Travel to the Caribbean – Ups and downs for the Caribbean tourism sector in the midst of a pandemic

By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, HOLLYWOOD, Florida, Thursday. September 9, 2021: The World Travel & Tourism Council’s annual economic impact report says the pandemic has hit the Caribbean travel and tourism sector by $ 33.9 billion in lost revenue.

This loss reduced the sector’s contribution to the region’s GDP by 58%, more than the world average. Some 680,000 tourism-related jobs have also been lost, representing almost a quarter of all jobs in the sector.

However, at the Caribbean Hotel & Resort Investment Summit (CHRIS) held last week, Vanessa Ledesma, Interim CEO and Managing Director of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), said that despite the daunting challenges showcased in the past 18 months by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Caribbean tourism and hospitality industry has seen many significant successes, and the data points to encouraging prospects for the future.

According to CHTA’s data partner ForwardKeys, the Caribbean outperformed its global counterparts in international arrivals in July 2021 compared to July 2019, experiencing an overall decline of 13.2% compared to other regions, which suffered losses ranging from 21% (Central America) to 85.5% (Asia-Pacific).

The U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were the top performing Caribbean destinations, with arrivals up 106.3% and 39.7%, respectively.

Although confirmed tickets to travel to the Caribbean over the next few months are down slightly, some destinations, including Puerto Rico, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Aruba and the Bahamas, are experiencing higher levels than those recorded before the pandemic. Ledesma confirmed that these results are not surprising given the expansion of air routes from major US markets and high load factors from North America.

Ledesma also shared several industry-specific KPIs that confirm strong demand for Caribbean travel, but also suggest the road to a full recovery will be long. For example, while the year-to-date average daily rates for hotel stays in North America recorded in July 2021 were highest in the Caribbean, occupancy rates were highest in the United States. United and Mexico. Among the Caribbean destinations with the highest revenue per available room (RevPAR) for July 2021 since the start of the year, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are the only two destinations showing an increase for 2021 over the same. period in 2019; unsurprisingly, the RevPAR for the entire Caribbean decreased significantly from 2019 to 2021.

Comparing June 2020 to June 2021, occupancy rates in the Caribbean fell from 13.5% to 48.2%, reflecting pent-up demand for travel to the region; comparing July 2020 to July 2021, the rates went from 19.5% to 53.6%.

According to the strategic partner of CHTA STR, in July 2021, the destinations with the highest occupancy rates in the region were: Aruba (82.6%), Puerto Rico (81.2%), Turks & Caicos (79 , 6%), Cancun (74.4%) and Curaçao (71.7 percent).

Drawing on research from the strategic partner of the CHTA Mastercard, Ledesma shared findings which revealed that consumers are increasing their spending in the destination, as well as the length of their stay.

She acknowledged that the health and tourism trade association’s unique partnership with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) had been instrumental in promoting effective efforts to prevent and mitigate health security.

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