SAN JUAN — The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association’s 40th Caribbean Travel Marketplace brought 700+ delegates from 25 buyer countries, including Canada, to Puerto Rico this week.
The conference kicked off with the Caribbean Travel Forum, focusing on the business of tourism in the Caribbean, and discussing topics such as air connectivity, multi-destination marketing, sustainability, technology innovations, labour market constraints and taxation.
A long list of prominent tourism execs speaking at the Forum included CHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig; Kenneth Bryan, Chairman, Caribbean Tourism Organization, and Minister of Tourism and Transport Cayman Islands; Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism, Jamaica; Ernest Hilaire, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, St. Lucia; Brad Dean, CEO, Discover Puerto Rico; and Adam Stewart, Executive Chairman, Sandals Resorts International.
In her State of the Caribbean Hospitality Industry address, Madden-Greig noted several key takeaways, including: the Caribbean has shifted from recovery to growth mode; South America is a market to keep an eye on; affluent travellers are driving growth; regional and multi-destination travel is a major opportunity; and responsible and sustainable policies must guide growth.
Following the opening ceremony it was on to the trade show and for media, updates from destinations including Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Bonaire, U.S. Virgin Islands, Nassau Paradise Island and Cayman Islands.
Discover Puerto Rico, in its update, called Hurricane Fiona a setback, not a reset, and noted that the momentum is still strong heading into 2023 after a record breaking year in 2022. So far Puerto Rico has seen a 23% increase in passengers year-over-year through SJU, through July 2022, as well as a 36% increase in lodging revenue and 18% in lodging demand.
Jamaica’s updates included 3,572,787 stopover arrivals to date (July 2022) since reopening in June 2020. Visitation to Jamaica is projected to return to 2019 pre-COVID levels by 2023. Jamaica is also excited about its 8,000 rooms slated for construction over the next two to five years, including the 2,000-room Princess Hotel in Hanover, the 260-room Sandals Dunn’s River in Ocho Rios and 700-room RIU Hotel in Falmouth, Trelawny.
Bonaire shared insight on ‘The Bonaire Bond’, a destination pledge inviting visitors to sign a promise to travel responsibly and respect the island with a goal to sustain Bonaire’s natural appeal for years to come. In addition to this, the island will reinvest in its conservation efforts by adopting a coral tree through the Reef Renewal Bonaire foundation on behalf of visitors that commit to the cause with their signature for the next year, which began this past April.
Today’s the last day for CTM 2022, with another busy day of appointments, and press conferences from Barbados, Turks and Caicos, Dominica, Saint Lucia and St. Kitts.
Madden-Greig says CTM has been a primary force behind the explosive growth of tourism in the region for the past 40 years: “It’s a one-stop opportunity to showcase the region’s rich diverse tourism product, to profile the latest destination upgrades and new offerings, and to expand our appeal as many destinations, hotels, and attractions are broadening their products and services to meet the interests of the growing environmentally conscious and experientially-minded traveller.”