Sun | Feb 18, 2018

Caribbean tourism stakeholders looking to Mexico for new market

Published:Friday | February 3, 2017 | 5:20 PMCMC
Spanish tourists in Kingston, Jamaica

Caribbean tourism officials have ended a two-day meeting in the Bahamas saying they are moving to capitalise on the growing number of Mexicans expressing an interest in travelling to the Caribbean for vacation.

“Mexico over the last few years has certainly expressed more and more interest in working closer with the Caribbean, and some of its more affluent travellers appear set to visit this region since the recent fallout ‎over immigration issues with the new US administration,” said President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Karolin Toubetzkoy.

Speaking with the Caribbean Media Corporation during the Caribbean Travel Marketplace 2017, Toubetzkoy said the issue of airlift remains the major challenge for ‎the region if it is to capitalise on this opportunity.

She said that applied not just to Mexico but also South American markets such as Columbia and Brazil.

“It is clear to us that our challenge is that the airlift for many destinations is not ideal for Mexicans and other South American travellers who would now obviously prefer to bypass the USA in their travels,” she said.

“The traditional gateways via Miami and Atlanta would ‎not be suited so we need to determine how the airlift out of Mexico, and possibly Columbia and Brazil could be addressed,” she added.

Toubetzkoy said that while they do have their own carriers and there are gateways via Panama, ‎many Caribbean destinations do not have the airlift required to open up that market.

The Caribbean Travel Marketplace 2017 brought together hundreds of tourism enterprises whose representatives meet face to face with wholesalers from around the world selling Caribbean vacation travel.

This year’s engagement attracted at least six new buyer companies from Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, France and Ireland.
Toubetzkoy said that ‎her organisation has been engaged in active discussion with private sector representatives and heads of governments on the entire system of intra-regional travel.

“I think that if we embrace an open sky policy, to some extent the connectivity from Mexico between the islands would allow us to grow market share from that region, but that remains a challenge not having that assessability sorted out.”

The CHTA president said that all of Latin America remains potential destinations for the Caribbean but issues such as transportation and inter-connectivity must be resolved from a multi-destination perspective.

“It will also require a lot of work from the human resource perspective, as many of the English speaking Caribbean seem ill-prepared for our Portuguese and Spanish speaking clients,” she said.