The Caribbean’s tourism renaissance is well underway, with some destinations approaching or exceeding record visitor arrival numbers.
Tourism officials cite pent-up traveler demand, the elimination or significant reduction in travel restrictions, the return of airlift, attractive deals and packages being offered by hotels, and a range of destination and hotel choices and upgrades that are now in place as key factors for the rebound.
Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) President Nicola Madden-Greig applauded the region’s tourism, health and government leaders for their work over the past two years to position the region’s largest industry, tourism, to recover from the pandemic.
Madden-Greig pointed to the announcement last month by the World Travel and Tourism Council at its global summit in Manila, recognizing the Caribbean and Latin America as leading the global tourism recovery.
“Today’s traveler has many choices when planning a Caribbean getaway, thanks to the efforts of so many. Over the past decade we’ve seen an explosion of new and upgraded hotels and infrastructure improvements. During the pandemic many hotels and attractions used the time to improve on their product and service offerings, also recognizing the changing needs of the discerning traveler. We continue to offer accommodation experiences which appeal to the full range of traveler interests. Beyond our world-famous beaches and waters, travelers can experience our diverse cultural, culinary and historic treasures. And we’ve worked diligently to put in place health safety protocols which are effective and as nonintrusive as possible,” she stated.
Madden-Greig noted that, on average, hotels and resorts in the Caribbean will approach close to 80 percent of their record pre-pandemic performance this year, with some destinations setting all-time records. Cruise ships are returning, which is especially important to attractions, transportation providers such as independent taxis, and small- and medium-sized vendors. In addition, investment in new and upgraded hotels and resorts has not slowed.
“These are all great indicators which point to traveler confidence and demand for the Caribbean. We are seeing the fruits of years of hard work by the industry and governments throughout the region to invest in our tourism product and our people, and to broaden our appeal as we find new ways to provide a diverse and exciting experience for our visitors,” said Madden-Greig.
“Travelers to the Caribbean can discover our diverse offerings by land or sea, by a cruise vacation, or a coveted, longer in-destination stay for a more immersive experience. It has never been easier to do the Caribbean ‘your way’ and there are options for every interest and every budget. From high-end luxury accommodations on land or on sea to cozy cottages and apartments,” she added.
CHTA’s Acting CEO and Director General Vanessa Ledesma echoed these thoughts recently at the Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment Summit (CHRIS). Pointing to data from ForwardKeys, Ledesma highlighted the strong interest in the region for summer and fall travel. “This is reflective of the travelers’ mindset with the accessibility of the region, brand identity and management of the pandemic being key elements that are driving demand,” she stated.
ForwardKeys, CHTA’s data partner, recently reported that the Caribbean and Latin America are leading the summer outlook in terms of the return of leisure travel, noting that five destinations – Aruba, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Mexico and The Bahamas – are among the “most resilient” based on confirmed arrivals for the summer.
Developer confidence is also evident in STR’s most current pipeline report, with close to 30,000 rooms in development or under construction over the next five years.
Madden-Greig pointed to new challenges facing the industry, as inflation is resulting in higher operating and travel costs and the uncertainty in Eastern Europe impacts travel. “While the cost of travel increases worldwide due to these and other factors, we will continue to focus on providing value and exceptional traveler experiences,” stated the CHTA leader. “This is particularly important in our highly competitive global marketplace. Despite these challenges, we anticipate over the coming weeks and months to see a proliferation of deals and special offers by the industry to continue to appeal to travelers’ desire to come to the Caribbean.”