According to experts, tourism in the Caribbean has recovered faster than any other destination in the world and has actually shifted into growth mode.
President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourist Association (CHTA), Nicola Madden-Greig takes stock of the region’s performance during the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce (JCC) latest quarterly report on business and consumer confidence hlast month.
“The Caribbean has recovered faster than any other destination in the world. For the third quarter, we were up 3% on the 2019 figures for the same period – and 2019 was what we called a banner year in tourism,” Greig told the meeting.
The third quarter under review runs from July to September.
While total international arrivals for the third quarter were still down 39%, the Americas down 24%; the United States (US) down 31%; the Middle East and Africa was down 19% and Asia-Pacific was down 72% – the Caribbean was up 3%,” Madden-Greig pointed out.
Projections for the last quarter of 2022 also look pretty good, she said.
“For the fourth quarter projections on the books, we’re making pretty good progress. It looks like we’ll be up 15% in the Caribbean in 2019. So we’ve moved from recovery to growth and that’s really, really important” , said Madden-Greig, who is also director of the JCC.
Some, however, questioned whether the region could sustain the current rate of growth, she said.
“The answer we will give is definitely yes,” she said, noting that the Caribbean is well positioned to continue on its growth path and overtake other regions.
“A lot of that growth is being driven by the US market, yes. But we still got Canada, UK [and] Latin America – which has not fully recovered,” she said.
She continued, “We anticipate that as a region, the Caribbean and Jamaica, will be able to retain business that we have taken out of the US market.”
The addition of new air travel options has supported international arrivals, but regional travel still lags behind, she said.
“We have adequate air travel throughout the region from major markets, but the Caribbean region itself, in terms of interregional travel, lags behind our international arrivals,” she said.
There is, however, “a lot of pressure now to try to conduct a regional airlift”, she said.
The meetings, conventions and business travel segment should also provide a boost for the first quarter of 2023, although this segment currently lags leisure arrivals, she said.
“We also see there is potential for growth…we expect in the first quarter and going forward into 2023 we will see a significant increase in this segment and that will also drive the growth that we expect in the Caribbean,” said the CHTA President said.
Additionally, while the cruise segment has not fully recovered, the industry will begin to see “a slight uptick.”
“There are still challenges, there have been consolidations in terms of the number of calls, but we expect that in general the number of actual passengers will remain the same even if the number of ship calls may be reduced. “, said Madden-Greig. said.
She said some cruise lines have retired some ships and are working with larger ships.
“So instead of a call with 1500 or 2000, you [now] have bigger calls,” she explained.
It is hoped that these larger appeals will provide a boost to other niches such as transportation, craft vendors and other small and medium tourism dependent entities.
The shared economy or accommodation segment is also growing.
“We are seeing that villas, apartments and those segments in terms of the accommodation industry are also continuing to grow,” she said, adding that overall tourism in the Caribbean and Jamaica has rebounded. quite significantly.