CHTA boss says tourism industry rebounding faster than anticipated


The Caribbean tourism industry is recovering much faster than expected.

So says President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Nicola Madden-Greig who insisted there is still a lot of pent-up demand for travel to the region.

Speaking during Thursday morning’s Caribbean Tourism Fireworks press conference, Madden-Greig said even though visitor numbers have not yet returned to pre-COVID levels, the Caribbean continued to be one of the most sought-after destinations for travelers.

“We are really very excited to see that Caribbean tourism is recovering much faster than had been anticipated originally and we are seeing that we are the second-fastest recovering globally. We are still behind our 2019 peak year by some 36.1 per cent, but in terms of our contribution to GDP for 2021 we are up 36.6 per cent over 2020,” she noted.

“We have managed to recover over 311, 000 jobs in that period and that is really a testament to how fast Caribbean tourism has been able to come back into play. Of course, we have to continue to look at the global outlook in terms of our growth over the next 10 years, and the WTCC [World Travel and Tourism Council] is forecasting a two-times growth over what we had seen in 2019, so that is exceptionally good news.”

Madden-Greig explained that while arrivals for January and February were not strong because of the Omicron variant, March into June had seen “really strong demand” for Caribbean travel.

Furthermore, she said data collected pointed to a strong summer performance.

“Summer is actually going to be nice and sunny. We are seeing robust demand for the Caribbean and we are seeing that we are actually from the June to August period ahead in the Caribbean of our 2019 airline arrivals, in terms of what is forecasted and on the books, by upwards of two per cent.

“This is significant news for us in the Caribbean and we have the airlift. Our airline partners have been returning to most destinations, some not as much as others, but we think with the news that we are seeing and as travel restrictions continue to be lifted, that is going to make travel for summer even more attractive, particularly for the family market which is one of our major markets for summer,” Madden-Greig said.

“So, we are very excited to report that summer is going to be robust. We are seeing it when we speak to our hotel associations and we speak to our members; they are seeing the demand and they are responding as well.”

The CHTA president said additional data had shown that summer into fall would see a six per cent increase when compared to pre-pandemic levels, while an 18 per cent increase was expected for fall.

She said with that traction, it was expected that winter 2022 to 2023 would also be strong.

Despite the progress made, the CHTA president admitted that there were some challenges that needed to be addressed.

“We have our challenges in terms of air connectivity, we have issues in terms of digitisation and through that, we need to continue to look at our infrastructure and human capital development.

“We have to continue to pay attention to crises, not only this pandemic, but we have to be ready to be able to deal with any future shocks, not just in terms of responding to them but anticipating them and being able to put in place all of the mitigation measures from early on,” Madden-Greig said. [email protected]

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