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Caribbean Tourism Rebound Taking Hold: CHTA Marketplace Gets Underway

Bookings are surging ahead, and the Caribbean has one of the lowest rates of COVID infection in the world.

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association began a three-day virtual session on Tuesday, its 39th annual Caribbean Travel Marketplace, to bring together suppliers, buyers and the media.

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“I think the confidence is back,” said Karen Whitt, Marketplace chair. “We are enjoying in the whole region some of the best occupancies we’ve ever seen for this time of the year. Looking forward, projections are looking very strong.”

Frank Comito, Special CHTA Advisor and former CEO of the CHTA, said that for the second and third quarters of this year, Caribbean bookings represent 34% of all international bookings out of the U.S. That’s double the rate for the same period in 2019, he said.

“The Caribbean is the leading international destination for U.S. visitors,” he said.

Comito said the Canadian market is still slow, but that he expects that will change later in the year as travel restrictions ease.

Comito said many countries in the Caribbean have inoculated around 30% of their residents, and that more and more governments are giving vaccinations to tourism/hospitality workers.

Whitt said some Caribbean destinations, including The Bahamas, are reducing resting requirements for visitors who have two COVID-19 vaccinations. Other countries are talking about it, she said.

One of many beautiful views in Antigua. (photo by Dan Callahan)

Representatives from Antigua and Barbuda told TravelPulse Canada that 30% of the population is vaccinated and that close to 80% of hotel workers have received the vaccine.

Visitors who arrive in Antigua and Barbuda need to present a negative COVID-19 test taken with seven days of their flight, but that no quarantine is required.

There are no Canadian flights right now, but flights out of the U.S. are increasing as the travel and tourism recovery continues south of the border.

Officials say strict COVID-19 protocols are in place, including touchless options in hotel lobbies and an end to hotel buffets.

Quiet Barbuda has become an increasingly popular destination. The Barbuda Ocean Club has luxury homes and villas and may add a small resort. A Nobu restaurant (partly backed by actor Robert DeNiro) os now open on the island as well.

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