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The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s president Nicola Madden-Greig took to the stage at the recent 40th Caribbean Travel Marketplace held in San Juan, Puerto Rico to share the positive news that the Caribbean region outperformed the rest of the world in arrivals this past summer.
“We saw strong arrivals in our summer recovery where the Caribbean led the way in recovery growing at 2% for that June to August period where international inbound travel was still lagging at -31%,” said Madden-Greig. “We were the only region that outpaced our 2019 figures over the same period. The Caribbean is spearheading travel recovery.”
Looking ahead to Q4 of 2022, she said the region is shifting from the recovery phase to full on growth mode as data from Forward Keys indicates the region will be up 15% compared to 2019 levels — which was a record year for tourism arrivals in the region. Although Canada was slower out of the gate, Olivier Ponti, VP Insights, ForwardKeys told Travel Courier that along with the US, Canada is projected to drive the strong performance of the Caribbean for this quarter.
With some desirable parts of the world only recently lifting travel restrictions and regulations, Madden-Greig posed the question “is this borrowed traffic and demand?”
“I’d like to say no,” she responded to the audience. “With everything that we have done in terms of upgrading our rooms, our inventory, our attractions, our destinations in general, the Caribbean is coming out as the destination of choice.”
Notably, premium cabin classes are leading the recovery. Compared to pre-pandemic levels, premium class airline bookings are up 27%, while economy is up just 1%.
Also boding well for the region is that an additional 30,165 rooms are in the pipeline for the Caribbean.
“The Caribbean is definitely in the spotlight. We are a desired destination,” she said. “People want to come here but people also want to invest here.”
CHTA is also focusing on promoting small and medium sized tourism enterprises that can’t always compete on the same level as large development projects.
“It’s very important that our Caribbean nationals also have a path to this tourism pie,” she said.
Interestingly, looking at the data from the COVID tests that were needed for entry back into Canada and the US, “the percentage Caribbean wide on an average was less than .1 of a percent so excessively low.”