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Jamaica wins title for Leading Destination in the Caribbean



Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer


#Jamaica, August 29, 2023 – Jamaica sores above other countries in the region being voted as the Leading Destination at the World Travel Awards (WTA) Caribbean and The Americas gala ceremony.

The ceremony was held on Saturday August 26th, 2023 at Sandals Grand St. Lucian, marking the opening of the WTA’s landmark 30th anniversary Grand Tour 2023 – a global search for the finest travel and tourism organizations.

The island also claimed other titles as the Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Destination, Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Port, Caribbean’s Leading Tourist Board and the Caribbean’s Leading Airport.

The Leading Cruise Port award was for Falmouth, one of Jamaica’s largest piers and the port for Royal Caribbean, which Donovan White, Director of the Jamaica Tourist Board said do a lot for the country given the connections they create for onshore excursions.

Additionally, it was pointed out by White that the awards for Leading Cruise Destination and Leading Cruise Port are encouraging amid challenges that need overcoming in the cruise sector which he described as slowly recovering since the pandemic.

Considering this, he informed them that they are working with partners to get back to back to normal.

“The itineraries in the northern Caribbean have had troubles over the last two years since COVID and we continue to work with them to seam those out so that we get back to regular porting.”

There is still much to do for the improvement of the country despite the awards as expressed by White, as reported by Loop News, to which he spoke.

“We are working. You hear Minister Edmund Bartlett speak all the time about making the Jamaica Tourist economy and to do that we have to do a lot more.”

He continued to highlight some of the work needed.

He said, “we have to transition our road networks into full highway systems, we have to complete the 15,000 rooms in seven years that we promised,” adding, “we have to continue to bring new investment into open new tourist attractions, we have to get the small and medium size businesses to understand what linkages are, understand what role they need to play in driving the tourism economy of Jamaica, because at the end of the day, it is a team game and Jamaica has to work as a team not only to ensure that we win these awards, but we continue to grow.”

Though the country won many awards, White expressed that the ones that are most heartfelt are the Leading Tourist Board of the Caribbean and the Leading Caribbean Destination, highlighting that the island has set a standard to which all tourist boards are compared, adding that it is important for the island to keep that standard high.

“For Jamaica to own those awards, the tourist board award we have won for 17 consecutive years. It tells me that we have set a standard by which all tourist boards are measured, so we can’t afford to drop that standard, we live by that standard. It’s for us to lose it, and I don’t see the team wanting to lose that anytime soon. It is really dedicated to the hard work of the team of the JTB to continually win that award,” he maintained.

Jamaica won a list of other awards such as:

  • Caribbean’s Leading Adventure Tourist Attraction: Dunn’s River Falls and Parks
  • Caribbean’s Leading Airport Lounge: Club MoBay at Sangster Airport
  • Caribbean’s Leading Boutique Resort: Golden Eye
  • Caribbean’s Leading Destination Management Company: GO Jamaica Travel
  • Caribbean’s Leading Home Port: Port of Montego Bay
  • Caribbean’s Leading Hotel: Half Moon Jamaica
  • Caribbean’s Leading Hotel Residences: The Tryall Club
  • Caribbean’s Leading Independent Car Rental Company: Island Car Rentals
  • Caribbean’s Leading Luxury All Suite Resort: Jamaica Inn
  • Caribbean’s Leading Luxury All Inclusive Resort: Sandals Dunn’s River
  • Caribbean’s Leading Luxury All Inclusive Villa: Fleming’s Villa @ Golden Eye
  • Caribbean’s Leading Meetings and Conference Centre: Montego Bay Convention Centre
  • Caribbean’s Leading New Resort: Sandals Dunn’s River
  • Caribbean’s Leading Tour Operator: Go Jamaica Travel
  • Caribbean’s Leading Travel Agency: Go Jamaica Travel

Other Caribbean countries won awards including The Bahamas with the Caribbean’s Leading Luxury Island 2023 award; The Turks and Caicos with the Caribbean’s Most Romantic Destination 2023 award; and St. Lucia with the Caribbean’s Leading Nature Destination 2023 award.

To see all the other awards given see:

Caribbean News







April 17, 2024, Montego Bay, Jamaica –  In an intimate ribbon cutting ceremony commemorating Sandals Resorts’ entry into the largely undiscovered destination of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the only Caribbean born superbrand welcomed its first guests to a nature-forward experience brimming with island inspiration and stirring ‘Sandals Firsts’.

Witnessed by government officials, Sandals executives, guests and resort team members, an emerald green ribbon, representative of the island’s flag and lush surroundings, was cut signaling the official opening of Sandals Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Executive Chairman of Sandals Resorts International Adam Stewart, spoke on what the opening of the hotel chain’s 18th resort meant for the brand, the island and the Caribbean at large. “This is a multi-generational act in the making that began with my extraordinary father Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart and Prime Minister Gonsalves many years ago. They flirted heavily about flying the Vincy flag not only here but in all the other islands across the Caribbean that Sandals has its operations. Little did we know that 43 years later the Sandals brand would grow from one 99-room hotel in Montego Bay to a top 500 brand known on the world stage as a super brand. The only Caribbean born commercial super brand known across the United States, Europe and Canada with over 84% brand penetration and recognition,” he shared.

