A Breakdown of What’s in Store at this Year’s SOTIC in Grenada

At the annual State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) Caribbean tourism practitioners, policy makers, strategic partners from the public and private sectors, and travel professionals, gather to discuss issues, identify solutions and courses of action to keep the region competitive and therefore benefit its tourism industry.

In many ways, this year’s #SOTIC2017 in #PureGrenada is going to be more important than any other conference that we’ve done in recent years.

Here’s what we have in store.

Infusing Dynamism in Caribbean Tourism 

Caribbean Adventure- Flyboarding on Grand Anse BeachPhoto Credit: Grenada Tourism Authority 

For the third straight year, Caribbean tourism arrivals outpaced the global average, yet our share of the global market is not growing, remaining steady at 2.4 percent. Meanwhile, new destinations are entering the race for the global tourism dollar, while established ones are adding new, exciting products to attract an ever-changing traveller. This session will examine where the Caribbean stands in this global context, how the region is perceived and how we supercharge the brand to improve its competitiveness, grow demand and increase value.

Who’s on the panel?

♦ Caroline Gallichan-Hurley, Virgin Holidays

♦ Jennifer Hendry, Senior Research Associate, Canadian Tourism Research Institute

♦  Moderator:  Marla Dukharan, Chief Economist, Bitt


Who are the New Explorers? 

free_to_wonder_20Photo Credit: Grenada Tourism Authority 

The ever-changing travel demographic means tourism practitioners must forever adapt to the evolving needs of travellers. Be it Generation Z, the Fifties, New Female Traveller or Hipsters, tomorrow’s travellers are demanding unique experiences that appeal to their individual tastes. This session will help you identify the new explorers, what they want, how they spend and how to attract them.

Who’s on the panel? 

♦  Mathew Probasco, Freelane Journalist, NYC

♦  Stephanie Oswald, Editor-in-Chief and Founder, TravelGirl Magazine  (Emmy-Award winning Journalist at CNN)

♦  Chris Spring – Co-founder & Principal, China Ni Hao, LLC

  Moderator – Barry Collymore, Director, Port Louis Marina Development and Mount Cinnamon Beach Resort

 Business Models That Rock! 

free_to_wonder_-35.jpgPhoto Credit: Grenada Tourism Authority 

As travel destinations and service operators seek to increase tourism intake, it is imperative that businesses design and deliver unique and authentic experiences that help them stand out from the crowd and succeed. They must have unique value propositions, diverse revenue streams, and loads of creativity. This session will present proven business models that create compelling value for visitors and help vacation providers rethink how we generate revenue, explore how to develop models that are highly scalable, unique, loved by customers, disrupt the industry and are profitable.

Who’s on the panel? 

♦ Francine Howard, Marketing & Service Development, Sprint

♦ Helen Beck, Vice President, International Marketing and Sales Crystal Cruises

♦ Jason Nichols, Lead Brand Partner, Linqia

  Moderator:  Shadel Nyack,  Managing Director, Belmont Estate

Turning Our Waters into Goldmines-Investing in the Blue Economy 

free_to_wonder_21.jpgPhoto Credit: Grenada Tourism Authority 

The contribution of the region’s marine resources to Caribbean economies is critically
important, especially for small island developing states (SIDS) like those in the Caribbean, which have a narrow resource base. However, the ‘blue economy’ or the ‘ocean economy’ is now being seen as providing wider and more diverse opportunities to fuel new industries, stimulate different kinds of jobs and put countries on a more innovative and competitive path, while restoring ocean health. From a tourism perspective, the session will be looking at areas such as shipping and port facilities, tourism’s use of the marine and coastal environments.

Who’s on the panel? 

♦  Robert Hathaway, Manager, Glossy Bay Marina

♦  Dr. Eric  Deans, Chief Executive Officer, Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA)

Rebuild & Recovery- The Future of Caribbean Tourism

free_to_wonder_22.jpgPhoto Credit: Grenada Tourism Authority 

In the special in-depth three-hour segment on October 12, 2017, Recover & Rebuild, leading experts in disaster preparedness and mitigation, recovery, funding, airlines, airport development and maintenance, cruise lines, telecommunications and media, as well as representatives of the hotel sector and member countries that have experienced – and recovered from – major catastrophes, will share their knowledge and expertise.

Who’s on the panel? 

This session contains the following five main segments:

The Impact – Observations: Mitigation & Preparedness
in Caribbean Tourism

♦ Elizabeth Riley, Deputy Executive Director, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency

The Cost – The Real Economic Cost of Disaster

♦  Dr. Justin Ram, Director of Economics, Caribbean Development Bank

Blueprint – Recovery from Crisis: Building a Path to Sustainability

♦ Jean-Marc Flambert, VP, Marketing & Sales, UK & Europe, Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority

Key Recommendations for Moving Forward – The Stakeholder Perspective

♦  Shawn Sullivan, Policy Lead, Latin America & the Caribbean, Airbnb

♦  Fernando Fernandez, VP Development, Apple Leisure Group

♦  Frank Comito, CEO, Caribbean Hotel  & Tourism Association

♦ Marie McKenzie, VP Global Ports and Caribbean Government Relations, Carnival Corporation

♦  Marty St. George, EVP, Commercial and Planning, JetBlue

♦  Julie Reifer-Jones, CEO, LIAT (1974) Ltd.

