Optimism For Caribbean Tourism Later This Year: CTO Panel

The next few months may not be great, but there’s plenty of optimism about a strong fourth quarter and a solid 2022 tourism season for the Caribbean.

The Caribbean Tourism Organization held a live Facebook chat on Wednesday with a panel of experts. Most agreed that things are looking up, and that the final three months of 2021 could see a serious rebound for travel to the region.

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The second half of the year looks quite promising, said Carol Johnson, Senior Principal Client Partner at Tripadvisor.

“Sixty eight per cent of consumers are planning an international vacation. We’re also seeing people want to take more than one trip internationally. That creates a wonderful climate for the Caribbean to go in and tap into to this pent-up demand.”

Johnson said US demand for travel is definitely looking up.

“Nearly half of all the travel bookings are for international destinations. And travel booking for trips three months out is growing fast. The number of users looking at stays 90 days out and up have increased 50% since December.”

Eric Bowman, Executive Editor at TravelPulse in the U.S., said he’s talked with agents and feels the fourth quarter of this year will be good.

“There’s a potential for Q3 to pick up a little bit, depending on the restrictions and when they get lifted and how that plays with the vaccine, but for 2021 I think it’s a fourth quarter bounce back and hopefully sunnier times in 2022.”

Colin Pegler, managing director at Resort Marketing International Ltd. In the UK, said he’s expecting a huge increase in bookings in the coming weeks. But governments need to make sure borders are open, or else travellers will head to other regions.

Pegler said it would be great if the summer could reach 50% of normal levels but that that might be optimistic.

“Certainly by Q4 and going into 2022, the Caribbean could and should and hopefully will do very well. We have the opportunity to steal business away from more crowded areas. City centres and city breaks will be on the decline. People will be looking for beach stays, and the Caribbean has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

“That’s where we’ll capitalize. So, I think the back end of this year we’ll do well, and I certainly think 2022 should be a strong year.”

Vivian Mur, vice president of Cruise and Leisure Sales at ADARA Inc., said she thinks luxury will lead the way when the rebound comes. But she sounded a more cautious tone about Caribbean tourism than other presenters did.

“We’re seeing pretty good pickup through March but then it drops off,” she said. “Hawaii and Mexico are in demand,” but it’s unclear how things will shake out for the Caribbean from April onward.

“There are so many variables,” she said. “I think the region has some work to do.”

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