Sat | Jun 25, 2022

CHTA’s Madden-Greig reports positive outlook for Caribbean tourism

Published:Thursday | June 23, 2022 | 5:34 PM
“We have managed to recover over 311,000 jobs … and that is really a testament to how fast Caribbean tourism has been able to come back into play”: Nicola Madden-Greig, president of CHTA.

Caribbean tourism is recovering faster than anticipated, according to Jamaican hotelier Nicola Madden-Greig, who currently serves as president of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA).

Speaking during yesterday's CHTA 'Caribbean Tourism Fireworks', which the trade association uses to communicate regional tourism performance and outlook survey results, Madden-Greig announced that in 2021, the Caribbean travel and tourism sector experienced the second-fastest recovery of all regions, with its contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) up by 36.6 per cent.

“We have managed to recover over 311,000 jobs … and that is really a testament to how fast Caribbean tourism has been able to come back into play,” she noted.

In spite of the good news, contending with headwinds such as air connectivity, digitisation, infrastructure and human capital development, increased operating costs, as well as mitigating future crises, were ongoing challenges.

The Kingston hotelier reported that while January and February were not particularly strong months because of the COVID-19 omicron variant, travel picked up between March and June, and summer looks promising.

“For the June to August period, [the Caribbean is] ahead of our 2019 airline arrivals in terms of what is forecast and on the books by upwards of two per cent,” she said, adding that advanced bookings for the fall were also encouraging.

“With that traction, we expect that winter 2022-2023 will also be strong,” she asserted.

The CHTA president said the association is paying close attention to the Russia-Ukraine war and the associated fuel crisis, inflation and rising airfares.

“Right now it is not tampering demand, people are still booking and coming, but we have to look at that to see if that's going to give us any challenges in the future,” she commented.

Session participants also included Jamaican hotelier Clifton Reader, chair of CHTA's Advocacy Committee; and CHTA's acting CEO and Director General, Vanessa Ledesma.

Other takeaways from the session included the recognition of Caribbean tourism's resilience; that investments by the tourism industry in capital improvements, health safety and product value are underpinning the region's tourism recovery; and that labor shortages present immediate and long-term opportunities.

The association urged employers, governments, education and training institutions to step up efforts to recruit new employees and prepare communities for careers, employment and ownership opportunities within the sector.

The speakers agreed that intra-Caribbean travel presents untapped opportunities but connectivity issues need to be addressed; and preserving, protecting and enhancing the region's natural resources needs to move from the back burner to become a necessary part of the industry's strategic positioning.

The session underscored the importance of collaboration among the region's public and private sector tourism stakeholders, building upon lessons learned and mistakes made through similar efforts in recent years.

- Janet Silvera

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