He expounded further on what he dubbed the Sandals Effect, a confluence of things that happen when Sandals comes to town.  “First and foremost, we market the destination, both St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The landscape that makes up this incredible archipelago will benefit. Directly and indirectly for linkages, tour operators, taxi operators, restaurateurs, musicians, farmers, fishers, entrepreneurs, hardware store operators, the entire ecosystem and connectivity we plan to make sure that the entire world knows.”

With Sandals’ expansion to the island, airlift has increased exponentially with more availability on the horizon.  According to Adam Stewart, numerous airlines have adjusted their schedules in anticipation for the demand. “American Airlines used to fly twice per week to and from the Argyle Airport, since April the airline has increase to four times per week and is expected to have daily flights by the end of 2024. Air Canada and Virgin have increased their airlift with JetBlue and United Airlines now flying to the island for the first time.  Nationals and visitors will have the opportunity to fly more conveniently and we will continue to grow. ,” expressed Stewart.

The resort, in May 2024, is expected to host some 300 top travel advisors from around the world, the largest contingent of international travel professionals to ever visit Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Dr. The Honourable, Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, in his main address added further credence to the impact Sandals has on his country and the CARICOM community. “During COVID, unemployment went up, there was a decline in economic activity in the region. At the time we also had volcanic eruptions, Sandals came to us with a proposal to recruit Vincentians and send them to their resorts across the Caribbean to be trained. We had to evacuate 20,000 persons with some in shelters for four to six months. Along came a friend in Sandals who said they could ease some of the pressure providing opportunities for 500 people and these little things talk to me about partnership. This might have been small for Sandals but it was a huge thing for us in the condition in which we found ourselves and I want to thank Sandals and Adam.”

“It is an understatement really to call Sandals a brand. It has become an existential part of our Caribbean civilization. This civilization is tailor-made for tourism and Butch Stewart has helped to shape this aspect of the material to help sustain us. I think that when the history of the 20th into the 21st century is written, there would be a towering place for this legend,” The Hon. Gonsalves continued.

In honour of the late Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, Prime Gonsalves in opining that the relationship he enjoyed with the late founder made him “one of us” shared a remarkable plan to celebrate his memory and contributions to tourism and economic development in the region. “The government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines had indicated to Sandals that we will build the road coming to the entrance of the hotel. Having built it, we will call it the Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart Boulevard,” the Prime Minister announced proudly to stirring applause from the audience.

Sandals Saint Vincent and the Grenadines offers 301 rooms and suites across 50 lush-laden acres, authentically embracing its Saint Vincent location with an experience that is as thoughtful as it is meticulously local.

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Caribbean News

Foreign Minister Provides Update on Transitional Presidential Council for Haiti



#Kingston, Jamaica, April 17, 2024 – Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, says significant progress has been made with the publishing of names of the members of the Transitional Presidential Council for Haiti.

The names of the members were published on April 16 in the Le Moniteur. Haiti has been experiencing a humanitarian, security, socio-economic and political crisis.

Establishment of the Transitional Presidential Council for Haiti was the landmark outcome following a high-level meeting of regional Heads, international partners, and Haitian stakeholders on Haiti, on March 11, which paves the way for a peaceful transition of power and the road to free and fair elections.

The high-level meeting was hosted by Jamaica and chaired by Guyana.

“The landmark outcome was the document which sets out the agreement to establish a transitional presidential council, comprised of seven voting members and two non-voting members, and the agreement that, on the establishment of the Council and their naming of a Prime Minister, Prime Minister (Ariel) Henry and his Council of Ministers would resign, paving the way for a new political process towards new free and fair democratic elections,” the Minister said.

Senator Johnson Smith was speaking today (April 17), at a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House.

“I just wanted to update that the process made significant progress yesterday (April 16), when the official decree naming the members was published in Le Moniteur in Haiti, as required by their legal procedures,” she stated.

She noted that queries arose when the decree was previously published without naming the members of the Council.

“The Council members have now been named… which we believe will set a new path, or rather a new energy behind the process which is under way,” the Minister said.

“There are still some issues that are being sorted out in terms of the content of the decree, but it has included the criteria that had been agreed in the outcome declaration of March 11, and does set the way for the next procedural steps on the path back to democracy,” she added.

The Minister noted, too, that a political accord has been developed by the Transitional Council, which builds out their areas of responsibility and sets a framework for how they will function.

“So, that has built a lot of confidence, in the sense that there is clarity around how it is they plan to vote internally and operate the areas of focus, including, of course, the establishment of the Provisional Electoral Council and a National Security Council that will manage arrangements in respect of the Multinational Security Support (MSS) Mission, which has been authorised by the UN,” she said.

Senator Johnson Smith encouraged members of the international community to provide support for Haiti.

