With strong health protocols in place and an increase in air service to several destinations across the region, Nicola Madden-Greig, the president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), foresees that the region’s bedrock tourism sector should flourish this winter.
Her optimism about the outlook is in spite of an especially difficult 2020 season as stakeholders battled with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The worst of it has been contained,” Madden-Greig said, attributing Caribbean success in containing the virus to sound health safety protocols under the guidance of local ministries and departments of health, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), and other regional and international organizations.
The tourism executive’s optimism is backed by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), which recently reported that the Caribbean is recovering faster than any other region in the world with tourism’s contribution to GDP expected to rise more than 47% this year. In contrast, the global economy is set to receive a 30.7% year-on-year increase from travel and tourism in 2021, representing US$1.4 trillion and mainly driven by domestic spending. The Caribbean region’s forecast increase represents an increase of nearly US$12 billion, driven by both international and domestic travel spend.
Among the region’s protocols have been requirements for visitors to prescreen and produce a negative test before boarding Caribbean flights, as well as the increased vaccination rates for tourism professionals.
“We have been extremely successful in implementing such protocols as shown by the low positivity rate of returning travelers, and there has been little evidence of visitors needing care in local hospitals,” she said. “This means that we have successfully leveraged our protocols to protect team members, visitors and the wider community.”
Madden-Greig, who is also group director of Marketing and Sales of The Courtleigh Hospitality Group in Jamaica, also applauded Caribbean tourism stakeholders for speedily setting up health safety training programs for staff, which resulted in a well-trained tourism sector workforce alert to the dangers and knowing how to avert them.
Nearly 10,000 supervisors, managers and owners of tourism-related businesses throughout the Caribbean have participated in health safety training designed specifically for the tourism industry by the Caribbean Public Health Agency in collaboration with CHTA. They have in turn trained thousands of more employees in their operations. This has complemented and underpinned an aggressive training regime also put in place by local companies, countries and territories.
“We’re ready and able to receive visitors safely,” Madden-Greig said, adding that plans continue to train tourism industry staff in these protective measures while continuing to deliver an excellent customer service experience. “Our success is also dependent on the ability of our source markets to continue controlling this pandemic as the world collectively seeks to recover and move back to normality,” said the president of CHTA.
World Travel and Tourism Council research suggests that at the current rate of recovery, travel and tourism’s contribution to the Caribbean economy could see a further year-on-year rise of 28.7% in 2022, representing a boost of US$10 billion.