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CTO to celebrate 46th Caribbean Week of culture, cuisine and rhythm

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The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) will celebrate its 46th Caribbean Week at the Wyndham New Yorker, from June 1, under the theme: “Year of Festivals,” and will come alive for a full week with “Amazing Caribbean Culture, Cuisine, and Rhythm.”

Sylma Brown, director of the Caribbean Tourism Organization NY Inc., in an exclusive interview with Caribbean Life on April 3, said the exciting series of events, organized by her office, will kickoff with a Twenty20 cricket match between the Caribbean Diaspora and players from other parts of the world at the Idlewild Cricket Ground in Queens on June 1. Entertainment will follow to share the Caribbean vibe with cricket lovers.

Caribbean Week, that began many years before the United States established Caribbean Heritage Month, to honor the work of Caribbean nationals in the diaspora, has evolved over the years, said Brown.

She said the role of the New York City office is to create opportunities to give exposure to CTO’s current 24-member government, however most of these countries have representation in the U.S., but still depend on the body for needed assistance.

She explained that CTO USA, organize Caribbean Week, that welcomes ministers, directors, and tourism industry representatives who have been coming to New York, for 45 years to talk about regional issues, and plan programs with a view of increasing tourism to the Caribbean.

Noting that CTO is the Caribbean’s regional tourism development agency, with an aim of being an organized body focused on the entire region of the Caribbean as a single destination entity. The body extends its arm to help countries, as in the case of trade fairs that not all countries attend due to budgetary constraint.

For example, if a particular country is not represented at a trade fair, “CTO steps in to help consumers with the necessary information needed in order for them to enjoy that vacation for which they had saved, said Brown, a Dominica-born who has managed the office for the past 10 years.

In other words, the organization provides specialized support and technical assistance to member countries in marketing, human resource development, research and statistics, information technology and sustainable tourism development.

“We make every effort to answer questions to make consumers understand the response we give is to share information about the diversity of the region, so they are in a better position to visit that destination they have saved for.”

Addressing Caribbean Week, she noted that CTO does diversify its events. The Caribbean Travel and Cultural Fair, a yearly feature, was replaced with a cricket match.

The body has also added the Students Colloquium, a competition to test students’ knowledge on sustainable tourism issues, and to encourage the best and the brightest to consider a career in tourism.

“Tourism is the economic driver in the Caribbean and we have to make sure that the best and brightest enter the industry so it is sustained, and to provide a good livelihood for citizens of the Caribbean.”

With the help of consulates and the diaspora, a workshop will be held at the Caribbean African Institute in Harlem, where college students will research and present a practical sustainable tourism project for the Caribbean.

The objectives are: to enhance in-class learning by heightening sensitivity to sustainable tourism in the Caribbean region, to service as a catalyst for creativity through competitiveness and scholastic research, and to provide a platform for promoting the Caribbean as the most desirable year-round warm weather destination, according to a release.

“This is especially for these students who will also engage with other students in the arts, so they can experience the social and educational aspects of their visit.”

‘I am proud of this program, because I am passionate about educating our youth, and preparing them for a good career,” said Brown.

‘Our theme is Year of Festivals because we boast that we have the most festivals than any part of the world in the islands collectively, and we will be incorporating our culture in every thing we do during Caribbean Week,” said Brown.

A Media Marketplace offers member destinations the opportunity to promote their latest news and connect with leading travel writer, according to a release, while the “Rum and Rhythm benefit” raises funds for the tourism education program, all of the proceeds going towards the scholarship program, that gives an average of 10 scholarships and study grants to Caribbean nationals yearly.

“We are hoping to give 20 scholarships this year because of a high demand, which is due to academic excellence in the Caribbean,” she noted.

“We will continue to deliver students who are talented, smart, and ready to take on the world. This will be done through the scholarship program, to help develop tourism in the Caribbean.”

Additionally, CTO will host cooking demonstrations at Bloomingdale’s, and William Sonoma. Five top chefs from the Caribbean will arrive in New York for this event, and for the first time, will prepare dinner dedicated to the Caribbean at the iconic James Baird House.

The Caribbean Tourism Industry Awards on June 6 recognizes excellence in the promotion of Caribbean Tourism and honors individuals across the industry whose, passionate and dedicated work have contributed to the development of tourism business to the region.

To learn more, and purchase tickets go to www.caribbeanweek.com.

Updated 4:49 pm, April 8, 2019
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