 ♦  Juan Bailey, Regional Sales Director, C&W Business

♦  Moderator – Hugh Riley, Secretary General, Caribbean Tourism Organization

The Member’s Experience- Lessons Learned 

♦  Hon. Clarice Modeste-Curwen – Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Grenada

♦  Dionisio D’Aguilar, Bahamas Minister of Tourism, Aviation and BahamasAir

Global Partners Perspective 

♦ Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica Minister of Tourism, Coordinator, UNWTO Disaster “Recovery Working Group”

♦ Helen Murano, Senior Vice President, Government and Industry Affairs, World Travel and Tourism Council

Active Engagement: Riding the Technological Wave

plus twoPhoto Credit: Grenada Tourism Authority 

The rapid rise of technology is pushing the travel industry to be ever more creative in the way they engage visitors and enhance the experience.  And, increasingly, artificial intelligence is becoming part of the travel experience. Whether it’s Edwardian Hotels’ virtual concierge, Edward; Kayak’s Lola All, or AI powered chatbots that help fast food businesses improve customer service efficiency and provide roadmaps for travel brands, or the virtual flight-assistant, Tensator, travel and hospitality companies using AI are more and more to add value for customers and improve the experience. This session will delve into ways to use technology creatively to successfully sell destinations and enhance the visitor experience.

Who’s on the panel?

♦  Amrita Chandra Gurney, Head of Marketing, Crowdriff

♦  J. Greg Land, Global Industry Leader, Hospitality & Travel Related Services, IBM

♦  Oliver Gale, Co-Founder & CFO, Bitt

  Moderator:  Graham McKenzie,  Publisher, TravelMole

Spicing Up the Caribbean Brand

Untitled designPhoto Credit: Grenada Tourism Authority

The Caribbean is known globally as a melting pot of cultures, traditions, peoples and heritage. While there are unmistakably common threads among our regional tourism products, every Caribbean destination strives to offer a unique flavour that increases both market share and share of customer spend, while strengthening the region’s brand recognition. As with all good business models, product regeneration is critical to creating and maintaining a competitive advantage and Caribbean tourism is no different. This session will explore tangible examples of distinctive destination offerings in the areas of gastronomic experiences, multi-destination tourism initiatives, and immersive frontiers through Cosplay, Comic-Cons and AnimeKons.

Who’s on the panel?

♦  Andrea de Caires, President, Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana

♦  Yvette La Crette, Personal Chef, Caterer

♦  Omar Kennedy, Executive Director,  AnimeKon

Moderator – Alexandra Otway Noel, Member of Parliament, Former Minister of Tourism & Civil Aviation, Grenada

Caribbean Tourism Youth Congress


The Caribbean Tourism Youth Congress is an integral part of CTO’s annual tourism conference and is a regional activity involving students between the ages of 14 and 17 from CTO member countries. Its main aim is to stimulate greater awareness and excitement about tourism among young people in our Caribbean communities, by allowing them to research various facets of the tourism sector and share their ideas and vision with respect to future directions for Caribbean Tourism.  Delegates should expect a thought-provoking and spirited exchange of views among our future leaders of the region, as these young national “Junior Ministers of Tourism” compete for important prizes and the chance to be a youth ambassador for their destination and the region for a full year.

Who’s on the panel?

♦  Chairman: Gabriel Josephs, 2016 Caribbean Youth Congress Winner, Bahamas

♦  Students from CTO Caribbean member countries

Stakeholders SpeakOut


While the State of the Tourism Industry Conference features a wide range of leading experts who share examples of successful practices from which we can learn, the people who have a direct stake in tourism – the hotel worker, the taxi driver, the farmer, the banker, the school teacher, the general public, etc. – also have a say. These are the people who are in direct contact with the visitor, who hear their concerns, who share in their joy and who leave the most lasting impression of the Caribbean. They hear the stories we don’t hear, see visitors from a perspective we do not, and view the destination from a perspective we often miss. This session gives stakeholders a voice, allows them to share their own unique experiences and offer their own critical recommendations on how we can supercharge the brand to meet the needs of the new explorers.

Who’s on the panel?

♦  Travis Robinson, Parliamentary Secretary, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism

♦  Patricia Maher, CEO, Grenada Tourism Authority

♦  Hugh Riley, Secretary General and CEO, Caribbean Tourism Organization

♦  Jerry Rappaport, Owner/Manager, La Sagesse Nature Centre

♦  Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, Travel Journalist

♦   Moderator:  Tony Fraser, Freelance Journalist

For more information, visit sotic.onecaribbean.org.

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