The Caribbean must be able to convince potential tourists that they’ll return home hale and hearty in order for its coronavirus-devastated tourist trade to fully rebound, the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s acting secretary general says.
Neil Walters said during a Thursday webinar that upcoming marketing campaigns aimed at attracting tourists must not only promote traditional Caribbean tourism attributes but also assure would-be visitors that vacationing in the Caribbean will provide a safe and healthy holiday.
Underscoring that visitors needn’t worry about their health while vacationing in the region must be a “bedrock” of upcoming campaigns, he said, adding “the new normal” must see the integration of public health and tourism in the Caribbean, including at ports of entry for tourists, reports Press Today’s Ian Stalker.
Promoting the Caribbean as a refuge for those seeking a healthy environment isn’t new, with Walters noting visitors began arriving there in the 18th century in the belief that Caribbean stays and good health went hand-in-hand.
Down To Zero
The acting secretary general’s call comes during a punishing time for Caribbean tourism, with Walters saying his region was seeing “essentially zero travel by the end of April.” The Caribbean enjoyed a record year in arrivals last year, posting a 4.4% increase in arrivals. That outpaced the international figure of 3.8%.
But this year’s collapse of international travel meant Caribbean hotel occupancy was barely above 10% on March 28 and some hotels had “no occupancy whatsoever,” he continued. Predictions now suggest that this year’s year-end figures will be on line with those of 1995 and 1996, a far cry from the boom times of recent years and a reversal of 25 years of growth.
Walters also called for a collaborative approach between different Caribbean entities to rebuild tourism in what the CTO says is the most tourism-dependent region in the world.
There Is Good News
“All sectors will pretty much have to be firing on all cylinders,” he stated.
Virginia Messina, managing director of the World Travel & Tourism Council, in turn told the webinar that tourism is easily affected by crises, and one in seven jobs in the Caribbean is linked to tourism.
Good news, however, is that international tourism recovers from crises faster than it did in the past, she added.
Messina also said that any new health measures governments may impose in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic shouldn’t make it a “huge hassle” for people to travel.