Excerpt from Barbados Advocate
Last year was a disaster for Caribbean tourism. Estimates suggest that visitor arrivals to the region fell by 75% in the last three quarters of 2020, causing overall Caribbean economic growth for the year to contract by 6.2%.
Despite this, industry professionals now express cautious optimism that by the end of 2021 Caribbean tourism will begin to see a gradual but eventual full recovery.
Speaking about this, Frank Comito, the outgoing CEO and Director General of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), says that while the industry did not anticipate tourism returning this year to anywhere near what it experienced in terms of arrival numbers prior to Covid-19, there were strong indications of pent-up demand and growth in the redemption of previously cancelled bookings.
While the first several months of 2021 will be a challenge, Comito believes that the industry will now see gradual growth from a presently low base. “The region’s proximity to its main markets in North America, and the appeal of our outdoor-based product, coupled with vaccine implementation all point to a steady return, likely to really show as we approach mid-year,” he says.
Recent scenario modelling by the UN’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) also suggests the same.
The Madrid-based body estimates that full recovery to the 31.3 million Caribbean visitor arrivals recorded in 2019 will occur sometime between mid-2022 and the start of 2024.
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