“The partners continue to meet; the US, of course, has been the primary proponent of funding for the MSS, but we continue to encourage all members of the international community to provide support, even as they are providing support to other conflicts across the world. We also continue to thank Kenya for their willingness to lead the initiative,” she said.

The Minister said training for the multinational mission that will provide support to  the Haitian National Police Force is also progressing.

“So again, I remind this is not an intervention. It is not a military intervention. It is not a takeover. It is a provision of necessary and practical support to  a national police force that is outgunned and outmanned in the face of criminal gangs,” Senator Johnson Smith said.

The Minister noted that training is going well.  “We have 59 members of the Royal Bahamian Defence Force, 50 members of the Belizian Defence Force here training at the JDF with support and engagement by members of the Canadian Defence Force, who again are all here in partnership, looking at how we can work towards restoring peace and stability in Haiti to set the stage for free and fair elections,” she said.


Contact: Chris Patterson

Release: JIS



Photographer: Yhomo Hutchinson

Header: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, addresses today’s (April 17) post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House.

Insert: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, converses with Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, with responsibility for Information, Hon. Robert Morgan, at today’s (April 17) post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House.

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Caribbean News




~Using AR, VR and XR to train and develop in the Caribbean ~


April 17, 2024 – The Sandals Corporate University (SCU) continues to make significant strides through their multimillion-US dollar project with EON Reality following a recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between The University of the West Indies (The UWI) Global Campus (UWIGC) and the SCU.

The two-year agreement will allow both institutions to work together to explore and implement mutually rewarding initiatives focused on the development of extended reality projects, using the EON Reality platform.

The MoU, signed during a ceremony hosted at Sandals Barbados, provides a framework for The UWI Global Campus and the SCU to facilitate further cooperation in education and training initiatives across the Caribbean region. Dr. Luz Longsworth, Senior Corporate Director for the SCU, described the event as a historical one, where two great organizations come together to achieve great things. “Both institutions have much in common which allows us to join forces to impact the sustainability of our region. We focus on the development and education of our people and countries of this beautiful Caribbean. This MoU will create a framework for the SCU and The UWI Global Campus to work towards coordinating digital and technology related projects and initiatives across campuses and across the Sandals group.”

Dr. Longsworth went on to share the major areas the MoU will cover, “The UWI Global Campus will provide technical input and subject matter expertise for the development of 3D assets and 360-degree experiences in the development of hospitality training content specifically relating to rooms, food and beverage, bookings, watersports, and others. In turn, the SCU and Sandals will provide internship programmes for students, faculty, and staff at various levels. The MoU also makes provisions for collaborating with other institutions to foster an appreciation of new and emerging technological opportunities in the hospitality industry and to help in the understanding of how tourism can aid in environmental protection, climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. Finally, it will facilitate the use of technology, including without limitation, AR, VR, XR and AI to boost corporate social responsibility efforts,” she added.

Dr Francis O. Severin, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of The UWI Global Campus, expressed his gratitude for this revolutionary opportunity to collaborate with the SCU. He shared, “in 2021 The UWI Global Campus made a decision to invest in advanced digital skills for its faculty to help prepare students academically for emerging digital technologies. It is even more important now to introduce and encourage skills to leverage platforms and technologies to generate digitally created goods and services for global audiences. This allows us to eliminate traditional barriers to productive participation like location, gender, and disabilities. These are the values we hold true which opens opportunities to collaborate with likeminded organizations. By harmoniously weaving into the teaching, technological and applied research capacities of the University through XR, AI and other emerging platforms alongside the SCU, we have no doubt we will be better able to support the movement of the Caribbean curriculum.”

He concluded by stating that The UWI Global Campus’ intention is to establish an immersive learning centre for staff, students, and stakeholders to learn, train and perform as efficiently and effectively as possible. “This will be the first of its kind for the region and will usher in a new approach to education and training that engages learners in experiential environments,” he said.

So far, both parties have already begun working on its first of many initiatives, the Digital Immersive Virtual Enhancement (DIVE) Project. Through this project, recorded experiences showcasing coral reefs, dive spots and protected areas will be used to showcase the beauty of underwater experience for tourism purposes but also used to protect the environment through training. It serves as a response to ecological challenges facing our region due to climate change, human impact, and natural disasters.


Photo Captions

Header – (From left) Dr. Karen Rosemin, Head of Digital Learning and Innovation, The UWI Global Campus, Dr Francis O. Severin, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of The UWI Global Campus, Dr. Luz Longsworth, Senior Corporate Director for SCU and Mr. Andre Campbell, Manager E-learning and Technology, SCU all share smiles after the signing of an MoU between both institutions at Sandals Barbados.

Insert – Captured signing the Memorandum of Understanding are Pro Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the UWI Global Campus, Dr Francis O. Severin and Dr. Luz Longsworth, Senior Corporate Director for SCU. The MoU will allow both parties to work together to explore and implement extended reality projects, using the EON Reality platform.

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