The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) says it remains positive about the continued rebound of the tourism industry, even in the face of uncertainty caused by the ongoing pandemic.
The group says that over the past eighteen months, Caribbean destinations have shown resilience in creating strategies for recovery, incorporating frequently updated travel protocols, and collaborating with regional and international partners in the areas of health and economic support and development.
Now, despite a discouraging start to the year, the CTO sees light at the end of a long tunnel.
Prior to the arrival of the Omicron variant, the Caribbean was seeing a marked turnaround in tourism activity.
During the third quarter of 2021, there were 5.4 million tourist arrivals to the region, almost three times the arrivals for the same period in 2020, though still 23% below 2019 levels. Preliminary reports suggest that this progress continued through to the end of the last quarter. Consequently, it is estimated that tourist arrivals for 2021 will exceed 2020 levels by 60 to 70 per cent.
“As we begin 2022, once again grappling with the effects of a new variant which is also affecting international travel adversely, we are heartened by the recovery experiences and the lessons learnt in 2021,” the CTO said in a statement.
“These experiences and lessons have taught us that travel and hospitality can coexist with the pandemic affecting both our destinations and markets. While the results to date have not indicated a return to 2019 levels, the exceptional results recorded in the summer to year-end period of 2021 show that a scaled or gradual rebound is likely and very possible by the end of 2022.”
The CTO says staying nimble and adapting strategies to fast-changing circumstances has proven to be and will continue to be necessary for the recovery of a hugely important contributor to the Caribbean economy.
“Clearly there is a demand for the region’s tourism product, as shown by our ability to outpace the global growth average for arrivals,” the CTO says. “It is our responsibility to ensure that we continue to position the region to meet this demand in new and refreshed ways. Let us continue to rebuild together.”