, Seven Corners and underwriters like Lloyd’s of London, giving peace of mind to unlucky travellers who actually have to file a claim for medical treatment or loss. Many comprehensive policies offer coverage beyond medical, including lost luggage, flight cancellation or delay, repatriation or border entry denial.

The bottom line for Kiwis travelling to the US? “Take the time to shop around and compare New Zealand-based travel insurance policies with those offered in the US,” Shrivastava continues. “Most US-based travel insurance policies cost the same or more as non-US based policies, depending on age, but the small added cost is worth it if you need to use your plan. It’s really not worth the risk of buying a cheaper policy that could still leave you with a huge, unpaid portion of medical fees should a catastrophic incident occur.”

Indonesia has unveiled a package of steps to help Tanzania to unleash the tourism potential, as it seeks close ties with the resource-rich country.

In his maiden interaction with the members of Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) in Arusha, Indonesian Ambassador to Tanzania, Prof. Ratlan Pardede vowed to work with the government to attract massive Indonesian tourists.

“I will promote Tanzania’s abundant tourist attractions back home and encourage youths to come and explore the country as part of the strategy to boost tourism” Prof. Pardede told the TATO members.

The Indonesian diplomat who recently sampled Serengeti, the Tanzania’s flagship national park, said he would also foster a strong link between TATO and Association of the Indonesian Tours and Travel Agencies (ASITA) to work together in promoting both countries for mutual benefits.

Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park is Africa’s best safari park because of to the sheer numbers, variety of wildlife, abundance of predators and spectacular wildebeest migration.

According to the latest ratings by safari travellers and African travel experts, Serengeti National Park polled 4.9 out of 5, emerging the winner.

TATO Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sirili Akko who spearheaded the talks said idea behind the interaction was part of comprehensive approach to promote Tanzania’s tourist attractions in Asia, the biggest emerging travel and tourism market.

Mr Akko further said that TATO has resolved to diversify its tourist market from the long-established sources of western countries and a few African counterparts.

Lack of direct flights between Dar es Salaam and Jakarta coupled with little information on tourist attractions in Tanzania among Indonesians, have been cited as among factors leading to few tourists from the Southeast Asian country.

However, the Indonesian Embassy in Dar es Salaam are upbeat that there could be an increase of between two and five per cent in the coming years from the current 350 travelers from Indonesia.

Indonesia’s tourism industry is booming, Prof. Pardede said, adding that the country’s visa-free policy is one of the secrets behind the tourism thriving.

In 2017, the country welcomed over 14 million overseas visitors an increase of more than 2 million from the previous year.

This rapid increase in visitors, and the billions of dollars in foreign currency flowing with them, seems likely to continue.

This is not mere happenstance, but rather the result of a coordinated and strategic government effort to drive growth in the industry.

In 2015 the Ministry of Tourism set a goal of 20 million foreign visitors by 2019.

At the time, with numbers hovering around 9 million, this appeared to be an optimistic target but the most recent data suggests they are on pace to achieve it or come very close.

The question then is what’s driving this rapid growth?

The answer seems fairly clear: with the election of Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, the government set clear benchmarks for what it wanted to accomplish in the tourism sector, then designed and implemented a multipronged effort to achieve those goals.

These efforts have been helped by a weakening rupiah, which increases Indonesia’s allure as an affordable tourist destination.

But that is only a one part of a bigger picture which includes multifaceted efforts to restructure the Ministry of Tourism, market Indonesia more aggressively as a tourist destination, enact regulatory reforms to attract investment, and target strategic destinations outside of Bali for development and promotion.

Since the program kicked off in 2015, the industry has grown by leaps and bounds, generating a flurry of economic activity and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.

In 2015, the ministry rolled out a new 5-year strategic plan setting clear goals for itself to achieve by 2019.

These included the 20 million-visitor numbers, as well as attracting Rupiah. 240 trillion ($17.2 billion) in foreign exchange, employing 13 million people in the industry and boosting the sector’s contribution to national GDP to 8 percent.

To accomplish these goals, the ministry was first overhauled. Prior to 2015, tourism development and promotion were grouped under the umbrella of the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, meaning that in addition to tourism promotion, the ministry was also engaged in financing and producing films, art and music that represented Indonesian culture and society.

The 2015 restructure spun off the creative economy activities, allowing the ministry to focus more narrowly on only the development and marketing of tourist destinations.

Along with this narrower mandate, it also received a significant budget increase. For instance, the budget for overseas marketing in 2016 was Rupiah 1.777 trillion ($127 million), which is more than the entire ministerial budget for 2014.