Tourism Will Bounce Again, Says Caribbean Lodge and Tourism Affiliation

The tourism and travel industries have demonstrated a consistent ability to recover from troubled times, says the head of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association.

“Our industry is incredibly resilient both globally and regionally,” said Frank Comito, CEO and General Manager of CHTA, in a chat with CHTA / Caribbean Zoom. “We jump back and we usually jump back better and stronger than we do.”

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Some critics said the Caribbean should diversify and turn away from tourism.

“I don’t agree with that at all,” he said. “I think tourism offers the Caribbean the greatest opportunity to relax and renew. As we have heard from other speakers, diversification within tourism should guide our transformation. We should go with our strengths. “

“We are well positioned to recover from tourism,” said Comito. “We have a strong base of customer loyalty, unsurpassed natural beauty, proximity and access to key markets. Our variety of products, our resilience and our ability to quickly recover from adversity. “

He also noted that the region has an excellent health and safety record, with “some of the best standards currently in place”.

“We’re built for wellness,” he said. “We are a culture of hospitality. And we have a Caribbean brand awareness. “

He also said that tourism has been a driver of positive change in the region for more than half a century.

“It is an important employment factor, drives infrastructure development, creates unity and … develops our employees. It is compatible with the Caribbean culture of hospitality and therefore fits very well with us and our offer. It works and creates local entrepreneurial activities, increases security … promotes cultures, celebrates uniqueness, effectively differentiates our markets, attracts additional airlifts for travel, not only for visitors but also for residents, and also lowers costs. “

Comito said tourism is often a misunderstood socio-economic tool.

Caribbean tourism map

“As the dollars circulate in our economy, it affects everything. Everything. Everything. It enables government services for schools, education, police, infrastructure, and other types of businesses. the bank, the beauty salon and so on and so forth. “

Michel Julien, tourism market intelligence and competitiveness officer at the United Nations World Tourism Organization, said 100 to 120 million tourism jobs around the world are at risk from the pandemic.

Julien said the recovery of international tourism is likely two and a half to four years away. “But we also assume that there will be a strong recovery by mid-2021.”

Much depends on key factors, including the containment of the virus, restoring the confidence of travelers and an “extensive lifting of travel restrictions”.

Virginia Messina, executive director of the World Travel and Tourism Council, said the world needs more open borders, removing obstacles to travel and lifting bans on non-essential travel.

The world also needs a comprehensive virus testing program as the vaccine will take some time to roll out. These tests have to be affordable rapid tests because the PCR variant takes too long and is too expensive, she said.

Messina said she saw a number of technologies and innovations used to arrange safe and seamless travel, including health passports.

“We need to make sure that a vaccine is not a requirement for international travel,” she said.


Edmund Bartlett, Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism. (Photo by Brian Major).

Jamaican Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said recovery depends on open borders.

“The pandemic is the worst crisis international tourism has faced since records began in the 1950s and the worst disruption to the Caribbean in more than a century,” he said. “Ten of the 20 most tourism-dependent countries in the world are in the Caribbean.”

Bartlett also said that Caribbean nations must avoid fighting each other.

“The Caribbean needs to be seen as an integrated region where we work together, share resources and market ourselves in a multi-purpose way.”

A single visa or passport for the Caribbean would also make traveling in the region more seamless, he said.