BRIDGETOWN — In its look-ahead for 2022, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) says it is still positive about tourism’s rebound, even with the uncertainty fuelled by the pandemic.
In a statement to the industry, the CTO says: “Over the past 18 months, Caribbean destinations, without exception, have shown their resilience in creating strategies for recovery, incorporating frequently updated travel protocols, and collaborations with regional and international partners in the areas of health and economic support and development. Recovery in each instance, has taken place while ensuring the health and safety of residents and visitors alike.”
Signs of recovery in 2021 show what hopefully lays ahead in the months to come. “The year 2021 has given us an indication that there is light at the end of what has been a long tunnel which began in March 2020. By mid-2021, we saw a turnaround in tourism activity, with the Caribbean exceeding the global average for stayover arrival growth and tourism’s contribution to GDP. 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, but still 23.3% below 2019 levels. Preliminary reports suggest that this progress continued through to the end of the last quarter.”
As a result, the CTO estimates that tourist arrivals for 2021 will exceed 2020 levels by 60 – 70%.
“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. These experiences and lessons have taught us that travel and hospitality can co-exist with the pandemic affecting both our destinations and markets,” says the CTO.
“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.”
Recovery strategies as well as agility in the face of rapidly changing circumstances, continued partnerships and collaboration, advocating for safe and healthy visitor experiences and prioritizing the health of residents, will continue to be key for the Caribbean tourism sector’s recovery.
For 2022 the CTO and the Caribbean destinations it represents are focused on wellness, longer term approaches to promote sectoral sustainability, social inclusion and creating smart destinations based on smart businesses to further sustainability efforts. “Our human resources, which are our key assets, are critical to the success of the sector,” says the CTO, adding that throughout 2022, the CTO hopes to build on a regional study of human resources to maintain its top-level hospitality.
“Clearly there is a demand for the region’s tourism product, as shown by our ability to outpace the global growth average for arrivals. 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.”